Healthy, sustainable and natural: these are the trends for the food and beverage industry in 2021
More than ever before, the past few months have brought about an increased level of environmental and health consciousness amongst consumers. Plant-based products, produced and processed in a sustainable manner, as well as those with health-promoting benefits, are the main focus here. This development has been in the works for years and has only been accelerated through the events of the past year. Consumers are more at home and take time for their meals. If fruit bars were particularly popular in the past as snacks on the go, we are currently experiencing a significant increase in the consumption of breakfast cereals, for example. Beverages which people would otherwise consume in bars have now become a staple at home (in smaller packaging sizes), while ready-to-drink products are in demand. Consumers are researching more and are also increasingly purchasing their food and beverages online. What trends can be expected with regard to the food and beverage industry in 2021 – both in stationary retail shops and online – and how can manufacturers successfully meet the changing market requirements?
Health – the next generation of pioneering products
60% of consumers worldwide proactively look for products which improve their health.1 Many consumers are aware that a healthy diet is vital for their general well-being, as well as for preventing illnesses. As such, the demand for products which contribute to a healthy diet has been increasing for years. Alongside foods and beverages with balanced nutritional values in terms of macro-nutrients such as sugars, fats or proteins, consumers are also increasingly looking for products which boost certain bodily functions or provide health benefits, such as the immune system, intestinal health, or the body’s energy resources.
In light of the current situation surrounding COVID-19, boosting the immune system has become more important than ever. In order to contribute to the development of market-oriented and functional products, Döhler combines the latest findings from nutritional science, regulatory aspects and consumer findings with current trends involving health, naturalness, plant-based nutrition and sustainability.
Natural, plant-based ingredients, such as tea infusions, botanical extracts, Optifine Powders, cereals, nuts and pulses, juices and purées, functional fruit powders and vitamins & mineral mixtures, can be used in a wide range of applications. These ingredients are used to create healthy and refreshing smoothies, energising teas, delicious and creamy dairy substitutes or functional powders as nutritional supplements – Döhler’s comprehensive portfolio of functional ingredients allows a multitude of positionings for products with healthy added value.
“Superfruits”, such as baobab, elderberry and co., are perceived to have health-promoting properties and are used in a wide variety of foods and beverages, primarily due to their inherently high content of secondary plant substances and vitamins. The acerola cherry is another superfruit and a true vitamin C blast, with 100 g of the fruit containing an average of 1,700 mg of natural vitamin C, making it the fruit with the highest vitamin C content in the world. When adhering to specific dosages, this completely natural trend ingredient allows you to make claims in line with the Health Claims Regulation.
Possible applications include using acerola cherries as a nutritional supplement, for example in tablets or powders. The superfruit can also provide an added value in other products such as protein shakes as well as in confectionery or cereal bars. Over the last two years, the number of new products containing acerola launched in the food sector has risen by 23%.2
Probiotics also contain numerous health-promoting properties, including the maintenance and restoration of a healthy intestinal flora. This in turn has a positive effect on the human immune system. Döhler offers probiotics in form of probiotic fruit granulates. These crunchy and colourful ingredients impress with their authentic fruit taste, while containing living probiotic cultures. The granulates can easily be processed in numerous foods, such as muesli, yoghurt or cereal bars, without requiring the powder to be dissolved. Alongside the health aspects, consumers are primarily focussing on plant-based and sustainable foods and beverages – three aspects which are closely linked to each other and for which Döhler has the fitting products and concepts.
Plant-based – healthy, delicious, sustainable
The market share for plant-based products has recently displayed double-digit growth, while forecasts project further growth of up to 14% in this product category until 2024.3 A growing number of people have turned to vegetarian diets, or are avoiding animal ingredients completely. As part of a modern and healthy lifestyle, consumers are also adapting their nutrition to ensure it is sustainable. Döhler has a pioneering portfolio of sustainably produced raw materials, certified by Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ, as well SAI/FSA, among others. The close collaboration with local farmers when it comes to procurement of raw materials is equally as important to Döhler as is the development and establishment of sustainable and fair cultivation conditions for the local workers.
With the global population forecast to grow to 10 billion by the year 2050, plant-based food and beverages are the sustainable sources of nutrition from which both humans and the planet can benefit. Consumption of these products is not only sustainable and generates less CO2 which can harm the climate, but the cultivation areas can be used more effectively and provide greater yield than fields used for animal grazing areas.
Although many consumers are interested in plant-based foods and state that sustainable nutrition is important to them, the majority of them prefer plant-based products which correspond as closely as possible to the known categories of desserts and cheese from a sensory standpoint, while providing added functional value. The demands on foods and beverages are becoming ever more complex, as alongside sustainable procurement and processing, health promotion and support, the products should also generate an excellent taste sensation.
Döhler has developed a wide range of concepts based on almond, nut, seed, cashew or coconut, which are used to supply fats and to create a creamy mouthfeel. These products are particularly well-suited for use in desserts and chocolate, as well as dairy-free products. In addition, the selection also comprises cereals, such as oats, rice and malt. Along with their authentic taste, they create a natural sweetness and healthy nutritional profiles, and are therefore ideal components for current trends such as reduced sugar and clean labels.
