Sustainability, healthy lifestyle and natural functionality are the big trends on international 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 the Hydrosol Sales Network meeting in Hamburg, the international supplier of food stabilisers. Every two years, this specialist for stabilising and texturing systems invites its worldwide employees and sales partners to a Sales Network meeting. One of the goals is to present the current trends and expectations in the different markets, along with innovative product concepts to address them. According to this year’s attendees the plant-based trend continues to have extraordinary potential around the world.
Hydrosol CEO Dr Matthias Moser noted: “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. We recently bundled our expertise in research and development, marketing and sales in our new Plant-Based Competence Centre. 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. 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 consumers’ 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 filets, 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,” reported 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.”
Plant-based and free-from will remain major growth drivers at Hydrosol. In addition to the new products it presented, the company also offers preservatives and injection systems that make Hydrosol an all-round provider for meat and meat products, as well as stabilising systems for dairy products, deli foods and convenience foods. On this broad basis, in 2019 the company generated worldwide growth of 30%. With its trend-driven concepts, this year Hydrosol is working towards further 15% growth. The new Plant-Based Competence Centre will play a key role in this development.