Top 10: Food trends for 2014

Natural highs, flavour fusions and mini meals trends to watch out for
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Crossover flavours are finding a place in the F&B market.
Crossover flavours are finding a place in the F&B market.
Going local and organic is a trend.
Going local and organic is a trend.

Running from November 17-19, 2013, at the Dubai World Trade Centre, The Speciality Food Festival, Seafex, and Sweets and Snacks Middle East showcased top ten trends forecast to shape the F&B market in 2014.

1. It’s all about the packaging

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With the world’s F&B manufacturers adopting more sustainable practices, the recent invention of edible packaging by Dave Edwards, inventor and founder of Wikifood, is set to transform the food industry. Edible frozen yoghurt and ice cream encased in flavoured edible skins and sold in biodegradable cellophane bags launched earlier this month in the US and is likely to find its way to the warmer Middle East markets in the near future. The ice cream, Wikipearls, consists of small round balls served in flavoured packaging made from natural food particles and nutritive ions. “We package food and beverage like nature packages fruit: with an edible skin around the product,” said Edwards.

2. Aquaculture

Aquaculture is one of the fastest growing food production sectors and accounts for nearly half of the supply of fish for consumption around the world. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that total fish production from aquaculture reached more than 63 million tonnes in 2011, in comparison to 47 million tonnes in 2006. World aquaculture is concentrated in Asia, where approximately 90% of global production takes place. China has emerged as the world’s leading producer in aquaculture, followed by India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Thailand. Seafex will address the critical issues the global aquaculture industry faces with the launch of the Seafex Seafood Summit this year.

3. Sustainable, local and organic

At a time when consumers are increasingly wary of food production techniques and methods, organic, local and free-range are seen as beacons of trust. The sale of organic foods and beverages in the Middle East is growing substantially, while the UAE is seen as a hub for farmers markets, organic cafés and supermarkets in the region. To meet the demand to supply sustainable products in the region, The Speciality Food Festival, Seafex, and Sweets and Snacks Middle East, and have confirmed participation from a range of exhibitors including Glenarm Organic Salmon, the only Atlantic salmon producer in the Irish Sea, and Natureland, the Kuwaiti-based supplier of organic certified products like fruits, vegetables, oils, rice, grains and seeds.

4. Natural highs

Natural energy/relaxant drinks and snack bars are increasingly gaining favour among the mass market. Previously only found in health shops, these natural, caffeine-free products — delivering energy or relaxation, together with protein, vitamins and beneficial ingredients in highly convenient formats — are making their way into supermarkets across the region. Japanese Matcha Tea from UAE exhibitor Artteas will be one such product on display this year at The Speciality Food Festival. Traditionally used by Zen Buddhist monks to remain alert and calm during long hours of meditation, matcha is a fine powder green tea, known for its many health benefits and nutritional properties.

5. Flavour Fusions

With sophisticated palates around the world increasingly looking for new taste sensations, manufacturers are growing a market that offers flavour crossovers such as chilli and chocolate, sea salt with caramel, strawberries with fava beans, and oyster and kiwi. This year’s food shows will include a range of exhibitors showcasing unexpected flavour combinations that taste terrific.

6. Seasonality

The popularity of restaurants such as Baker and Spice, and Table 9, which incorporate seasonal produce into their menus, and increased interest in foraged, local and seasonal produce is fuelling demand for seasonal and foraged produce. In 2014, expect to see manufacturers begin to incorporate foraged, hyper-local ingredients into accessible formats and recognisable products, with ingredients such as seaweed, truffle, rosehips, nettle, wild mushrooms and blackberries appearing in familiar products.

7. Flavour first

Health food products are undergoing a flavour makeover, from hummus chips to wild rice salads. Consumers are not solely concerned by the health benefit of the product alone, but also the taste. A large range of the latest in nutritious snacks will be on show this year including Tom and Sally's 100% Organic Skinny Bar, Cocoa with Green Tea, from UAE exhibitor Candelite.

8. Next Gen Protein

As interest in high protein diets continues to grow, consumers are seeking out natural protein in convenient products they recognise. From protein pasta to superfood quinoa and even egg white snacks, products that allow consumers to incorporate greater levels of protein in their diets using food they recognise will rise in popularity.

9. Mini meals

With consumers eating little and often to meet their busy schedules — ‘on-the-go’ meals that are nutritious, quick and easy are gaining in popularity. Convenient packaging, individual serving sizes and freshness are key to this trend’s success which includes hot food prepared on-site in the supermarket to refrigerated, manufactured produce. UAE-based company Gulf Seafood will launch its new snack food line including popcorn shrimp, fish and shrimp dim sum, shrimp samosa and spring rolls, and seafood sausage at Seafex 2013.

10. Going green

While meat is still a substantial part of the diet in the region, there is a growing body of scientific evidence that it is better for a person’s health — and of the planet — to reduce meat consumption. As a consequence the quantity and quality of meat alternatives on the market continues to improve, while there are also a number of firms exploring the benefits of plant-based proteins to replace dairy and egg ingredients.

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