2019 was an innovative year in the food industry environment. Several trends have gained strength and helped to establish a new look for foods that have always been present in our lives, in addition to popularizing new flavours and products that will surely become part of the routine of most consumers.
Healthy snacks, additive-free formulations and synthetic ingredients, and the growth of veganism were some of the trends that gained momentum in 2019 and helped to define what to expect in the food market in the next few years.
2020 brings with it more trends that are expected to further transform the market and surprise the consumer.
The focus now is more on the close relationship between the consumer and the food that reaches the table. In addition, during a decade in which there has been so much talk about the environment, the topic of sustainability will be a highlight as well.
Another important point is the consumer’s interest in convenience, practicality and new flavours, and in this trend, foods that are part of West African cuisine, could become very famous.
But before we know what 2020 has to offer, let’s recap what we saw during the last year…
What was important in 2019?
You have probably heard a lot about the flavours of the Pacific coast (Asia, Oceania and the west coast of the Americas). Ingredients such as longganisa, a pork sausage from the Philippines, dehydrated shrimp and shrimp paste have become part of the dishes on the menu of several restaurants.
In addition, tropical fruits such as guava, passion fruit and pitaya have become an essential part of smoothies and even alcoholic drinks.
The snack market has also undergone a major change last year. Formerly seen as junk food, this category of products has changed significantly. The search for healthiness and well-being encouraged the elaboration of snacks, with proposals for unusual ingredients to make them healthier, such as the incorporation of quinoa in chocolate bars and cauliflower in pretzel and tortilla chip formulations.
Veganism has also grown as a movement in 2019, being adopted by several new sympathizers. The American magazine The Economist even named 2019 as the year of the vegan.
One of the main developments in this field was the growth of plant-based hamburgers. We can mention the Beyond Meat hamburger, which has beets, coconut oil and cocoa butter as base ingredients that simulate the juiciness and flavour of conventional hamburgers. We also observed a greater offer of products based on vegetable proteins such as soybeans, beans and chickpeas.
Animal protein was also growing in 2019, but in a different way. The new vision of the industry focused on sustainability has led to the growth of new solutions created to obtain the best use of raw materials of animal origin, from the noblest cuts to the by-products generated during the industrialization processes.
Inserted in this new vision, industries have invested even more in research to transform the poultry and pork processing by-products into new products of interest to the food industry. By-products contributed to reinserting valuable food parts into the production chain, resulting in more sustainable production and less impact on the environment.
The clean label trend was also further strengthened during the last year. Products free of stabilizers, preservatives and synthetic antioxidants drew attention and this demand has encouraged the food industry to increasingly simplify their formulations and opt for natural ingredients.
In 2020, traceability will be one of the most important words
Traceability in the food industry can be defined as the ability to follow the history of a food from its raw material, following the production steps, up to reaching the final consumer.
In the end, it is desired that everyone involved in production, transportation and marketing have access to this information, in addition, of course, to the consumer.
The possibility of tracing the origin and the path through which the food passed until reaching the consumer’s table, makes people feel more secure in relation to the quality of the food he/she is consuming and creates a greater degree of reliability with the product and the brand. Therefore, it can be said that traceability is one of the ways to strengthen the ties between consumers and the company.
In this way, traceability can be seen as a way to add value to products.
In addition to that, the ability to track a food is advantageous for the company itself. Which now has greater capacity to identify critical points to be resolved, in order to achieve more efficiency and assertiveness in its processes and for solving problems.
The tracking procedures are also important to check aspects related to food safety. This makes it possible, for example, to recall products that are out of specification or that present a risk to the health of consumers, limiting the economic impact and damage to the brand’s reputation.
Sustainability will continue to dictate food production
Greater environmental awareness is already a reality among consumers, especially those on a younger age. According to a CGS survey conducted in 2019 in the U.S., more than 50% of generation Z consumers are willing to pay more for an eco-friendly product, compared to 47.7% for the rest of the population.
As could be expected, the products consumed by this audience need to be aligned with their values. Also, according to the research above, while the general population is more focused on aspects such as price and availability, generation Z, in contrast, demands products manufactured ethically.
Thus, producing sustainably means using natural resources intelligently and efficiently, reducing as much as possible the damage to the environment.
This reinforces the importance of using by-products from food processing to formulate new products. By-products can have a huge range of compounds of interest, such as natural antioxidants or ingredients of considerable nutritional value, especially in relation to protein content, and can contribute to a more natural flavour when it comes to improving food formulations.
Other possibilities of eco-friendly production include optimizing the functionality of the packaging – preferably using materials that can be recycled or that are biodegradable – in addition to conserving and reusing water and energy efficiently during food processing, avoiding waste of natural resources.
In the same way that sustainable development will continue to be a strong trend in 2020, new flavours will also be present on the table of consumers.
The flavours of West Africa
Just as the love for Japanese cuisine spread around the world between the 70s and 80s, new flavours and spices are coming. What reinforces the trend of sensoriality and pleasure.
The ingredients used in the cuisine of West African countries, such as Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal, are gaining more and more space in the cuisines of several other countries.
This trend started to be incorporated by less formal food services, such as food trucks and smaller restaurants. They began to use exotic ingredients that were widely accepted as cola nuts, moringa, yams, ginger, okra, peanuts and sorghum in their dishes, all typical from African cuisine.
The popularization of this trend is also due to the fact that, often, the dishes do not have gluten and have high content of vegetable protein.
Some projections even claim that West African cuisine may become even more popular than the already internationally established Indian cuisine, as it fits perfectly with today’s food trends.
It seems that 2020 will bring more trends related to the change in consumer behaviour, which has been already observed for some years.
Sustainability and traceability should be the focus throughout the year, with concern for the environment and the origin of food dictating how new and already known products are produced.
In addition, international cuisine will again influence local flavours with the popularization of typical West African dishes and ingredients.