Trendspotting at IFT

The TIC Gums Mascot isn't trendy, but he's still at IFT.

The TIC Gums Mascot isn’t all that trendy, but he’s still at IFT.

In a place as massive as the New Orleans Morial Convention Center, it can be easy to lose your way in the sea of “world’s first ___” claims and free samples. The TIC Gums booth featured a bearded mascot who wanted to take a picture with you. Pop Rocks had a booth of its own, claiming that its electric delicacies fit well in milkshakes. Distractions aside, BevNET dug deep into this year’s Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) show and spotted trends — emerging and yet to surface alike — that have already shifted or could soon make a dent in the beverage industry. And if you’re thinking about launching an aspartame-sweetened cola with a side of GMOs, you may want to take some notes.

Waves of Grain

Ingredient suppliers are continuing to find new ways to meet the demands of an evolving market that calls for more protein and energy sources. While Monster and Red Bull continue to dominate the energy drink market, a growing number of consumers beyond natural channels are seeking alternative ingredients that can offer energy-boosting qualities.

Mamma Chia and Chia/Vie have long served as the torchbearers of the small, but growing, chia beverage industry. However, recent figures provided at IFT by market research group Mintel indicate that this small but intriguing category could soon grow into a more significant global player. In 2012-13, chia products in food and beverage increased by approximately 140 percent. And it wasn’t the only grain to see a significant boost during this time frame. A few other growing ingredients include high-protein wheat product Kamut (78 percent), sorghum (65 percent), millet (54 percent) and oats (48 percent).

mintelThe growing interest in alternative protein sources has also led to the introduction of a number of plant-based options sourced from rice, pea and microalgae. Roquette, a plant-based supplier in northern France, introduced algility HP, one of a number of algae proteins at the show that can be applied to juices and smoothies, among other beverages with a thick enough viscosity.

The microalgaes caught the eye of Mintel senior consultant Nirvana Chapman, who connected these somewhat funky ingredients to the nature of the beverage industry.

“I feel like beverage gets leeway to be a little bit more experimental,” Chapman said.

A few other noteworthy figures via Mintel:

  • In the past five years, sucralose has been consistently featured in about 40 percent of product launches. However, over the same time frame, product launches with aspartame have decreased by 8 percent.

  • In 2013, 40 percent of flavored coffee launches in the U.S. were sweet flavors.

  • 22 percent of Americans believe gluten-free is bad for you.

  • “No additives” is the top claim on new products launched globally. The phrase appears on more than 16 percent of new products in certain regions.

  • 35 percent of consumers in the U.S. believe “made with whole grains” defines a healthy menu item.

  • 54 percent of men and 65 percent of women read the labels on foods before they make a purchase.

  • 34 percent of U.S. parents want to see brands commit to non-GMO ingredients.

  • 74 percent of U.S. consumers are “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about food safety.