The dairy industry responds to 2020’s top trends

The influence of Innova Market Insights Top Ten Trends for 2020 is clearly apparent in the dairy category, which is facing key challenges in remaining viable amid changing consumer tastes, particularly due to the ever-increasing interest in plant-based alternatives.

While the challenges presented by the market researcher’s ‘The Plant Based Revolution’ trend are clear, the dairy industry is responding with innovations focusing on other 2020 top trends, including ‘The Right Bite’, ‘Macronutrient Makeover’, ‘Tapping into Texture’ and ‘Hello Hybrids’, further developing its emphasis on health as well as pleasure.

‘The Right Bite’ describes the desire of busy consumers to maintain healthy lifestyles, both physically and mentally, raising the demand for nutritious foods that are easy to prepare, convenient and portable. Indulgent treats also play a role in relaxation and enjoyment.

‘Macronutrient Makeover’ highlights attention being paid to changing perceptions of macronutrient content and balance.

Typically one macronutrient at a time is the focus of consumer concern, for instance low fat and low calorie, with low-/no-sugar currently leading in terms of being the most influential factor in purchasing decisions, according to a 2019 Innova Consumer Survey (UK, US, Spain, France, Brazil, Germany, Mexico and China). As a result, the dairy industry is continually searching for natural sugar reducing solutions, which is why the use of cultures and enzymes has become an area of particular interest and popularity.

Innova’s ‘Tapping into Texture’ trend focuses on consumers’ increasing recognition of the influence of texture on dairy, allowing a heightened sensory experience and often a greater feeling of indulgence. According to Innova’s research, an average 45% of US and UK consumers are influenced by texture when buying food and drinks, with 68% sharing the opinion that textures contribute to a more interesting food and beverage experience.

Terms such as ‘thick and creamy’, ‘smooth’, ‘crispy’ and ‘crunchy’ are increasingly evident in marketing and advertising materials for milk drinks, yogurt and cheese products. Milk and other milk drinks are more often conveyed with added indulgence through texture and mouthfeel claims that were not previously in widespread use within this subcategory.

Innova’s ‘Hello Hybrids’ trend recognizes the growing interest in products combining two different features. Increasingly adventurous consumers tend to be highly receptive to hybrid concepts, with interest in blending ingredients, combining food types and mixing flavor profiles. According to Innova’s research, seven in ten US and one in two UK consumers like products that mix flavors, such as sweet and salted.

Hybrid concepts in dairy are taking a variety of forms, including category fusions such as ice cream flavored yogurts, mixed taste profiles such as drinks with sweet and savory flavor blends and blended ingredients such as dairy and non-dairy milk combinations, featuring options such as oat and almond.

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