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Fruit happenings – trends and new product innovation

April 21, 2020 | 3 min read

As I mentioned in my March Insights Blog, and before travel bans were implemented for most everyone, we had the pleasure of hosting Mintel’s Director of Innovation & Insight, Lynn Dornblaser, on the Tree Top campus. She shared with our team – “What’s happening in fruit” through the lens of trends and new product innovation in the U.S. and around the globe. While we work with fruit and fruit ingredients daily, it’s always informative to hear an outsider’s point of view, and especially someone with Lynn’s decades of new product knowledge.

It might be noteworthy to mention, the data Lynn shared was gathered before the country was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, it doesn’t take into account, the current state of the economy or the consequent changes in consumer behavior. So, I’ll give context to these trends in anticipation of our ‘next normal.’

Lynn’s four trends shaping food & drinks

  1. Power in purity – as consumers prioritize their health, they’re looking for products that are more natural, purer and cleaner.
    • 49% of Americans 18-years-old and above, say simple ingredients influence their food & beverage choices
    • Among the same group, 43% associate “natural” food & drinks as being healthier
    • Nearly 60% think brands should offer more natural/organic choices My take: This is a trend that has taken root among younger consumers, and while many of them have been displaced from school and jobs during the pandemic, the basic desire for recognizable ingredients and minimal processing is not going to change. People’s ability to pay a premium for these types of products, though, is more likely to be lower.
  2. Focus on the functional – People want food and beverages with benefits, e.g., energy, immunity, mental focus. Taste alone is no longer enough.
    • In 2019, 16% of all new products made a functional claim
    • 42% of 18- to 34-year-olds turn to grocery stores to improve their general wellbeing and health compared to 22% of those over 55.
    • 90% of coffee drinkers, ideally would like their java to have at least one more functional benefit other than caffeine.My take: The desire for foods with functional benefits has only grown with the COVID pandemic, especially for immune-enhancing products. As people are cooking and eating more at home, they’re paying more attention to what’s in the food and beverages they’re consuming. The reason people are at home is to preserve their health, so this trend has actually been accentuated. 
  3. Democratization of luxury – Mid-market consumers are willing to trade up to more premium grocery items.
    • 65% of adult frozen/refrigerated pizza consumers are willing to pay more for higher quality.
    • 35% of U.S. diners would pay more for higher-quality ingredients
    • 57% of U.S. adults would be interested in premium sandwich toppingsMy take: Here is where we’re likely to see a pullback in spending or perhaps a reshaping of this trend into “affordable indulgence.” While people may likely curtail spending, the desire to treat themselves still resonates. There’s an opportunity for brands positioned to provide indulgence at a manageable price point.
  4. Experiments in the exotic – Bolder, more exotic flavors are the choice of the young ‘foodie’ generation.
    • While 36% of U.S. adults describe themselves as foodies, 52% of 18- to 34-year-olds are foodies.
    • Within the same age groups, 39% of all adults are interested in trying international street food, while 48% of younger adults are.
    • 25% of overall adults love spicy foods; it jumps to 38% among Gen Z adults

My take: Millennials and Gen Z are the most ethnically diverse in the U.S., so it’s no surprise they’re drawn to exotic/bold flavors and international foods. This preference is not going to change because of the pandemic. What may change is the desire to eat more of these foods at home rather than at restaurants – at least in the short term.

Wholesome fruit ingredients

Lynn’s conclusion after laying out these trends was that there’s room for fruit in new products. This is because consumers report they are trying to eat more fruit than they were previously eating fruit as a snack, adding it to recipes and incorporating fruit into meals. And fruit fits into the consumer trends/desires for pure, natural ingredient that provide functional/health benefits. Fruit is also a natural in boldly flavored and international foods.

I couldn’t agree more wholeheartedly that fruit ingredients offer an opportunity in food and beverage development to deliver consumer desires for natural, pure, organic and easily recognizable ingredients. Fruit has always had a healthy halo, and it’s well deserved. The nutritional benefits of fruit are well documented.

Tree Top offers more fruits, in more forms, offering food formulators more possibilities to incorporate healthy and wholesome ingredients into their products. Our expertise in transforming fresh fruits into unique and cost-effective ingredients is what makes Tree Top a leading supplier to the world’s top food manufacturers. Check out our full line of Fruit-based ingredients and let us help you develop your next product offering.

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