What's new on shelf?

* 3 min read
Once a new ingredient hits the mainstream, it’s everywhere. Green tea, coconut oil, chia seeds – all once niche, but now a regular fixture on supermarket shelves. And for 2018, there are a whole host of ingredients lined up to make headlines. But it’s not just about ingredients; certain health concerns come in and out of the headlines on a regular basis, changing the consumer’s focus to a different need in both the short and long term.

“2018’s big trends are set to be Poke (raw fish salad), cassava flour, seaweed, chaga mushrooms, and the continuing trend of using insects as a base ingredient as we look for more sources of protein in our diets, Hydration, heart health, digestion, energy levels and blood sugar levels are big on the news agenda, so could be next to inspire NPD”

Tamara Williams - Founder, Parker Williams

Texture, colour and visual stimulation is also set to be big business, as consumers look for something more sensory in their healthier options. According to Mintel, in 2018, the sound, feel, and satisfaction that texture provides will become more important. And as is often the case, Asia is already consuming the products that the West will by buying into in 2018.

From chewy beverages to complex formulations such as creamy ice cream with crispy chunks, texture can make products more captivating for consumers who continue to seek food and drink that is perceived as fresh, functional, filling, or simply fun, the report states. Asia is a model for the potential of unexpected applications of texture in food and drink because the region hosts a range of beverages with pulp, tapioca pearls, and extra carbonation along with food that also boasts innovative textures that might be unheard of in other parts of the world.

A case in point is fermenting – a technique that’s been around for years in the East and Scandinavia, but that’s now becoming increasingly popular in the UK. Ready-made kimchi, kombucha and milk kefir, plus DIY kits to make your own, are set to be big business in 2018, particularly as our demand for holistic health grows.

Jars p36

"The types of bacteria found in ferments are thought to be related to the more widely known (and more clinically tested) probiotic bacterial species with the same assumed plethora of health benefits, some of which are still being researched. Whilst the current consumer interest in fermented products may be driven by media stories, or the desire to reduce food waste, communicating commercially about their health benefits is likely to be a challenge following the probiotic legal decisions and the important need for clinical substantiation of any health claims.”

Sally Moore - Senior Lecturer in Food & Nutrition, Leeds Trinity University.

Health is going mainstream across all channels and will continue to grow this year – in store and online - with former disruptors now tapping in to the general family market. Recipe box suppliers Hello Fresh launched by not positioning themselves as healthier, but their focus on wholesome home cooked meals has resonated with couples and families looking to eat more healthily all week.

Hello Fresh min

And now the firm is looking to launch breakfast solutions too, to cater for customers wanting on-the-go alternatives and weekend brunch options that aren’t a full English or a bacon sandwich. The service still has marginal market penetration, but has clearly got supermarkets worried; both Sainsbury’s and Waitrose have been trialling recipe box options to target from-scratch customers who want a convenient way to experiment in the kitchen.

Once niche services like MuscleFood are also seeing mainstream growth; the service, set up to deliver high quality protein for body builders online, has attracted interest from families looking to eat better on a budget. Selling bulk packs of mince, chicken and sausages at prices on a par with Tesco, MuscleFood raked in £50m in sales in its last financial year and now supplies products like its high-protein pizza to Sainsbury’s, the Co-op and Spar. So, not only is healthier eating having an impact on a product level, it’s having an impact on how and where we shop too.

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