With more pressing concerns – such as transport ships stuck at ports, climbing ingredient prices, and nagging labor issues – it’s easy to think brands might be overlooking longer-term goals, such as new product development.
But uncertain times are fertile ground for innovation, something that British global ingredient supplier Tate & Lyle knows well. Last month, the company published what it sees as trends that will guide food and beverage innovation in 2022.
“By understanding how values, behaviors, and appetites are changing, and the drivers behind these shifts, food and beverage brands can launch products that meet the needs of consumers today and better anticipate how these will evolve,” Tate & Lyle Market Research Director Beth Nieman Hacker said.
Tate & Lyle’s market research division gathered proprietary consumer research, pored over reams of third-party research, and identified six trends driving consumer purchasing behavior:
Industry experts have crowed about the emergence of transparency as a market driver for years, but increasingly label-conscious consumers might finally get their wish in 2022. That will happen when 84% of global consumers insist that they read labels regularly, as Tate & Lyle internal research found. Consumers want healthier food and beverages. They want to have faith in what they buy. And they definitely want to know where the ingredients in those products come from. The clean label movement is here to stay, whether it’s focused on all-natural claims, sustainability promises, or fair labor practices.
No market niche addresses growing consumer demand for healthy, sustainable products better than plant-based offerings. Tate & Lyle found that 48% of consumers admit they’ve altered their diets over the past two years in a bid to “lead a more sustainable lifestyle.” Plant-based SKUs give consumers that chance while providing healthier dietary options, a paramount concern during a lingering global health crisis.
Sugar: Take It or Leave It?
Those same health-minded consumers have also been looking for ways to cut sugar out of their diets. Tate & Lyle’s responded with a pledge to eliminate 9 million tons of sugar from the market by 2025 through the company’s low- and no-calorie sweeteners and fibers. But it’s a hard habit to break. As a result, consumers remain split between leaving sugar behind and holding on to great-tasting food and beverage products.
A Gut Feeling
Despite a growing passion for healthier diets, consumers worldwide still don’t get enough fiber daily, which is critical for maintaining gut health. Not that consumers don’t get it. Tate & Lyle found that 53% of global consumers plan to incorporate more fiber into their diets, which should drive demand for products in the gut health category.
Consumers remain chronically short on time and patience despite a pervasive, always-connected lifestyle – or maybe because of it. They want easy access to food and beverages, and they want it immediately. Tate & Lyle’s research revealed that a whopping 91% of consumers are “interested in products that save them time and effort.” But while convenience matters to consumers, it presents formulation challenges for manufacturers.
Speaking of convenience, snacking’s skyrocketed over the past couple of years. But they’re not sneaking chips or cookies in between meals. Instead, consumers have warmed to – you guessed it – healthier snacks. More than half of consumers around the world want more nutritional snacks. “Better-for-you” snacks face a bright future.
The pandemic – and the supply chain chaos it continues to leave in its wake – presented new challenges to innovation. But it also ushed in the best opportunity to introduce food and beverage innovations to satisfy growing consumer demand. As a result, brands that stepped back from new product development to address supply chain bottlenecks and labor challenges risked surrendering market share.