Low-fat. Flexitarian. Low-carb. Gluten-free. All food trends recognizable from the past decade and beyond.
At Sensient, we employ a variety of tools, resources and techniques to keep our eyes and ears (and taste buds) open for up-and-coming trends and consumer preferences. Our trend-spotters are always active, attending and participating in key conferences and meetings across the globe.
The flagship meet-up – and the industry’s largest collection of food and beverage ingredients, suppliers and masterminds under one roof – is the annual Institute of Food Technologists’ meeting and food exposition, held in Chicago this summer.
The leading trend at this year’s IFT? Clean label.
While the term “clean label” is relatively new, the idea has been around and articulated differently for years and all signs at IFT pointed to its continued climb. Driving the current growth is increased consumer desire for transparency and wellbeing, as well as an aversion to processed foods and synthetic ingredients. Products that are free from artificial flavors, colors, flavors, synthetic hormones, non-natural preservatives, artificial sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup are in greater demand and the industry’s prime area of innovation.
“Consumers perceive clean labels to be connected to organic and ‘natural,’ as well as local and sustainable products, which are also associated with higher quality,” said Lauren Williams, beverage marketing manager at Sensient Flavors. “Today’s shoppers tend to be increasingly drawn to products made with ingredients that are perceived to be ‘clean’ – simple, pure and unprocessed.”
Unlike some of the fads of the past, as more consumers begin to pay attention to and take an interest in the ingredient lists on what they’re eating, we believe clean label is here to stay.
Key flavor trends at this year’s IFT.
Since its introduction in 1996, Wendy's Spicy Chicken Sandwich quickly became a solid fan favorite, even before spicy was hot. As one of the first such offerings in quick service, the sandwich relies on the strength of the spices in the chicken fillet to deliver flavor and heat.
When Kraft macaroni and cheese lost its signature, neon-tinged orange flare this year, it was instantly recognizable to consumers. The shift from processed foods to natural alternatives was a game-changer and turning down the volume on color was a sign of the times. If Kraft's established, secure product was changing, suddenly no product was safe.