The US food industry is constantly evolving and introducing unique flavors and foods that come from all over the world. With trends such as the plant-based diet on the rise, international foods offer more plant-based options for vegetarian/vegan/flexitarian consumers. Additionally, as the industry becomes more transparent to meet the demands of socially conscious consumers, certain food manufacturing practices are also becoming popular.
Innova Market Insights, a market research firm, identified the following three trends as some of the fastest growing food trends in the industry:
The US is known for its multicultural consumer demographic, which makes it no surprise that ethnic flavors are in high demand in the American food industry. In fact, new product launches that featured international flavors grew at a CAGR of 20 percent between 2013 and 2017.
According to Sarah Browner, food trends and innovation market analyst for Innova, there has never been this much variety of international foods in the US food industry. In fact, Browner claims that products featuring “American” flavors decreased by 7.2 percent between 2013-2017, whereas Mediterranean flavored foods increased by 13.8 percent.
Another growing trend in the ethnic food category is unique food truck offerings. Millennials, who are currently dominating the food space, are known to enjoy foods that are packed with flavor and out of the norm. This why food trucks have started to introduce fusion foods the combine familiar recipes with unique international ingredients such as sushi burritos and Korean BBQ tacos.
This curiosity and hunger for bold, unique and creative foods has inspired consumers to make such foods at home. This is why Innova found that four of the fastest growing sauces and seasonings come from ethnic cuisines such as Mexican, Indian, Spanish and sriracha chile.
At the end of the day, it’s all about variety and experience. Consumers are now more food connected than ever and would like to feel more than just satiation after purchasing foods. Ethnic cuisines are able to take consumers on a flavorful journey and with so much variety to choose from, companies can continue to keep shoppers entertained.
The demand for more plant-based food options continues to grow as many consumers are starting to incorporate more meat alternatives into their diets. This is bringing rise to the flexitarian lifestyle as more consumers cut out meat products from their diets once a day or week.
According to an international survey conducted by Innova Market Insights, half of the survey participants increased their consumption of fruits and vegetables in 2017. Innova also found that 44 percent of US consumers have increased their consumption of plant-based meat alternatives. The market research firm believes that this demand will continue to grow throughout the next few years.
In terms of plant-based products in particular, Innova claims that products that feature grains experienced the most growth in new product launches between 2013-2017. Other popular plant-based products featured spices, seeds, vegetables and fruit.
Positive Processing Techniques
The demand for transparency in the food space has pushed companies to clean up their manufacturing processes in order to appeal to consumers. Now that these consumers are aware of different food production techniques, it seems that they are leaning towards old-school and traditional processing methods over conventional ones.
This is why the number of products that claimed to be “crafted” or “made in a small batch” grew at a CAGR of 41 percent between 2013-2017, according to Innova. Processing terms such as stone milling, cold pressed or freeze-dried are also in high demand among consumers because of their unique ability to naturally preserve the nutritional qualities of food products.
As technology continues to influence consumers with pictures and videos of exotic foods, the demand for such products will continue to grow in the US. Just as international foods such as sushi, tahini, hummus and tzatziki have become mainstream products, consumers are looking to push more ethnic cuisines into their lifestyle. Food companies need to consider these ethnic flavors as well as consumer dieting habits and values while producing new food products. There needs to be a balance between socially conscious and flavorful food items in the market.