It’s January — for many of us, that means it’s time to put away the holiday decorations and make at least a half-hearted attempt to stay true to those New Year’s resolutions. For me, it’s also time to share a sampling of forecasted 2019 food-and-beverage-related trends that could spell opportunity for the dairy sector.
Retail grocery giant Kroger is one of a number of businesses that recently published a list of 2019 food trend predictions. To create its list, the Cincinnati-based company said it relied on input from its private brands team of product developers, chefs and “innovators.”
Dairy processors will want to note that Kroger included continued consumer interest in gut-healthy foods among its top five trends. After all, dairy products such as yogurt have long been consumer-accepted vehicles for gut-healthy probiotics.
“Medical studies show that a healthy gut is the foundation of overall wellness, and more than ever before, consumers are seeking foods that support self-care and healthy immune systems,” Kroger said.
“Trend spotters” from another well-known grocery retailer, Whole Foods Market, weighed in with their own 2019 food and beverage trends, too. And two of the top 10 trends listed — shelf-stable probiotics and “phat” fats — bode well for dairy product development.
According to Whole Foods Market, new strains of probiotics are making more shelf-stable applications possible. This reality could create new opportunities in shelf-stable dairy beverages.
The Austin, Texas-headquartered retailer also noted that fats are becoming “starring ingredients in creative, convenient foods” — thanks to the rising popularity of keto, paleo and other fat-friendly diets. That should spur increased interest in high-fat foods, with Whole Foods Market pointing to multiple flavors of ghee as a specific dairy opportunity.
And outside the retailer arena, global market research firm Mintel weighed in with its own three global trends — evergreen consumption, through the ages and elevated convenience. All three trends are applicable to the dairy segment.
Evergreen consumption refers to the movement toward “circularity.” Sustainability increasingly considers the entire product lifestyle, Mintel noted, “from ingredient sourcing to packaging design, disposal or reuse.” That creates an opportunity for dairy processors (and other food and beverage manufacturers) to collaborate with suppliers, governments, nonprofits, retailers and others to extend sustainability from “farm to retailer to fork to bin and, ideally, to rebirth as a new plant, ingredient, product or package.”
Through the ages, meanwhile, speaks to healthy aging as an emerging food and drink opportunity, Mintel said. Food and beverage processors have a chance to create products that help consumers of all ages improve “bone, joint and brain health, as well as proactively address other age-related health concerns.” Mintel pointed to Fairlife’s inclusion of DHA omega-3 fatty acids in its ultra-filtered milk as an example of a dairy product tapping into this trend.
As for the trend toward elevated convenience, it’s being driven, in part, by the iGeneration (Generation Z). Much like the millennials, this generation includes “people who are passionate about food, but might lack the skills, equipment or time to prepare the foods they are used to seeing on cooking shows or eating out of home,” Mintel said. That opens the door for “premium” packaged convenience foods that are in line with the needs of this “food-obsessed” generation.
Speaking of food-obsessed consumers, it’s also worth taking a peek at predicted 2019 food and beverage trends at the restaurant level. After all, those trends often inspire packaged food and beverage product development.
In its list of the 13 “hottest” restaurant-level food and beverage trends for 2019, New York-based restaurant consulting firm Baum +Whiteman includes “getting sweet on sour.” Thanks to the popularity of Korean food and the rising influence of Filipino and Persian foods, “mouth-puckering, saliva-inducing” sour ingredients and flavors are expected to pop up more often on menus.
That means dairy processors might — in the not-to-distant future — be able to attract new consumers with inclusions such as sour oranges, rhubarb, fresh and dried limes, and other tart fruit.