Surrey, UK — Skeptical shoppers, trust-building product claims, health and wellness, natural sugar alternatives and supply chain transparency are among the top food trends that will shape the industry in 2014, according to Emma Gubisch, strategic insights manager for Leatherhead Food Research.
Companies will have to work hard to regain consumers’ trust after a number of discrepancies, such as the European horsemeat scandal, have them feeling deceived, Gubisch reports.
She notes that one way to rebuild that trust is by carefully considering product claims made. Declarations should be accurate and deliver on the promised results. In addition, Gubisch says consumers are becoming wary of ubiquitous claims such as natural, which promise a lot without actually saying what the product will do.
With supply fears around key commodities, such as cocoa, companies will need to be even more involved in the sustainability and traceability of sources, she reports, adding that some manufacturers are already beginning to see the benefits of nurturing and protecting their supply chain.
Health and wellness will also continue to influence the markets, as consumers turn to these factors rather than dieting to manage weight. Gubisch notes that some companies are already beginning to move away from “diet” formulations, opting for healthy products positioned as something to be enjoyed, rather than dreaded.
Finally, she anticipates natural sugar alternatives such as stevia and monk fruit will be the growth driver in the sweetener market in the years to come. However, Gubisch notes that while manufacturers are still working stevia into formulations and are waiting for other natural alternatives to receive regulatory approval, the artificial sweetener market will still offer growth opportunities.