Rising prices and environmental awareness significant to consumers in 2023, flags ofi
17 Apr 2023 --- As 2023 matures, F&B innovation is set to be defined by some significant themes. Ofi’s global team of culinary experts weigh in on the forecasted trends and they say that, crucially, having the right ingredients and know-how can create a recipe for success. Moreover, as inflation continues, value for money is crucial to consumers. However, the ingredient supplier notes that its meaning changes from person to person, with some trading down to reduce spending and others elevating to reduce purchase frequency.
For instance, convenient options can add a touch of luxury for consumers replacing expensive takeout with at-home cooking.
Consumers are also seeking small, affordable treats like indulgent chocolate to help alleviate daily stresses. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of global consumers have significantly increased their food and beverage spending post-lockdown.
Ofi’s deZaan premium cocoa brand can unlock possibilities, including organic options. It can be paired with a range of nut protein powders for plant-based chocolate that can offer good hardness, snap, taste and melting properties.
The company’s nut ingredients can also deliver a new sensory experience beyond milk chocolate look-alikes – consider walnut-based chocolate, for example.
Desirable offerings on the radar
Beyond cost savings, private label offerings are being recognized as high-quality and desirable in their own right.
According to ofi, most APAC, EU and US shoppers (60%) believe private label products are as good as national brands regarding quality, innovation, sustainability and delivering on claims. In tandem, retailers look at multiple large-scale brands and tailor their product offerings to make them their own.
With ofi’s portfolio of private label solutions, the company is well-placed to deliver the products, innovative category solutions and packaging options.
This year, consumers are considering F&B purchases as pick-me-up experiences, seeking rich flavors and textures.
One-off premium purchases like elevated condiments, beverages, or snacks can help spice up monotonous days.
Meanwhile, limited editions can create food experiences worthy of social media sharing.
Nostalgic dishes or ingredients with perceived mood-boosting properties also provide comfort. Consider a warming plant-based turmeric latte made with almonds and cashews, for example.
In 2023, companies will create experiential food and beverages, thinking about how consumers feel when they are eating.
One way to do this is by adding sensory inclusions, shares ofi. Dark chocolate with a rich dark color or extra-indulgent ice cream and milkshake creations combined with crunchy roasted almond or cashew pieces are proving popular.
Spicing things up
While “hot and spicy” has become an increasingly popular flavor profile in recent years, ofi believes 2023 is set to be different.
The company states that consumers are looking for more specificity, with particular varieties being called out.
In the US, for example, Pickled Jalapeño is seeing 42.9% on menus. Hatch Chile has grown 30.6% in foodservice, and 418% in new retail product launches over the past four years.
Regional spice profiles can also let consumers travel with their taste buds from home. For example, regional Indian blends like Nihari from New Delhi and the north or Rogan Josh from Jammu and Kashmir are also appealing choices for EMENA audiences, notes ofi.
Meanwhile, US consumers can enjoy spice blends inspired by the American Southwest, Mexico and the Caribbean.
While more intense heat brings novelty, a more restrained level that offers a particular flavor can spur repeat purchases. Food and beverage brands can also add heat in unexpected applications for interesting twists.
In addition to offering a broad selection of individual spices, dried chilis, dried onions and dried garlic, ofi can create seasoning blends of flavors typically seen in sauce form, which can be used as coatings or on snacks.
Alt-proteins won’t slow down
This year is bringing a new wave of plant-based foods and beverages, with ofi’s research finding that 63% of US shoppers expect to use more plant-based products over the next two years.
The company asserts that this interest is also reflected in Europe, where 58% expect it to increase.
Curiosity is a significant driver for consumers trying plant-based products, with ofi’s EMENA research uncovering that 65% of consumers buy plant-based dairy alternatives as an opportunity to try something new.
Ofi’s nut ingredients can contribute to achieving the right flavor, texture and functionality for innovative plant-based alternatives such as a barista nut milk.
A maturing sector
As the plant-based trend evolves, alternatives can stand out by addressing additional food trends like clean label or on-trend flavors.
For example, meat alternatives have made many advancements in achieving comparable taste and texture to meat over the past few years. Still, consumer demand for simple, recognizable ingredients in their foods drives some manufacturers to adjust.
Here, ofi believes spices and herbs can help mask off notes in soy or pea-based meat alternatives, with a pantry staple like black pepper being especially helpful in counteracting bitterness.
Sustainability gets specific
Consumers are looking for demonstrable sustainable farming and regenerative practices.
This means companies should be digging into production metrics like water consumption, agricultural inputs and diversion of waste streams.
Ofi’s sustainability initiatives in the cashew, cocoa, coffee, hazelnut and almond supply chains are one way it is working toward our purpose: to source, grow and produce ingredients that are good for consumers, farmers and the world around us.
For example, Cashew Trail is ofi’s declared 2030 sustainability targets across the cashew supply chain from farm to factory.
These align with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and include an ambitious goal to fight poverty and create economic opportunity by improving people’s livelihoods in cashew communities and growing farmer yields.
Edited by Elizabeth Green
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