Informed consumers driving product development trends

by Keith Nunes
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CHICAGO — Products high in fiber, a greater number of gluten-free items and simple labels are three trends Didion Milling, Cambria, Wis., one of the largest corn grinders in the United States, said are being influenced by a more knowledgeable consumer base.

“The influence of knowledgeable and informed shoppers is one of the top 10 trends of 2013,” said Katie Dogs, public relations manager for Didion Milling. “We notice a wide swath of the market asking for whole grains and high fiber foods, powered by concerns of growing obesity among children, inadequate baby boomer nutrition and the growth of type 2 diabetes.

“We see consumers getting more assertive about what they expect from the foods they buy. One element of this is that they want labels with ingredients they recognize, not lists of complex additives.”

Ms. Dogs added that many consumers are calling for increased transparency, sustainability, local sourcing and traceability in their foods, attributes that spur buying decisions across other consumer goods purchases.

Didon discussed the consumer insights during the Institute of Food Technologists annual meeting and food expo, held July 13-16 in Chicago. During the exposition, the company served its version of a corn dog, but substituted the wheat flour with corn meal and making it gluten-free.

“Restaurants around the country are seeing almost a three-fold growth in gluten-free menu items since 2009,” Ms. Dogs said. “This attribute of corn plus the consumer demand for labels with ingredients they recognize is giving corn more attention from consumers and food processors.”
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