Steamed products, beauty foods, detox products and munching on nuts are just some of the key trends in consumer packaged goods for the coming year...
Steam it up
What says both ‘fresh’ and ‘tasty’ to today’s consumer? Steam and steam cooking. Steam literally has a head of steam in the frozen food market as a growing number of food makers introduce products showcasing the cooking power of steam. Buoyed by a new generation of microwave cook-in-bags that vent excess steam during the cooking process, the trend is picking up momentum with launches like Dole Easy Steamer Potatoes (USA), Birds Eye Steamfresh Specially Seasoned Rice (USA) and Bonduelle Vapeur Vegetables (France).Nuts about nuts (and seeds)
It wasn't all that long ago that consumers were told to avoid nuts. Too much fat, the experts said. Well, the experts have reversed course and nuts are now hailed as nutritional powerhouses which is why they are showing up in more new product launches. Snack bars, in fact, are increasingly going ‘naked' to showcase nut ingredients. You won't find Quaker True Delights Chewy Granola Bars (USA) covered in chocolate as the PepsiCo product claims ‘you can actually see large chunks of macadamia nuts'. Seeds too are getting their due on the health front, including flax seeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.
Don't energize, relax
Energy drinks have certainly taken the world by storm. But is there a potential change in the offing? If economic woes caused by an overly-caffeinated worldwide financial system are a metaphor for what may happen in food and beverage markets, then get ready for more relaxation offerings. New product offerings going the relaxation route include Drank Relaxed Energy Beverage (USA) dubbed the ‘world's first extreme relaxation beverage' that induces a natural calming and soothing effect when consumed. Also new are Purple Stuff Pro-Relaxation & Calming Elixir (USA), Nescafe Body Partner Relax Coffee which is decaffeinated coffee infused with chamomile (Philippines) and Lotte Relax Gum Apple Tea Mint (Japan). The latter is a new functional chewing gum with theanine from green tea that delivers a relaxing effect.
Hold the water
Stratospheric oil prices during 2008 caused companies to reexamine how they do business. One realisation firms made is that transporting water is expensive and it is cheaper to have consumers add their own water when possible. That's the idea behind Arm & Hammer Essentials (USA), a new line of cleaning products including Glass Cleaner and Multi-Surface Cleaner that is comprised of empty 32 fl. oz. trigger sprayer bottles sold with attached 1.2 oz. (35ml) bottles of liquid concentrate to be mixed with water. Kilrock Aquo Refillable Trigger Cleaning Spray is a UK product that follows the same principle. Look for this trend to really blossom in 2009 as the cost-cutting intensifies.
Beauty, you can eat or drink
Move over cosmetics. The new way to look beautiful is with an emerging generation of specially-formulated foods and drinks. Though the trend is very much in its infancy, it has attracted some attention from heavy-hitters in the food industry like Nestle and Masterfoods. Nestle's new Glowelle Beauty Drink Supplement Powder (USA) fights signs of aging from the inside out with skin-beautifying antioxidants. Masterfoods' Dove Beautiful Milk Chocolate has skin-nourishing ingredients like vitamins C and E along with biotin, zinc and cocoa flavanols. And in the UK, Beauty Spring Water touts its Praventin ingredient as rich in Lactoferrin to help reduce acne.
Worldwide financial markets are trying to detoxify themselves from bad loans. Consumers are doing some detoxification of their own thanks to new products hitting the market that promise to ‘detoxify' in one way or another. Some food-based detox products use liver-friendly ingredients like dandelion root as active ingredients, but regardless of the science behind the trend, consumers are paying attention to celebrities making a name for detox diets including Beyonce and Oprah Winfrey. Recent ‘detox' launches include Function Urban Detox Goji Berry Drink (USA), V Water Detox Vitamin Water (UK) and Biore Detoxify Daily Scrub (USA).
Get ready for stevia
It's been called the ‘holy grail' of sweeteners. Stevia is a natural sweetener that comes from the South American stevia plant and has the potential to turn the sweetener world upside down. This zero calorie sweetener has been used for years in South America and Japan, but has been banned in processed foods and beverages in the USA and much of Europe. That could change in 2009 as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is preparing to decide if stevia variant Rebaudioside A may be safely used in processed products. If approval is granted, the new product floodgates could open quickly as both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are both ready to roll with new stevia-sweetened drinks.
An eco-friendly world
Worldwide economies may be dipping, but that does not seem to have dampened the desire for companies and products to be perceived to be environmentally-friendly. Mentions of the word ‘eco' for new food and non-food packaged goods from around the world have nearly doubled in the last two years, according to Datamonitor's Product Launch Analytics. Nature Babycare Eco Sensitive Fragrance Free Awarded Wipes (Finland), Plush Eco Fabric Softener (Brazil) and Nvey Eco Organic Erase Corrective Makeup (Australia) are some products that are definitely ‘on trend'.
Who doesn't love flowers? Granted flowers are great to look at, but they are beginning to play a bigger role in new product formulations. Floral flavours like lavender, hibiscus and jasmine have long enjoyed success in non-foods, but are newer to foods and drinks markets. Examples include OOBA Sparkling Refreshing Hibiscus Beverage (USA) which is said to have a high level of antioxidants, Simply Hibi Health Drink (UK) and lavender-jalapeno-flavored Theo Caramel Collection Chocolates (USA). Subtle, non-fattening and aromatic, floral flavors look set to surprise in 2009.
In today's world, mental fitness may well be more important than physical fitness. Packaged goods makers seem to have come to the same conclusion as a growing number of brain health products are hitting the market. Touting ‘good-for-your-brain' ingredients like DHA omega-3's are recent entries like Kellogg's LiveBright Brain Health Bar (USA), IQ Plus Brain Drink (Austria and Germany) and Unilever's Rama Idea! Margarine (Europe). Mentions of the word ‘brain' in new food and beverage products worldwide have nearly tripled in the 2007-2008 period versus the 2005-2006 period.
Trends identified by Datamonitor's Product Launch Analytics www.datamonitor.com