Leatherhead Predicts 2012 Trends

Leatherhead Food Research has released a report predicting food and drink trends for 2012. “2012 looks set to be one in which ongoing trends will be stretched to their full potential, particularly as consumer concerns about health and wellness have prevailed and continue to be high on the agenda,” says Laura Kempster, Leatherhead senior market analyst. “Coupled with this, the uncertain economic future continues to affect both industry and consumers with a ‘tightening of belts’ attitude still very much affecting spending and investment.”

The 10 food and drink trends Leatherhead identified are:

  • Health and wellness—This trend is ongoing in recent years, and includes continued efforts to meet guidelines on the reduction of salt, fat and sugar in products, as well as the active promotion of health benefits in products and the integration of functional ingredients.
  • Sustainability—Another ongoing trend, this impacts companies working to streamline business practices and supply chains to become more ethically sound, and it can range from packaging to sourcing to transportation and more.
  • Convenience—The busy lives of consumers continue to make an impact on food consumption, and the development of new ‘ready meal’ concepts in the form of meal kits and premium offerings ensures the choice and quality of prepared meals continues.
  • Flavor solutions—Needing to compensate for reductions of sugar and salt in food, flavor solutions are looked to in order to compensate, and this includes combinations of spice, herbs and other strong flavors, as well as more exotic elements such as lemongrass, ginger and seaweed. It also ups the ante on premium flavor combinations, such as lavender flavor in dark chocolate.
  • ‘Free from’ foods—The crux of this market lies within the seemingly growing number of consumers who do not have a diagnosed food allergy but believe their health improves with the omission of certain foodstuffs from their diet. This trend provides an opportunity for manufacturers to highlight additional product benefits, as well as allows the traditional ‘free from’ brands to break out of their typical niche.
  • Natural—Though not as strong as in past years, natural continues to be big, including natural components for food colors and flavors. Now, the largest impacts are with companies considering issues, such as the sustainability of a supply, as well as the longevity of consumer demand in their particular product area.
  • Budget conscious still seek affordable luxuries—The attitude of more value for the money still is in high effect, causing the need for cost-effective solutions, but food is also being seen as an affordable luxury, creating more opportunities for lucrative product impacts, such as appealing to families that are now staying in with meal kits and related premium offerings.
  • Quality linked to location—Sourcing has become a big food trend, and the impact include the market desire for more locally produced and sourced fresh food, as well as exotic ingredients such as Madagascan vanilla benefiting from an overt provenance message. The message is that location helps give consumers a distinct impression of a product’s quality.
  • Over 55 and fitter than ever—This trend is seeing more product tailored to the needs of older consumers who are still physically fit and seek products that support that lifestyle, prompting further need for products with health benefits and the inclusion of functional ingredients such as glucosamine and omega-3s.
  • Softer claims—The ever-changing regulatory environment is having a strong impact in the way manufacturers are positioning their products, causing companies to promote and market their products differently and with a softer claim push. This will likely cause manufacturers to seek out a softer approach in delivering messages to consumers, including using color, imagery and phraseology.
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