New tastes, ingredients, unexpected flavour combinations, and even smells can conjure up ideas for culinary innovation. Original dishes and products may be inspired by everything from centuries-old traditional dishes, to experimental food concepts borrowed from other disciplines such as chemistry. Even expanding global trade, which continues to introduce North Americans to a range of exotic ingredients such as goji, mangosteen, soursop and camu camu, is driving product developers to find new and exciting ways to introduce new food and beverage products.
Although the food industry, like many others, is facing a tougher economic climate in 2009, that doesn’t mean that inspired new products will have a tougher time gaining consumer acceptance. Historically, times of economic downturn have resulted in a push for greater originality and even more creative innovation. However, any new product development must be tempered with the reality that to be accepted by value-conscious consumers, today’s new products must more keenly meet their needs and demands. “People around the world are feeling insecure and are already looking to re-establish a sense of stability in their lives,” says Joan Holleran, director of Research for trendwatcher Mintel International. “In the coming year, it will be more important than ever for businesses to respond quickly and creatively to changing consumer needs and desires, as we all become more selective in how we spend our money.”
Accordingly, Mintel pinpoints key trends that businesses must remember when launching new products that will be relevant to consumers in 2009, trends that although applicable to all business sectors, are just as significant for food developers.
Besides the recognition that consumers are now in control when it comes to purchasing choices, Mintel notes that simple, authentic, convenient solutions are top of mind this year. At the same time, products that offer affordable indulgences and real entertainment – such as unique new ingredients – are also in demand by consumers looking for little yet premium-quality luxuries without an expensive commitment. Above all, building trust, in brands as well as in corporate identity, will become increasingly important in terms of capturing and keeping consumer interest, something that has to be considered when sourcing new product ingredients in the coming year.
With that in mind, this month’s Research Chefs in Canada introduces several new features designed to help inspire, create, and hopefully build a stronger relationship with your customers.