The influence of Innova Market Insights Top Ten Trends for 2020 is clearly apparent in the dairy category, which is facing key challenges in remaining viable amid changing consumer tastes. This is particularly apparent because of the, strong growth in interest in plant-based alternatives.
While the challenges presented by the market researcher’s ‘The Plant Based Revolution’ trend are clear, the dairy industry is responding with innovations focusing on other 2020 top trends, including ‘The Right Bite’, ‘Macronutrient Makeover’, ‘Tapping into Texture’ and ‘Hello Hybrids’, further developing its emphasis on health and pleasure.
‘The Right Bite’ describes the quest of busy consumers to maintain healthy lifestyles, both physically and mentally, raising the demand for nutritious foods that are easy to prepare, convenient and portable. Indulgent, treats also play a role in relaxation and enjoyment.
At the same time ‘Macronutrient Makeover’ highlights attention being paid to changing perceptions of macronutrient content and balance, not only in dairy, but in food and drinks as a whole.
Typically one macronutrient at a time is the focus of consumer concern, with low-/no-sugar currently leading from low fat and low calorie as the claim most influencing purchasing decisions in a 2019 Innova Consumer Survey (UK, the US, Spain, France, Brazil, Germany, Mexico and China). As a result, the search for natural sugar reducing solutions goes on in dairy, with the use of cultures and enzymes, which also have clean label benefits, being an area of particular interest.
The ‘Tapping into Texture’ trend focuses on consumers’ increasing recognition of the influence of texture on dairy, allowing a heightened sensory experience and often a greater feeling of indulgence. According to Innova Market Insights research, an average 45% of US and UK consumers are influenced by texture when buying food and drinks, while 68% share the opinion that textures contribute to a more interesting food and beverage experience.
Terms such as ‘thick & creamy’, ‘smooth’, ‘crispy’ and ‘crunchy’ are increasingly in evidence in products as varied as milk drinks, yogurt and cheese. Products such as milk and milk drinks, for example, are being given added indulgence through texture and mouthfeel claims, which were previously not in widespread use in the subcategory.
The ‘Hello Hybrids’ trend recognises the growing interest in products that combine two different features. Increasingly adventurous consumers tend to be highly receptive to hybrid concepts, with interest in blending ingredients, combining food types and mixing flavour profiles. According to Innova Market Insights research, seven in 10 US and one in two UK consumers like products that mix flavours, such as sweet and salty.
Hybrid concepts in dairy are taking a variety of formats, including category fusion, such as ice cream flavoured yogurts; mixed taste profiles, such as drinks with sweet and savoury flavour blends; and blended ingredients, such as dairy and non-dairy milk combinations, featuring options such as oat and almond.