Dairy big winner in food trends for 2015

Marketing products that have naturally functional ingredients and benefits remains the ‘king of trends’, according to the new trend forecast for 2015 from New Nutrition Business. “Naturally functional is an innovation strategy and it is behind many of the biggest successes such as water and almonds,” says Julian Mellentin, author of 10 Key Trends in Food, Nutrition and Health 2015. “But in particular dairy has been the biggest winner, with sales of Greek yogurt, butter and other dairy foods soaring on the back of their positive nutrition credentials.”

For example, one key trend is that dairy is enjoying a renaissance. Dairy’s image is getting a boost as science both refutes negatives around dairy fats and uncovers more about the positive effects of dairy consumption.

Dairy is emerging as a big winner of changing perceptions of fat – US butter sales have overtaken table spreads as people get permission to indulge in more traditional dairy products. People are beginning to understand that eating fat doesn’t make you fat, which links in with another trend, the slow death of low fat. But although research is revealing that fat is not the enemy of health we thought it was, consumer change will be slow. Younger consumers are the group most likely to change their habits around fat.

Big businesses have spotted the growth potential for dairy as nature’s health food. The most recent example is Coca-Cola’s launch of Fairlife, a high-protein, lactose-free, low-sugar milk.

High-protein foods are another key trend. Consumers turn to dairy first when they look for protein. Protein has benefited from its link with weight management. Protein is an easy ingredient for people to understand, it’s natural, backed by science and it has a long-standing association with maintaining a healthy figure.

Meanwhile, sugar has become the new dietary demon as a trend – replacing fat and salt – and this spotlight on sugar content has created a challenge for dairy companies. Many are wrestling with how to meet expectations of lower sugar and boost business. Dairy companies are taking a wealth of creative approaches to lowering sugar content, and creating a lactose-free product is one way to do this (such as Coca-Cola’s Fairlife brand). Lowering sugar content has produced some clear winners in the kids market, such as Tru-Moo, a sugar-reduced chocolate milk which is the most successful kids product ever launched.

Consumer interest in free-from foods is increasing as another trend. The biggest area is gluten-free, and the dairy industry both in Europe and the US has been particularly quick to exploit dairy’s gluten-free credentials. According to Mintel GNPD data, launches of dairy products that communicate that they are gluten free outstrip any other category in the supermarket, with 1,100 gluten-free dairy products launched in Europe and the US in 2014 alone. However, sales of lactose-free milk in Asia and in Europe will continue to grow rapidly from the current base of 200 million litres a year. Lactose-free is now the second biggest free-from after gluten.

The 10 key trends present a mass of innovation and renovation opportunities for both big brands and entrepreneurial brands. The most successful products and brands connect to multiple trends – even if the connection is a secondary positioning for the brand rather than 
a primary positioning. In today’s competitive market ingredient companies must be as knowledgeable about the final consumer as their customers are. Ingredient suppliers need to know which trends their ingredients connect to, because how well connected they are will dictate how successful they are going to be.

“Understanding the key trends will help ingredient companies to create applications and marketing messages that will enable their customers to create successful brands,” says Mellentin.

10 Key Trends 2015 by Julian Mellentin is published in December 2014. It is available for purchase at www.new-nutrition.com.

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