Clean, clear, connected and imperfect: Ingredion's food trend predictions

By Niamh Michail

- Last updated on GMT

'Identifying what will appeal to the consumer  whilst being open and transparent about the ingredients and source will ultimately build trust,' says Ingredion marketing director Charlotte J. Commarmond. Photo: iStock
'Identifying what will appeal to the consumer whilst being open and transparent about the ingredients and source will ultimately build trust,' says Ingredion marketing director Charlotte J. Commarmond. Photo: iStock

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What will food look like in 2020? Clean and clearly-labelled but also 'imperfect' to seem more authentic and closely connected to technology, according to a recent report by Ingredion. 

The ingredients supplier brought together industry insiders such as regulatory consultants and food futurologists to contribute to its report ‘2020: The Future of Simple, Natural and Clean Label Food’. 

Perfecting the imperfect

One of the emerging trends highlighted in the report is a growing desire for imperfect products. Fuelled by consumer weariness with carbon copy products - especially among Millennials - industrial food companies will be under less pressure to make uniformly perfect products.

Manufacturers will need to adapt and change their processes if they are to meet this demand, Charlotte Commarmond, marketing director at Ingredion Europe told FoodNavigator.

"Cookie dough, for example, could be cut like a jigsaw in order to provide variability instead of by a cutter that would cut the cookies to a standard shape. This would lead to more ‘home style’ cookies, and may even reduce waste. Manufacturers may also need to change formulations to create non-homogenous batches, whilst still keeping the overall flavour and content of the product," ​she said.  

The desire for home-made style food  that is also natural and fresh will fuel a rise in demand for frozen food. “The perception of frozen food as the next best thing to making it from scratch, will contribute to a rapid growth in this area," ​said Jennifer Haggard, consumer benefit platform manager at Givaudan and report contributor.

After frozen comes refrigerated food and followed by on-shelf, offering "significant scope"​ for food manufacturers.  

Scent branding

Ingredion also predicts that companies will increasingly use scent as a way to market food and connect with consumers. “Manufacturers that consider the whole sensory experience during product development are most likely to benefit from repeat purchases," ​said Commarmond. 

This is already being done successfully by some companies. “McCain is one company that has already trialled olfactive branding for food with a launch campaign for a new jacket potato. 3D six sheet adverts featuring a heated potato image were posted at bus stops across the UK which released the smell of baked potatoes at the press of a button.”

Click for clean label

© Euromonitor

"There will be significant simplification of labels over the next four years as consumers are overwhelmed by the current volume of information used to communicate the product story on labels," ​says the report.

This prediction was also confirmed by market research company Euromonitor in a recent webinar on clean label trends. Analysts John Madden and John George said that in the future, consumers will seek clean labels with clear and precise information about ingredients and sourcing. This means more front-of-pack information but at the same time labels should be “simpler and less busy”.

It pointed to Eat Natural as an example of a company already doing this through front-of-pack ingredients messages on its toasted muesli and buckwheat cereal bars. The product pack reads: “A gluten free blend of toasted buckwheat and crisped rice with mixed seeds, dried fruit, coconut and a pinch of cinnamon… and nothing dodgy.”

Another way of ensuring consumers get the information they seek without cluttering labels will be through technology, such as by scanning labels or clicking to view more detailed product information if shopping online. According to Rhodri Evans, head of food safety and regulatory affairs Europe at research company Exponent International who participated in the Ingredion report: “The shift in technology will have more influence on changing labelling than any regulation.”

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