What's in store for the New Year

by Lynn Petrak
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Non-GMO label
Technomic projects that consumers will remain negative on G.M.O.s.

It’s that time of year again: out with the old, in with the new. As 2016 approaches, prognosticators are coming out with their lists of food trends for the coming year, which reflect and portent changes in the way people eat, including their perception and consumption of snacks and bakery products.

If recently published lists are any indication, it seems health and wellness will continue to impact these categories. For example, in its annual assessment of the upcoming year’s top 10 food trends, the Chicago-based market research firm Technomic projects that consumers will remain negative on G.M.O.s, noting that “Whatever the science says, many consumers have made up their minds: no genetic tinkering with their food.”

Likewise, the Specialty Food Association, New York, predicts a continued focus on better-for-you foods.

“Health and convenience come across loud and clear in 2016’s trend forecast,” said Denise Purcell, head of content for the S.F.A.’s daily newsletter. “Consumers gravitate toward simpler foods and beverages, often sustainable and local, and they respond to products and new store formats that make their lives easier.”

As for snacks, better-for-you snacks are increasingly viewed as meal replacements by single diners and on-the-go parents and their kids, according to the S.F.A. report.

Meanwhile, self-proclaimed “supermarket guru” Phil Lempert recently released his list of food trends for 2016, which include the move toward a new way of eating. Pointing out that consumers are getting more of their nutrition information from the Internet, he said that algae, nuts, vegetables and yeast will be used to add more nutrient value to protein-based products and that more free-from items will hit the marketplace.

Ruby Rocket's yogurt tubes
Ruby Rockets’ recently launched snack “tubes,” a line of dairy-, gluten- and G.M.O.-free blends made with vegetables, fruits and plant-based protein and packaged in convenient tubes with a 90-day shelf life.

Some of those trends are already evident with snacks made from perceived better-for-you ingredients, like kale chips from brands such as Rhythm Superfoods, sold in flexible bags, and hemp seeds and chia seeds from brands such as Navitas Naturals, sold in stand-up, recloseable pouches, among others. Packaging formats from some of these healthy items are innovative, too, like Ruby Rockets’ recently launched snack “tubes,” a line of dairy-, gluten- and G.M.O.-free blends made with vegetables, fruits and plant-based protein and packaged in convenient tubes with a 90-day shelf life.

Finally, supporting S.F.A.’s prediction of less food waste generated by manufacturers, some new products reflect steady interest in both health and sustainability. One case in point is the Ocean’s Halo line of seaweed snacks from San Francisco-based Frontier Foods, Inc., available in consumable sheets and packaged in a 100% compostable tray and box.

“Ocean's Halo's compostable packaging sets it apart from any other product in the category. We invest heavily in ensuring that all of our products are in compostable and recyclable packaging,” remarks co-founder Mike Shim, adding that market research conducted for the company underscored the importance of sustainability to its consumers.

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