Döhler also has alcohol-stable and dairy-free coconut, almond and soy ingredients to create creamy and indulgent plant-based alternatives to cream liqueurs and cocktails. The combination of plant-based ingredients with traditional flavours, such as chocolate and coffee, or with exotic fruit flavours and juices, allows a wide range of different product variants and positioning options which can be tailored to meet the taste demands of the respective target group.
Plant-based proteins from chickpeas, beans or peas replace animal proteins and are therefore added as protein sources. They also provide a pleasant mouthfeel, a creamy texture and an optimum nutrient composition. Protein enrichment is one of the most important claims during the development of plant-based alternative products. Plant-based dairy alternatives in particular are in greater demand than ever. However, compared to animal milk, they contain fewer proteins, vitamins and minerals. Enrichment with high-quality plant-based protein mixtures is an advantage of these alternative products. The comprehensive portfolio of plant-based proteins by Döhler, produced at the company’s own production sites, impresses with its excellent quality, as well as the option of creating custom solutions for every customer requirement. The wide spectrum comprises plant-based protein mixtures and solutions with optimised nutritional values and improved taste profiles. The solutions contain a natural starch content for a high natural functionality. In addition, they are characterised by excellent sensory properties (no bitterness / no astringency) thanks to Döhler`s flavour technology and the unique production process. As such, we have a large selection of functional and health-promoting ingredients which form the optimal basis for the development of innovative, plant-based foods and beverages.
Labelling – greater packaging transparency
Although a large number of consumers focus on purchasing sustainable foods and beverages, 60% state that it is difficult to determine whether a product is actually sustainable based solely on the packaging or label.4 This factor makes it particularly clear, just how important the transparent positioning of foods and beverages is. Clean labelling plays a significant role in this regard. The ingredients list on clean label products is reduced to the lowest possible amount, and the ingredients themselves should be processed as little as possible, while the natural source is to be made clear. Consumers can therefore make the conscious decision to select a product and its ingredients and source. Döhler also uses natural ingredients, such as fruit seeds, in the production of clean label products with healthy added value, while natural flavours from citrus and other fruits enable the creation of tasty foods and beverages with a transparent ingredients list.
One of the consumer labels developed to simplify product classification and increasingly being used today is the Nutri-Score. The label is already well established in some European countries, such as France and Belgium, while its use in Germany is voluntary since the end of 2020. As such, some large food producers and retail chains have decided to print the label on their packaging. The label consists of the letters A to E and a 5-step traffic light colour scale. A dark green A designates products with a good nutritional profile, while a red E is assigned to products that do not contribute as strongly to a healthy diet. The Nutri-Score is calculated from the energy content, as well as the content in terms of beneficial or less beneficial nutrients.
Döhler is supporting its customers in optimising their recipes and achieving a better Nutri-Score. The company provides various options for this, ranging from fruit and vegetable ingredients, which are suited for use in snacks or smoothies, up to innovative solutions which can help reduce sugar and calories in beverages. The focus is always on natural ingredients which provide the product with additional sensory benefits and are also increasingly viewed as “healthy” by consumers. As such, products optimised with regard to their Nutri-Score can still promise absolute indulgence and be successful on the market.
Multi-Sensory Experiences® – a delight for all the senses
Today’s consumers expect food and beverages to do more than simply taste good. Hear, see, taste, feel and smell – enjoyment with all the senses is the idea here. Only when the appearance, smell, taste, sound and mouthfeel are in harmony is the result a perfect multi-sensory experience. To create this, all ingredients must be selected carefully and used to develop a product that meets all these expectations.
The taste should be surprising and stand out from the mainstream. Consumers are also paying more attention on the source and naturalness of the ingredients, which is why botanical products are growing in popularity for example. Herbs, spices, blossoms and roots are key elements in creating exciting and authentic taste sensations, such as in herb, water plus or beer-mix beverages.
When it comes to authenticity, infusions, such as cold-extracted cocoa or cold-brew herbal teas are becoming ever more popular, as is their combination with fruits. Tea and hops or hemp are also great combinations and harbour great potential for the introduction of innovative beverage applications. Döhler has a comprehensive portfolio of natural taste solutions comprising natural flavours, essences, extracts, distillates and infusions which transform foods and beverages into authentic and unique taste sensations.
The colour of a food determines much more than just its appearance. It not only evokes associations, creates expectations and thus influences the purchasing decision – it even has an effect on how the taste is actually perceived! Colourful ideas are particularly suitable for implementation in baked goods, which are not just healthy, but also eye-catching. The appearance of food and whether it is a suitable subject for a social media post is of more relevance than ever. Food should not only taste good and be healthy, but also look the part. Red burger buns, green pizza dough or black bread are just a few examples of special visual highlights.
Black is a colour often associated with properties such as noble, festive, luxurious, courageous, strong, impressive or secretive. However, consumers associate these properties less with foods than with colours such as yellow, orange, red or shades of green. Despite this, there are certainly fruits and vegetables in this fascinating colour, such as black currants, blackberries, black lentils or eggplant. Black foods are becoming increasingly popular on the market, with black burger buns, black pizza or even black cheese found on supermarket shelves. With Black Diamond, Döhler has a natural black colour solution based on colouring foods which is ideal for use in confectionery and can be used in clean label applications.
