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Sustainability, aging and health awareness top food and beverage trends in 2012

Sustainability, aging and health awareness top food and beverage trends in 2012
Themes of sustainability, the impact of an aging population, and a growing awareness of health in general top experts' list of market trends affecting the food and beverage industry.

Just what are the key market trends impacting the food and beverage industry in 2012? Here are some highlights from the experts. Themes of sustainability, the impact of an aging population, and a growing awareness of health in general, all make appearances more than once.

Bell Flavors and Fragrances

This Illinois-based flavors firm released its list of the Top 10 flavor trends in the year ahead. Highlights include the following:

  1. Every year needs a theme. And in 2012, that theme will be emerging cultures. Korean cuisines are predicted to make the biggest splash, followed by Cajun and Greek cuisines.
  2. In the sweet flavors category, top flavors will be salty caramel, red velvet, strawberry jasmine, cinnamon chipotle, eucalyptus, taro/sweet potato, roasted coconut, cafe de olla, lucuma and white sesame.
  3. For savory applications, top flavors will be white truffle oil, kimchi, absinthe, calamansi lime, rich umami, rose water, aged cayenne pepper, satsuma orange, mirin and romesco.
  4. Top beverage flavors: lemonade, maqui berry, aloe vera, white tea, mamey, cucumber mint, chrysanthemum, kumquat, honey ginger and green coconut.

Leatherhead Food Research

UK-based market researchers at Leatherhead have identified their own key market trends in the food industry. Some of their highlights include:

  1. Health claims: An aging population committed to staying young will inspire more products to make health claims. Hot areas will be joint, brain and heart health.
  2. “Free from” foods: More young consumers with food savvy will inspire more products free from gluten, nuts or dairy. This trend isn’t necessarily sparked by food allergies, but rather elective changes in people’s diets.
  3. Less junk: More manufacturers will be striving to reduce their salt, fat and sugar to meet tightening nutritional guidelines around the world.
  4. Sustainability: Everyone wants to go green. This means “cleaner” packaging, more ethically-sourced ingredients used in corporate promotions and shortening the carbon footprint of food transport.
  5. No time: People want to be healthy, but they still don’t really want to cook. Look for ready-to-go meals, including “meal kits” and other low-fuss foods.

Innova Market Insights

This Dutch market research firm picked these as its top 5 trends:

  1. “Pure” is the new “natural”: Natural products are becoming the rule rather than the exception in most Western markets, despite ongoing issues with what “natural” means. One way around this has been marketing the “purity” of a product, with Innova reporting a doubling in the number of products using the word “pure” between 2008 and 2009, a further third added in 2010 and considerably more in 2011.
  2. Green is a given: Corporate social responsibility and sustainability strategies have taken on an increasingly important role. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions or packaging, or creating higher welfare or fairly traded lines. The “ingredientization” of commodities is also moving forward, with previously untapped waste materials used for potential functional and health benefits.
  3. Location, location, location: Interest in where their foods are coming from has never been higher among consumers. This is being driven by an interest in supporting local suppliers, a desire for ethnic-style lines, concerns over the quality and safety of imported products, or the demand for authenticity.
  4. Premium stands out: A premium position provides many benefits, despite the continued soft economic conditions. Consumers still have to eat and are likely to look increasingly to the extremes of discount or super-premium products, which will squeeze center-ground brands.
  5. Seniors draw attention: Companies are starting to address the needs of an aging population, both in terms of packaging functionality and of general and specific health concerns.
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