Sustainability, healthy lifestyle and natural functionality are the big trends on international food markets this year. This was the conclusion drawn from a survey of around 150 attendees from more than 60 countries who recently came together at a Hydrosol GmbH & Co. sales network gathering in Hamburg, Germany.
The gathering took place prior to the severe clampdown on travel and social distancing policies that have now been implemented in Europe and much of the world in hope of containing the deadly Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. The outbreak that originated in China late last year has been attributed to the deaths of 7,135 people and 181,561 confirmed cases of infection as of March 16.
Every two years Ahrensburg, Germany-headquartered Hydrosol invites its worldwide employees and sales partners to the network event. One of the goals of the food stabilize and texturing systems specialist is to present current trends and expectations in different markets, along with addressing innovative product concepts. According to this year’s attendees, the plant-based food trend continues to have extraordinary potential around the world.
“We reacted to the growing demand for plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy products some years ago, and continue to develop solutions for this market segment,” commented Dr. Matthias Moser, chief executive officer of Hydrosol. “We recently bundled our expertise in research and development, marketing and sales in our new Plant-Based Competence Center. This lets us respond to the varied and at the same time very specific wishes of our customers much better and much more precisely.”
In presenting new developments and examples of successful products for plant-based alternatives to dairy, deli foods, and meat and sausage products, Hydrosol’s specialists underlined the importance of the “plant-based revolution,” as Innova Market Insights called it in this year’s Top Trends report. Hydrosol’s sister companies OlbrichtArom and SternVitamin contributed information about additional value creation potential through flavouring and through enrichment with selected micronutrients, respectively.
Free-from Promises Further Growth
In addition to plant-based alternatives, the large field of “free-from” products is another growth driver on the market. Whether free from lactose, gluten or soy, with less sugar, salt and fat, or free from animal ingredients, the free-from trend and the plant-based segment have turned into an important market for differentiated products. The primary motivation driving purchases of these clean and clear-label products is indulgence with a good conscience. Consumers want to treat themselves well, act sustainably, boost their own health, and preserve resources and the environment. Indulgence plays a decisive role in the success of food products, and simply removing certain ingredients from a recipe can quickly ruin a food’s appeal. Addressing the desire for indulgence takes deep food technology expertise and creativity in the use of the different ingredients.
“Consumers are more and more aware of certain ingredients. For example, phosphates are frequently criticised as being a risk for people with kidney disease,” said Dr. Moser. “At the event we presented to our sales network partners products in every category that don’t contain phosphates, yet meet accustomed consumer preferences. Sugar reduction is another important free-from topic – everywhere in the world there are foods people can’t resist, because they love the taste and texture. Sugar-reduced products need to offer the same indulgence if they are going to have sustained market success.”
Building on Growth with New Solutions
Plant-based meat and dairy alternatives have long since become fixtures in mass markets, and for many consumers they are established parts of a balanced diet. Plant-based alternatives to fish fillets, fish sticks and tuna fish salad are just a further step. Here again Hydrosol offers solutions.
“We recently added plant-based alternatives to breaded fish products and bread spreads like tuna deli foods,” said Dr. Moser. “Taste testing at the sales network meeting showed that these products definitely have what it takes, and most of the attendees would be willing to present the solutions to interested customers right away.”