Trends in the food industry are constantly changing as needs for consumers continue to change. New food products are being created to fit the need of the consumer. Food ingredients are constantly being discovered and developed to fit these needs. New ingredients are one way to alter products to consumer needs. Food ingredients improve food products and beverages by producing cheaper products for consumers, protecting the environment, and producing health benefits. Although current trends are expanding and growing, new trends and discoveries eventually change according to needs of consumers. Some of the trends occurring in the 21st century include natural and functional food, specialty flavors, artificial sweeteners, sustainability, clean label ingredients, and low sodium foods.
Natural and Functional
One trend on the rise is the need for natural and functional ingredients in food and beverages. Consumers have developed a want for food ingredients that are naturally occurring, as artificial ingredients are among a topic of health concern. One example of these natural and functional ingredients is cocoa extracts. Products produced using Cocoa flavanol extracts include CocoaVia by Mars, Cocoactiv by Naturex, and Acticoa by Stollwerck. Cocoa is a natural ingredient that can be used as a food additive. The top producers of cocoa with over two-thirds of the world market include the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, and Cameroon. Mars is a leader in the use of cocoa as a functional ingredient (CRB 2007). Scientists have now identified specific flavanols more prevalent in cocoa that are responsible for the range of health benefits, allowing for the improvement and expansion of beneficial cardiovascular products. Furthermore, these studies have found that it is not the cocoa but the flavanols in the cocoa that provide circulation benefits. Davison and others (2008) found that high-flavanol cocoa consumption was shown to improve endothelial function and may be useful for reducing cardiometabolic risk factors in this population. Fisher and others (2006) found similar results as flavanol-rich cocoa enhanced several measures of endothelial function to a greater degree among older than younger healthy subjects. Building off of nearly two decades of research, Mars, Incorporated scientists have perfected a process to reduce the cocoa bean’s exposure to high temperatures. Mars Botanical has conducted various studies on cocoa products produced by the Cocoapro® patented process. This process preserves the phytonutrient content of cocoa as normal cocoa processing destroys most flavanols. Mars products can now guarantee consistent levels of flavanols in their cocoa extracts (Mars Botanical 2010). Current products that contain cocoa extracts include beverages and dietary supplements. High heat processes often destroy the flavanols in the cocoa so incorporating these extracts into processed foods and ensuring high flavanol content to the consumer can difficult. For now, supplements and beverages are the leading products containing cocoa until processes for food products are perfected. Powdered beverages with health benefits are becoming popular among consumers who prefer health benefits with their beverages so incorporating cocoa extracts into these powdered beverages is among the top products with functional and natural food ingredients. Prices for cocoa have been rising as political unrest in Africa worsens. With 40 percent of West Africa producing cocoa beans, the current ban of cocoa exports from the Ivory Coast is raising a concern. Cocoa beans are still arriving from the Ivory Coast but manufactures may have to face higher prices and a shortage of cocoa beans in the near future (Rose 2011).
Another developing trend is the ongoing search for new flavors. Consumers often choose the product they are purchasing based on the flavors of...