At my food and beverage design and development firm Mattson, our unique vantage point is the nature of our business: developing concepts and formulating products across many channels within the food world, including food-away-from-home, consumer packaged goods, ingredients, and others.
We believe it’s important to scan the horizon for the next hot superfood or ingredient. However, our ability to future-proof product innovation is more impacted by macro trends that will fundamentally impact how we engage with food.
We gain insight into future trends by virtue of the fact that our work today will hit the market in the next 12-24 months. We are, literally, developing the future. We also engage regularly with consumers, during the testing of foods, food behaviors, and new food ideas. Our clients range from individual entrepreneurs to the largest food companies in the world. As a result, we’re entrenched in how food innovation trends will impact both.
Here are the macro trends that intrigue and inspire us in the year to come.
1. PERFECTLY IMPERFECT PACKAGED FOODS
Our entrepreneurial clients tend to be the most bleeding-edge. This is where we’re starting to get pushback on traditional food formulation approaches. While we may think we’ve reached sensory perfection on the prototypes we’re developing, some clients want their products to be less than perfect.
We know how to solve unpleasant textures and bitter “off” flavors. However, our Millennial clients are not dissatisfied with these so-called faults; in fact, they view them as badges of authenticity.
As a result, we are now developing gritty almond milk beverages that separate after 20 minutes of stillness, when we know full well how to make creamy, smooth drinks that stay in suspension. We’re rethinking how to formulate queso dips. Our clients are okay with dull, lumpy visuals, when in the past we have created cheese sauces with silken shine.