Subtle reduction of sodium, sugar, HFCS to continue

by Staff
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CHICAGO — Subtle reductions of sodium, sugar and high-fructose corn syrup is one of the top trends that will impact manufacturers in 2011, according to Mintel International.

Companies have been working to reduce sodium without much fanfare for some time now, but manufacturers are now doing the same with sugar and HFCS, Mintel said. Increasingly, consumers are expecting products to not be a high source of these ingredients.

Mintel said other trends that will impact the consumer packaged goods market in the coming year include:

• Redefining natural. The number of natural claims has increased dramatically in recent years, but the term still hasn’t been defined well. Consumers should also expect to see a focus on what the positive attributes of a product are instead of emphasizing what isn’t in the product, Mintel said.

• Professionalization of the amateur. Mainstream brands increasingly are looking to bring home what used to be a specialist service. In the food market, this applies to chef-endorsed products and restaurant-style meals.

• Sustainability stays focused on the basics. There will be a greater focus on reduced packaging that promotes environmental responsibility in combination with uniqueness, and this can be seen in cereal bars without boxes or more cereals without an inner bag. Water usage also will be an issue of concern to consumers, Mintel noted.

• Blurring categories. In an effort to drive increased innovation manufacturers are introducing hybrid products. For example, sparkling beverages may be considered a source of refreshment and sophistication. In addition, there is a blurring of how consumers use products, such as beverages being consumed as snacks and snacks being consumed as meals.

• New retro. There will be an emphasis on updating old products with old ad campaigns to tap into feelings of nostalgia. The goal is to appeal to a time when life felt easier, according to Mintel.

“These annual predictions represent continuations of current big-picture trends rather than major changes in the marketplace and what companies are doing,” said Lynn Dornblaser, director of innovation and insight at Mintel. “Understanding the major trend areas and how they change from year to year is essential for companies to be successful when developing and launching new products.”

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