Plant-based ingredients will continue playing a starring role in 2017, with a couple of standouts, according to the SPINS Product Library Team.
First off, there’s a new nut in town: SPINS says cashews will become more popular in 2017, stealing some spotlight from almonds. “Despite stagnant numbers for shelf-stable nuts overall, cashews are growing cross-channel in double digits at 14%. Plant-based frozen desserts, growing overall at 49%, show even greater success for cashew-based items at 143% growth,” SPINS says. Besides desserts, cashews are appearing in everything from vegan butters and artisanal cheeses to Silk’s cashew milk.
Chicory root, which provides both sweetening and prebiotic properties, will gain a greater profile in 2017, aided by a few recent regulatory developments, SPINS predicts. First off, given that the new added-sugars feature on FDA’s nutrition facts label will put the spotlight on sugar content, more formulators may turn to chicory to help cut the level of sugar in their products. Secondly, chicory benefits from a new health claim in the EU, linking chicory inulin to healthy blood sugar. SPINS says chicory root is increasingly appearing in ready-to-drink beverages, and SPINS says it sees growth in bars and dairy-free desserts, too.
In addition to individual ingredient predictions, SPINS pegs some upcoming formulating trends.
Related to the new nutrition facts added-sugar label, SPINS predicts 2017 growth in “low sugar,” “no added sugar,” “reduced sugar,” and “sugar free” product claims. Concurrently, SPINS expects to see growth in zero-calorie sweeteners like monk fruit. “Manufacturers may mix monk fruit into blends with other low- or no-calorie natural sweeteners like erythritol, stevia, and xylitol; others may combine it with caloric natural sweeteners like agave, cane, and coconut palm sugar to keep overall sugar content down while more closely preserving signature flavor profiles,” SPINS says.
SPINS also predicts significant expansion of plant-based ingredients in a wide variety of foods, including snacks like vegetable-based “meat” jerkies as more consumers switch to flexitarian diets. “We’re intrigued by innovative products like FunGuy’s mushroom jerkies and Power Plant’s organic sriracha eggplant jerky, and we’re keeping an eye out for coconut versions to come,” SPINS says. (Also read our story, "Are Meat-Free Ingredients Good Enough to Win over Flexitarians?")
SPINS also predicts formulators will bring new ingredients to beauty products and beverages. Take beverages. In general, the market researcher expects drink makers to continue introducing newer flavors, including botanicals, florals, fruits, and hops. (SPINS expects sodas to be the next craft-beverage trend, following the direction that beer and coffee are headed in.) Regarding beauty products, SPINS focuses specifically on face masks, where it says food ingredients like wine are crossing over as well as specialty ingredients like turmeric and charcoal.
Other macro trends SPINS pegs are the microbiome. “In the marketplace, growing consumer interest in a whole-systems approach to health and wellness continues to drive awareness around the microbiome, as well, spurring demand for probiotic products wherever consumers can find them,” SPINS says. “We think we’ll see the probiotic trend grow across grocery aisles all around the store in 2017 with applications in plenty of surprising segments.”
There’s also continued interest in do-it-yourself products, which will result in increased demand for “kits” to make beer, cheese, kefir, kombucha, and yogurt, SPINS says.
And, finally, SPINS says, the natural products industry will continue to seek more sustainable methods of production and sustainable ingredients. “With environmental ethics at the core, we look forward to groundbreaking, impactful improvements to supply chains as mindful methods of consumption and production are a top priority for shoppers and manufacturers alike in 2017, with the delicious, nourishing results the natural products industry is known to deliver.”