Grocery Innovations Canada is the annual “must attend” event for professionals involved in the retail and food service industry. We were there again this year to see what’s hot and what’s not, as well as to check out new food and beverage innovations.
Here are the top five trends that jumped out at us.
Clean ingredient list. Consumers are looking for pronounceable ingredients. What is NOT on the label is as important to consumers as what IS printed on the packaging. More shoppers are asking for ‘natural’ or unprocessed products. We expect to see more of this “ free of ….“ focus in the future.
Ethnic flavours continue to be a strong trend. Food makers anticipate a growth in Asian, Indian and Latin America cuisine.
Supermarket Chef Showdown! Canadians eat out often and busy shoppers are looking for help with prepared meals. Supermarket chefs showed their talents on how they create delicious and healthy meals to attract food loving grocery shoppers. In the Globe and Mail, Marina Strauss reports on this fast growing grocery-resto or takeout trend calling it the “Grocerant”
Chocolate, Chia and Coconut were notable ingredient trends. New product innovations with chocolate included baked goods, lactose free chocolate milk (Natrel) and chocolate flavoured peanut butter (Kraft). Chia seeds were introduced in new yogurts (Olympic), cereals and breads. (Chia seeds are similar to flax seed and contain omega-3 fats and boost fibre.) Coconut was featured in whipped cream from Gay Lea Foods, and in Campbell’s Thai Tomato Coconut Soup.
Go Green theme was evident in several sustainable and environmentally friendly innovations. For example “Green” shopping bags are made of material that resists bacterial growth and the Green Lid bins are completely compostable containers made from recyclable cardboard and newsprint.
From protein and probiotics to tea and cooking, we’ve got the scoop on the top 10 hottest trends for 2014.
Protein Power – New science is underscoring the beneficial effect of dietary protein on weight management and muscle health. For example, eating a high protein breakfast not only leads to increased feeling of fullness but also reduces evening snacking. Also, a protein source at each meal and snack helps to maintain energy and muscle strength especially after exercise and as we age. In light of this, current protein recommendations may be under review with respect to the amount and distribution of dietary protein, including considerations for meal based rather than specific daily recommendations.
Anti-wheat Sentiment – Although scientific evidence is lacking for wheat – or gluten-elimination diets for weight loss or health (unless it is associated with a clinical disorder or disease) consumers will continue to seek this popular diet. According to an NDP survey 28% of adults claimed to be cutting down or avoiding gluten completely.
Supermarket Savvy – Supermarket Dietitians are increasingly visible at grocery stores which is an exciting trend for consumers. Registered Dietitians are the food and nutrition experts who are uniquely positioned to assist Canadians to shop smarter, cook healthier, and make healthier food choices. Some experts predict that supermarkets could become a new form of the culinary centre. Many stores already offer cooking demos or “community cooking centers” that allow shoppers to come together and learn from one another.
Back to Basics with Cooking – The 2014 Nutrition Month Campaign – Simply Cook and Enjoy! – is dedicated to serving up practical advice on cooking and food skills from dietitians, the food and nutrition experts. Health Canada’s Healthy Eating Awareness and Education Initiative for 2014 concentrates on Healthy Eating and Healthy weights by focusing on food skills, portion sizes and calories. Industry experts say that a deeper understanding of how Canadians prepare and consume meals helps manufacturers and retailers provide mealtime solutions in the kitchen.
Pro Biotic Power & Fermented Foods – Studies suggest that probiotics (live bacteria in food) may help lessen diarrhea, improve symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Consumers may be interested in foods other than yogurt that contain probiotics such as fermented foods like kefir milk, sauerkraut and kimchi. Also watch for more news on the gut – brain connection.
Sugar & Sugar Substitutes – Media and consumers are intent on added sugar as another food trend. An IFIC survey reported that 58% of Americans are trying to limit or avoid sugar. Helping consumers understand the role of naturally occurring sugar, added sugar and sugar substitutes is important so they can make informed food and nutrition choices.
Local &Eco-conscious – Sustainable food systems, local and eco-friendly foods are important to many Canadians who believe that a sustainable eating pattern contributes to their own health as well as the health of the planet. Food researchers say roughly one-third of food produced for humans around the globe is lost or wasted each year – 1.3 billion tons of it. Increased awareness of this problem is expected in 2014 with home and restaurant food preparers attempting to reduce food waste. Look for ways to promote sustainability in the kitchen, understand the issues of organics, local food systems, food choices, and carbon footprint.
Government &Industry Compliance – Canada’s regulatory landscape continues to evolve and as a result industry’s relationship with regulators is also changing. Health Canada recognizes that a safe food supply is a major contributing factor to the health of Canadians. Food industry is also committed to providing safe food and wants to make sure consumers are happy with their products and continue to purchase them. Maintaining healthy and happy consumers is a challenge government and industry must face by working together.
Tea is Hot – Canadian Tea consumption is expected to rise by 40%. Flavoured teas are catching on too. Expect to hear more about the health benefits of tea flavonoids related to heart health, brain health and weight management. Furthermore, tea is not just for sipping anymore, this natural ingredient is making its way into rubs, broths and marinades.
The Age of (Mis)information & Social Media – Consumers continue to have an appetite for food and nutrition information which will only grow in 2014. Bloggers will continue to write about nutrition and health, there will be more and better food photography – watch for it on Pintrest and Instagram. With the boom of social media and the interest in health and nutrition, Canadians will continue to need advice from food and nutrition experts like dietitians to cut through the clutter.