Consumer trends are always in flux, and the ability to continuously satisfy those trends necessitates flexibility and proactiveness. Nowhere is that more evident than with healthier foods and beverages like low sugar foods, where customer expectations are always rising.
A recent Gallup poll reported that 51% of all adults are actively trying to avoid sugar in their diets, 50% are avoiding fat and 42% are avoiding salt. Instead, consumers are looking for “permissible indulgence”—foods that taste indulgent but that consumers are “allowed” to eat as part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
According to the Heath + Wellness 2017 report by Hartman Group, consumers who avoid one “red flag” ingredient are also more likely to avoid others. So, if they are eliminating fat, they may also be eliminating sugar or salt. The ability to help consumers enjoy authentic yet guilt-free eating experiences not only can lead to greater sales, but increased loyalty as consumers learn which brands they can trust to match great taste with a superior nutritional profile.
Trends in Low Sugar Foods
Sugar, and especially refined sugar, is the new nutritional villain. Companies are responding, with launches of low sugar foods, or reduced/no-sugar foods, increasing by 19.20% from 2015 to 2017, according to the Mintel Global New Products Database. As Mintel reported in their Nutrition, Health & Wellness 2018 report, “Sugar is firmly in the spotlight as health departments crack down on sugar consumption, drawing consumers’ attention to the risks of a diet that is high in sugar, including obesity and diabetes. Consumers are looking for ways to reduce the amount of sugar in their diets, but are torn between health and taste.”
Trends in Low Fat Foods
Lower fat can hardly be considered a trend. But although many see fat as the ultimate “bad guy” in the food pyramid, reduced fat isn’t as important to consumers as it once was, provided the fat is “healthy fat” (like olive oil) and not “bad fat” (like trans fats). According to the Health + Wellness 2017 report by Hartman Group, “Many consumers are trying to increase healthy fats in their diet by eating more fish, olive oil, coconut oil, avocados and nuts.” This trend tweak can be seen in new product launches, with low/no/reduced fat claims down 8.49% from 2015 to 2017 (although they still accounted for 7.30% of all product launches in that period according to the Mintel Global New Products Database).
Trends in Lower Sodium Foods
Salty snacks inherently encourage overindulgence and enjoyment; they’re delicious, usually portable and easy to pick up on the go. Salt is also often added to low-fat formulations to recapture some of the flavor lost when reducing fat.
But while low sugar foods are kings, and lower fat foods are still dominant, foods with lower or no salt are catching up in popularity. While the need to reduce sodium in a diet increases as consumers age, nearly half (47%) of Millennials avoid sodium; the number jumps to 57% for Gen X and 66% for Baby Boomers (numbers courtesy of the Health + Wellness 2017 report by Hartman Group). This focus has hit certain categories of food products particularly hard. Sales of canned soups, for example, has declined by 1.2% CAGR over the past five years (Euromonitor, Accessed October 2018, Hartman Analysis).
Staying Trendy, Staying Authentic
For many food developers, the use of dairy flavors is a simple and cost-effective way to stay on-trend and on grocery lists, which is why Edlong dairy flavors can play such an important role. Our flavors create the indulgent culinary experiences customers want, keeping products loaded in shopping carts, even in dairy-free foods, low sugar foods, lower fat foods and lower sodium foods. For example, Edlong® Sweet Spot flavors, which are inspired by naturally sweet dairy products, enhance the perception of sweetness and improve mouthfeel in products, while elevating richness and indulgence. With a library of more than 250 dairy-free and vegan flavors, Edlong gives food developers the best of both worlds: foods and beverages that are both delicious and better-for-you.