Looking back on 2014: How did we do with last year’s predictions?

By Caroline SCOTT-THOMAS contact

- Last updated on GMT

As the clock runs down on 2014, we take a look back at our trend predictions...
As the clock runs down on 2014, we take a look back at our trend predictions...

Related tags: Edible insects, Food, Europe

As 2014 draws to a close, let’s take a minute to look back and ask, how accurate was our forecast for the year? FoodNavigator looks back at its trend predictions for 2014.

Focus shift from ‘sustainability’ to food waste

Last year, we suggested that companies’ sustainability initiatives would shift toward reducing and reusing waste, reflecting new understanding about the potential of ‘waste’ to generate revenue and to ensure that business is truly sustainable well into the future.

Indeed, companies have made huge progress in this area. According to a recent report from trade organisation FoodDrinkEurope​, nearly two-thirds of European food companies now include wastage in their sustainability strategy.

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) research also highlighted how to use waste products​ from fish and shellfish in food and feed – adding to the ‘reuse’ trend that many ingredient suppliers have been researching in their own supply chains in recent years.

Move from ‘local’ to ‘authentic’

We suggested that consumers increasingly would mix their desire for locally sourced foods with more exotic, but ‘authentic’, flavours.

Researchers have certainly focused on creating more authentic flavours, as flavour giant Givaudan claimed to have recreated the authentic depth of flavour​ associated with home cooking earlier this year.

And as predicted, the World Cup inspired a range of Brazilian-themed flavours, particularly among snack makers​ – but most disappeared after the tournament, according to European Snacks Association director general Sebastian Emig.

Provision of Food Information for Consumers (FIC) regulation

It’s hard to overstate the impact of the FIC regulation, which came into force across Europe on Saturday, December 13, with implications for labelling allergens, origins of certain products, and new ways to present nutrition information. Nearly every company operating in the EU has had to change their labels – but it’s not over yet.

In particular, discussion is ongoing about labelling the origin of ingredients​ that make up more than 50% of a food (among others), with potentially huge implications for the food industry.

Insects galore

The idea of eating bugs still may be pretty outlandish for most Europeans, but edible insects have made some significant moves toward the mainstream in 2014.

In particular, Dutch supermarket chain Jumbo announced plans in November to start selling edible insects in the New Year.

And analysts continue to suggest​ that making insect-containing products that don’t resemble insects – using insect flour, for example – could bring edible insects to many more Europeans in the future.

Meanwhile in the United States, Exo cricket bars​ have seen a ‘surprising’ level of demand, according to the company’s co-CEO.

Protein in everything

Despite protein-packed products proliferating at FIE in Frankfurt last year, the trend still hasn’t taken a firm hold in Europe, although consumers increasingly are seeking alternative (that is, meat- and dairy-free) protein-rich foods and drinks.

According to market analyst Canadean, only 3% of the UK adult population seeks out high protein groceries​ – mostly for ‘muscle retention’ and to increase muscle size.

However, more protein-containing products may be on the horizon. Among age-targeted products, protein for kids may be a new area for exploration, as Nestlé filed a patent​ earlier this year for a ‘protein balancing’ product aimed at children aged 5-15.

Healthy indulgence

Finally, we predicted that indulgent products that also provide health benefits would come into their own in 2014. Ingredients manufacturers have been developing ‘healthy indulgent’ concepts for several years – and they are beginning to enter the mainstream, particularly in the snacks sector.

Innova Market Insights has highlighted several trends​ in the area, including superfoods incorporated in snacks and bars, popped chips and popcorn, and increased use of grains – particularly from smaller players.

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