- Fall food is about more than just pumpkins. A product developer at US Foods told Food Navigator the top five trends for the season are authentic global flavors, vibrant colors, a celebration of vegetables, new world butchery and modern fine dining.
- All five of these trends are underscored by a turn toward sustainability and waste reduction that the publication notes will likely gain importance going forward.
- “Customers want products that are responsibly farmed, limit waste and have a sustainable story behind them, and that will continue to be an important trend to track in the future,” Stacey Kinkaid, senior director of product development at US Foods, told Food Navigator.
As temperatures cool down, consumers may be searching for a little more variety than seasonal coffee shop beverages.
The trend toward vibrant colors and global flavors is visible through the stigma of the blue crocus flower — better known in the culinary world as saffron. According to market research agency Mintel, saffron is the latest on-trend flavor for packaged foods thanks to its ability to add exotic flavor and bold yellow hues.
Similarly, US Foods’ prediction about new world butchery seems to be right on the money. Growth in the craft and artisanal foods and beverages sector has experienced a 28% global compound annual growth rate, according to Innova Market Insights research cited by Ingredients Network. Craft meat, in particular, has seen a lot of interest in the last couple years, with the better-for-you meat snacks segment expected to grow 4.2% a year through 2022, according to Project NOSH. Similarly, premium craft meats are becoming important to CPG manufacturers. Last October, Hormel Foods spent $850 million to purchase Columbus Craft Meats.
Although US Foods is launching 27 products that are on-trend with these five categories, these flavors are likely to linger far after the leaves are raked away. The demand for flavors and fragrances is increasing, with the U.S. currently the second largest global market. But they aren't just popular in the United States. An IAL Consultants' report on global flavors and fragrances found that the total global market jumped 4.6% last year to $28.2 billion. Sales are projected to grow at an average annual rate of 4.9% per year to hit $36 billion by 2022, according to Food Ingredients First.
At the same time, products made from seasonal vegetables — like cauliflower crusts and sweet potato buns — have been dominating healthy-living social media accounts in recent years and have not been limited to autumn recipes.
Although these trends are likely to be popular year round, putting a seasonal fall spin on products might not be a bad idea. It is important for CPGs to capitalize on seasons — not just holidays — to introduce limited time products that provide a sense of urgency and finite shelf life. Playing the seasonal card works well for flavors like pumpkin spice, as well as seasonal vegetables whose limited availability could makes these trendy products more desirable.