Newswise — CHICAGO—The editors at Food Technology magazine, published by the Institute of Food Technologists, announced their predictions on hot food trends for 2016. Here’s what they’re forecasting for next year.
Clean Labels Spread to Fine DiningThis year was marked by tons of major food companies, in addition to fast-food and fast-casual restaurants, announcing the “healthification” of their menus through the banning of artificial ingredients/additives. In 2016, we can expect to see this effect “trickle up” to fine dining/sit-down restaurants where consumers are going to demand more than “locally produced” or “made in house” to signify a holistic approach to health.—Kelly Hensel, Senior Digital Editor
The Intersection of Health and Convenience Foods and beverages that deliver on both health and convenience will proliferate and gain wider distribution as consumers look for easy ways to incorporate more good-for-you products into their lives. Think portion-controlled snacks and ready-to-eat salad kits complete with slightly exotic ingredients like hemp seeds and edamame. We’ll see more of these kinds of products on retail shelves as entrepreneurs continue to get creative and major food companies acquire or partner with innovative niche marketers.—Mary Ellen Kuhn, Executive Editor Less Is MoreFood manufacturers will have to continue to make food products that are less processed as consumers demand more transparency and foods that are closer to their natural state.—Toni Tarver, Senior Writer/Editor
Smartphone StapleJust like a knife and fork, your smartphone will become an indispensable utensil for eating and dining in 2016. It can order and purchase food, find grocery and restaurant deals, count calories, provide nutrition knowhow, suggest recipes, replace mom for cooking advice, share memorable culinary experiences, connect farmers with retailers and restaurants, and reduce food waste through redirecting surpluses to those in need.—Bob Swientek, Editor in Chief
The Packaging ConnectionFoodies have long been interested in the backstory behind the foods they choose, but recent technologies have made it more possible than ever to bring this kind of information to the everyday consumer. In 2016, this trend will continue to grow, with packaging innovations allowing consumers to interact with products both on the shelf and when they get them home. Packaging technologies will also make it easier than ever for consumers to reorder their favorite items at the touch of a button.—Melanie Zanoza Bartelme, Associate Editor
Cleaner Labels More than ever, consumers are pushing food manufacturers to use ingredients to produce products with so-called clean labels. Ingredient manufacturers have stepped up and now offer ingredients that are naturally derived, minimally processed, organic, and not genetically modified—all of which food manufacturers use to formulate clean label products.—Karen Nachay, Senior Editor
Morally Conscious FoodsIncreasing emphasis on conscious living will lead to a new category of foods—morally conscious foods. From farm to fork, these foods, their production methods, and the companies manufacturing them will align closely with consumers’ moral values. —Tara McHugh, Contributing Editor, Processing
Gourmet ConvenienceWith 48 million time-strapped Americans describing themselves as foodies, gourmet convenience will be among the new megatrends. —A. Elizabeth Sloan, Contributing Editor, Consumer Trends
Generational NutritionBaby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials will continue to play a role in popular nutritional trends as well as product labeling. Baby Boomers want to lead lives full of energy and strong mental focus. Generation Xers are concerned not only with their own health, but with the health of their children. Immune health will continue to be a trend as this generation understands the link between immunity and overall wellness. Millennials tend to be more focused on labels and natural foods, so being transparent—not only in terms of healthful ingredients but also in terms of how the foods and beverages are made—will be important. Information is key to all generations, so communicating science-based information in an understandable way will be critical in upholding the credibility of products focused on health and wellness.—Linda Ohr, Contributing Editor, Nutraceuticals
Focus on Food SafetyResearchers, food manufacturers, regulatory agencies, and suppliers will continue to focus attention on pathogens, developing new and improved methods of analysis, instruments, detection supplies, and specific applications. Efforts will also continue on improving traceability of ingredients and products and harmonizing standards internationally. Food companies will be very involved in meeting the requirements of the Food and Drug Administration's final regulations implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act.––Neil H. Mermelstein, Editor Emeritus
About IFTFounded in 1939, the Institute of Food Technologists is committed to advancing the science of food. Our non-profit scientific society—more than 17,000 members from more than 95 countries—brings together food scientists, technologists and related professionals from academia, government and industry. For more information, please visit ift.org.