4 Apr. 2022
Health. Without question, it’s the trend that’s affecting most businesses in the global food industry in 2022. And over the years that our Taste Tomorrow program has been running, health has steadily climbed up the agenda across all the facets of our research – in our interviews with foodies, our social listening and our questions to consumers that take place week in, week out, all over the world.
In fact, health now underpins many of the trends that Puratos extrapolates from the many thousands of datapoints that Taste Tomorrow captures. But the sheer volume of information we have, and the complexity of this topic – how do consumers today actually view and address health? – mean it’s more important than ever that we not only define what the big trends are and identify the drivers behind them, but also develop new ingredients and concepts that help our customers tap into them.
Healthy indulgence is a trend that’s truly taken shape over recent months and is reflected in reports from researchers like FMCG Gurus and Mintel. It has huge implications for Puratos customers – indulgence is a keystone of many of these businesses. Nearly six in ten people polled in Taste Tomorrow say they would prefer healthier options rather than compromise on how often they could eat indulgent treats. Successfully addressing, in a single product, two powerful consumer motivations that historically were incompatible – this, surely, is a panacea?
Taste Tomorrow gives clear indicators of the opportunities for healthy indulgence – even in the most indulgent category of the food industry: chocolate. The number of respondents agreeing that “chocolate is healthy” has risen by 15% over the past three years. This view is most popular in the over 50s. There is also a wider appreciation of cocoa’s nutritional value (confirmed by two in three Taste Tomorrow respondents). Now, by offering reduced sugar varieties and plant-based options, chocolatiers can appeal directly to people looking to lower or exclude ingredients they feel don’t align with their health ambitions.
In bakery, where the inclusion of fruit is already popular, opportunities are now growing in sweet products that contain vegetable ingredients. Nearly seven in ten consumers in the APAC region expressed interest in such offerings, a figure closely followed by the Middle East and Africa, and South America. Beetroot, zucchini and squashes may all follow where carrots started – offering valuable nutrients, natural sweetness and, in many cases, a dash of color.
But product development for the healthy indulgence trend doesn’t have to entail blue-sky thinking and completely new recipes. The removal of fat and / or sugar is still viewed by two in three consumers as a contributor to better health – but perceptions differ between regions. Interpreting the latest Taste Tomorrow findings, we can see that lowering fat content would resonate more in South America and APAC, whereas cutting sugar is more important to people in Europe, North America and especially the Middle East and Africa. Food manufacturers do know that there is more to sugar and fat than just a sweet taste and a pleasant texture. Before simply removing these ingredients, it’s important to carefully consider how they can be replaced without making the finished product less indulgent for consumers. Critically, Puratos’s recent advances in ingredient technology mean that both these strategies are now easier to implement. Our clean(er) label fat reduction solutions help to make sweet baked goods healthier without compromising on indulgence, while our sugar-reduced product range allows for 30% sugar reduction in patisserie and 40% in chocolate without using any extra additives and sticking only with natural ingredients.
No matter how an individual defines health and well-being- weight control, the avoidance of allergens, heart health, animal welfare or the protection of the planet’s natural resources – it doesn’t exist in isolation. It’s a priority, but not the only priority. Taste Tomorrow shows us differences exist not only between regions, but also between countries, ages and genders. Understanding the concerns, attitudes and perceptions of your specific target market makes it easier to determine the most successful way to serve the healthy indulgence market. Ultimately, this not only sells products and creates loyalty – it helps consumers to achieve their health and well-being goals and actually enjoy the journey towards them.