White is also in great demand in food and beverage applications, as it provides confectionery applications, such as hard caramels or chewing gum with a vibrant and glossy appearance. Opacity, created by white colouring in originally transparent products or beverages, creates a natural and fresh appearance.
The perfect crunch
A unique crunch, attractive visual effects and a delicately creamy consistency: irresistible taste and unmistakeable texture belong together. Consumers are placing ever more value on naturalness, organic cultivation and ingredients that are still as natural as possible and have only undergone few and particularly gentle processing steps even for pure indulgence products such as snacks, cereals or chocolate. And what is better suited here than pure fruit? Fruit combines naturalness, indulgence and health in perfect harmony. Freeze-dried, or in slices, small pieces, as powders, or whole fruits, they not only provide great enjoyment in the taste department, but are also visual highlights. Thanks to extremely gentle freeze drying, shape and colour of the raw materials are optimally retained.
Honey-based granulates or those based on 100% fruit are used to create a natural character and authentic taste. Whether delicate, fruity or crunchy, the natural ingredients give snacks, snack products and chocolate products an unmistakeable crunch and unforgettable taste sensation. Granulates with the taste profiles coffee, caramel, yoghurt or cocoa-malt are currently particularly popular and provide a wide range of applications with intense flavours and authentic colours.
“Coated inclusions” are also characterised by their long-lasting crunch. Coated with a layer of cocoa butter, the granules retain their unique natural colour and intensive flavour. They are either used inside the product or as decoration on it, thereby creating a visual highlight and unique Multi-Sensory Experiences®.
Döhler has a comprehensive portfolio of dry ingredients made exclusively from natural raw materials which can be used to create unique products from the best nature has to offer and which meet consumer desires for greater naturalness.
Healthy bonus – natural and reduced sugar
The general trend towards a healthy lifestyle has been further solidified due to the coronavirus pandemic. Alongside health-promoting products, solutions which impress thanks to naturalness and reduced sugar content are also in demand. Natural and sustainable foods and beverages with less sugar and clean label positioning are particularly popular, while still ensuring full enjoyment!
Döhler has a comprehensive portfolio of sweetening solutions for reduced sugar products in the food and beverage industry for every customer request. HIS, natural flavours or natural infusions and extracts create excellent taste profiles.
Refreshing lemonades, light fruit splashes and many other exciting food and beverage concepts, either with reduced sugar content or sugar-free, are currently booming on the market and are taking over supermarket shelves. Even alcoholic beverages with reduced sugar, such as Hard Sparkling Seltzer, are also popular amongst consumers. With around 100 kcal per can, the trendy drink is enjoying market success and offers incomparable taste and excellent mouthfeel thanks to the MultiSense® Flavours. The company’s portfolio contains only natural flavours for a refreshing and authentic fruity taste profile.
To add a dash of healthiness to baked goods, products can be refined with proteins, fibres and vegetables to give them that extra portion naturalness. The natural ingredients from Döhler can also help consumers meet their recommended daily allowance of vegetables, thereby supporting a healthy lifestyle. The plant-based proteins, fibres and vegetable granulates or purées and seeds are easy to use, rendering the addition of fresh vegetables unnecessary. High degrees of standardisation mean the products are available in the same quality throughout the year, therefore providing maximum flexibility. The positive effects are manifold, with the optimised nutritional value and visual effects created by vegetable inclusions just two of these. Using these products can also help achieve an improved Nutri-Score compared to standard market products.
Alcohol-free – refreshing enjoyment at 0.0%
Naturalness, high-quality ingredients and extraordinary taste sensations: for the majority of consumers, these are the decisive criteria when it comes to purchasing food and beverages. And in 2020, consumers paid more attention than ever before when deciding on what to eat and drink and what is good for their bodies. Alongside reduced sugar and sugar-free products, consumers often take care to reduce their consumption of alcohol, or cut it out completely.
In particular beverages with a convincing “adult” taste profile, but without alcohol, are becoming more popular. Innovative concepts, such as brewed soda or crafted lemonades are just as popular as rum and whiskey without alcohol.
And non-alcoholic beer-mix drinks are also growing in popularity. The manufacturing process here means that the authentic beer taste and mouthfeel are often lost when producing non-alcoholic and 0.0% beers. Although flavours are able to close the gap to real alcoholic beers, this option means a clean label declaration is not possible. Döhler has developed an innovative extraction technology that enables a clean label declaration and 0.0% beer to be created with authentic taste for the first time. This option covers diverse consumer requirements at the same time.
With its comprehensive portfolio of natural ingredients and product solutions, Döhler is supporting a healthy, plant-based and sustainable future for our planet. In line with the company slogan “We bring ideas to life.”, and as a provider of complete ingredient systems and integrated solutions, Döhler therefore develops innovative and sustainable concepts with its customers – from the idea, to implementation, to the shelf.
1 Global Data, 2020
2 Quelle: GNPD 2020