Donna Ritson, president, DDR Communications
Donna Ritson, president of DDR Communications, said demand for clean label is driving innovation in healthy products.

RESTON, VA — In its 2017 “Trends in Food Processing Report,” PMMI recently released the most critical processing issues facing food and beverage manufacturers today.

“It was a very exciting report to do looking at the consumer standpoint,” said Donna Ritson, president, DDR Communications, the Chicago-based research firm that conducted the report. “Healthier eating is on the rise — sugar and sodium are coming out of our products. We’re putting in better, more fortified ingredients.”

Consumer demand for clean label products is what’s driving the innovation behind these types of healthier products, she noted.

TreeHouse Foods consumer
Consumer demand for portable foods and snacks is driving processing innovation.

Increasing stock-keeping units are driving automation advancements.

“It’s new flavors, it’s new ingredients, it’s new foods,” Ms. Ritson said, pointing to an uptick in demand for new and more complex flavor combinations.

Other demands driving processing innovation include portable foods to eat on the go that play to the ever-growing trend toward snacking and smaller meals. Packaging comes into play, as well, with a heavier emphasis being placed on sustainable packaging and materials that can extend shelf life with technology such as modified atmosphere packaging.

Looking ahead, Ms. Ritson identified that the need for automation in food manufacturing plants will only increase over the next three to five years.

ProFood Tech
ProFood Tech is a new conference and tradeshow for the food and beverage processing industries.

PMMI is a partner for ProFood Tech, a new conference and tradeshow for the food and beverage processing industries, taking place April 4-6 at McCormick Place in Chicago. ProFood Tech opened its doors to 440 exhibitors in 140,000 square feet with 4,000 registered attendees and a projected 6,000 by the show’s end on April 6.

For more on the report and ProFood Tech, visit