Starting with ingredients...
When it comes to the key ingredients that LATAM consumers are demanding, consumers look for “natural ingredients that connect with their needs and concerns”, Julian Mellentin, food and beverage consultant at New Nutrition Business, highlighted.
Ingredients that relate to key trends, including protein, good carbohydrates or low-carbohydrate alternatives, natural sugars and plant-based ingredients are attractive and prominent choices for food and beverage producers.
How innovation is impacting trends?
Sharing insights on current variations between markets, Mellentin voiced that “LATAM countries have very different economic and political environments”. As a result, some are “clearly leading in terms of innovation and food trends, such as Brazil and Mexico”.
As trends and innovations “usually start in big urban centers”, Sao Paulo in Brazil or Mexico City in Mexico, for example, are enjoying pockets of innovations “compared to the rest of the country”.
In Latin America, several segments have witnessed and flourished from strong innovation, namely snacks, plant-based items and foods that offer and appeal to the demand for ‘permission to indulge’ products.
The frozen food segment has also seen an increase in popularity. Brands such as Brazilian LivUp deliver frozen meals emphasizing sugar-free options, for instance. Others like Emporio da Papinha are investing in organic frozen baby and kids foods that are also home-delivered, Mellentin revealed.
Trends to look out for in 2020
1. Sustainability and plant-based choices
This is an area that has grown in 2019, both due to “environmental events and issues, but also because of industry efforts to invest in new product development and communications around plant-based products”, Mellentin added.
The Chilean NotCo company, for example, entered the Brazilian market and is expanding its portfolio beyond its vegan mayo. Startups and bigger players are now entering the plant-based meat segment. So consumers now have access to plant-based burgers in both mainstream burger chains and smaller local independents.
2. Awareness of low-carb
The idea that consumer diets low in carbohydrates is associated with both weight loss/management and health benefits is high among health-conscious lifestyle consumers in Latin America, Mellentin relayed.
Numerous meal and snack brands are currently targeting this segment, which also benefits the ‘reborn of fat’ movement, Mellentin revealed. Brands releasing products connected to sports and fitness, such as keto coffee mixes or nut butters for energy, are examples of how low-carbohydrate options are gathering pace.
3. Provenance and authenticity
Storytelling is proving pivotal and a proven strategy among Latin American producers, as consumers want to know more about the origin and the processes behind their foods.
A movement to ‘re-adopt’ local flavors and ingredients has taken place. Efforts to develop and launch new items from smaller producers are also prevalent, with e-commerce leveraging the profile of smaller manufacturers.
Startups like ROCCA in Brazil are indicating that it is “possible to disrupt a very established mainstream category (‘dulce de leche’)”, Mellentin emphasized, by appealing to consumers’ desires for authenticity and provenance.
4. Sugar concerns
Both local governments and health organizations have “strongly” communicated concerns around sugar. As such, in Latin America, there is an “understanding that sugary foods can be bad but there is still a desire for indulgent products”, Mellentin shared.
The desire for products that sit in the permission to indulge area is driving the growth and innovation in such products, which include snacks and smaller portions of desserts and cakes. Typically, these food options are either sugar-free or use natural sugars that consumers perceive as “healthier and better than refined white sugar”, Mellentin noted.