As 2023 matures, the year in food and beverage innovation is set to be defined by a few key themes. These could be the difference between a new launch succeeding or not in a landscape where consumers are faced with near limitless choices.
ofi’s global team of innovation and culinary professionals share their insights on where the pendulum is swinging this year. Crucially, having the right ingredients and know-how can create a recipe for success.
As high inflation continues, value is of ever more importance to consumers. However, its meaning changes from person to person, with some trading down to reduce spending and others elevating to reduce frequency of purchase. For example, convenient options can help add a touch of luxury for consumers replacing expensive takeout with at-home cooking.
Consumers are also seeking out small affordable treats like indulgent chocolate to help alleviate some of the stress. 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 luxury possibilities, including organic options. Pair with ofi’s range of nut protein powders for delicious plant-based chocolate that can offer good hardness, snap, taste and melting properties. The company’s nut ingredients can also be used to deliver an new sensory experience beyond milk chocolate lookalikes; consider walnut-based chocolate for example.
Beyond cost savings, private label offerings are being recognised as high-quality and desirable in their own right. Most APAC, EU and US shoppers (60%) believe private label products are as good as national brands when it comes to quality, innovation, sustainability and delivering on claims. In tandem, retailers are looking at multiple large-scale brands and tailoring 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 that its customers need to thrive.
This year, consumers are turning toward food and drink purchases as pick-me-up experiences, seeking out rich flavours 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. Capitalise on this with ingredients like ofi’s Moonlight extra white cocoa butter, which enables stark visual contrast in everything from white chocolate to delicious fillings, making it suited for close-ups.
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 the way a consumer feels when they are eating. One way to do this is by adding sensory inclusions. 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 to be popular.
ofi’s professionals can help customers make the most of their ingredients portfolio to discover novel ways to create appealing products.
Spice and heat
Whiel Hot & Spicy become an increasingly popular flavour profile in recent years, it will not be sufficient for 2023. 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 and 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 the comfort of home. ofi’s chefs have developed a range of blends to meet consumer preferences around the globe. For example, regional Indian blends like Nihari from New Delhi and the north or Rogan Josh from Jammu and Kashmir are a great choice for EMENA audiences.
Meanwhile, US consumers can enjoy spice blends inspired by the American Southwest, Mexico and the Caribbean. It might be tempting to dial up the heat to extreme levels, but most US consumers prefer moderation.
While more intense heat brings novelty, a more restrained level that offers a particular flavour 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 flavours typically seen in sauce form, which can be used as coatings or on snacks. Meanwhile, the company’s spice blends are a great match for meat and meat substitutes.
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. This interest is also reflected in Europe, where 58% will expect it to increase.
Curiosity is a large driver for consumers trying plant-based products, with our 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 flavour, texture and functionality for innovative plant-based alternatives such as a barista nut milk.
As the plant-based trend matures, alternatives can stand out by addressing additional food trends like clean label or on trend flavours. For example, meat alternatives have made many advancements in achieving comparable taste and texture to meat over the past few years, but consumer demand for simple, recognisable ingredients in their foods is driving some manufacturers to make adjustments. Here, 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.
Another area of opportunity for alternatives is “familiar with a twist” options. One example is taking a plant-based chicken nugget and creating a Nashville Hot version.
Dietary requirements such as gluten or lactose intolerance are another aspect of the Alterna-world trend. Nuts can help out here – for example, ofi’s minimally processed almond and cashew flours can give a great texture to baked goods and pastries.
Sustainability gets specific
It’s time to get to the root of your ingredients – 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. Manufacturers can also partner with suppliers and growers to support environmental causes.
ofi’s sustainability initiatives in the cashew, cocoa, coffee, hazelnut and almond supply chains are one way we’re 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 has been ofi’s declared 2030 sustainability targets across the cashew supply chain from farm to factory. These are in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and include an ambitious goal to fight poverty and create economic opportunity by improving the livelihoods of people living in cashew communities and growing farmer yields.