The trend pundits align on what is driving food popularity...but what is driving the why?

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Many of us focused on innovation here at Harlan Foods spend a lot of time crunching data and doing all kinds of research and analysis.  However, often we must look beyond our findings to understand the 'why' behind the 'what'.

There are five reoccurring trends we are seeing solidifying in foods for 2022 and specifically in baked goods.  They are:

  1. Functional Products:  Products with enhanced ingredients which are designed to deliver beyond simple nutrition.  Immunity, probiotics, mental sharpness, digestive health are some enhanced product characteristics which are seeing growth in popularity.
  2. Improved Sustainability:  Ingredient sourcing to responsible packaging and even energy efficient supply chain scoring are more frequently on consumer's radar screens.
  3. Rich and Decadent Flavor Combinations:  Chive and onion doesn't cut it anymore.  Consumers are looking for interesting and exciting flavor combinations which are more exotic or at least more interesting.  However, it can't be as simple as chocolate and peanut butter, but it does need to work as well as chocolate and peanut butter.
  4. Regional Products Flavor Combinations: Lime citrus, red and sweet peppers from the Hatch Valley added into flakey biscuits are rapidly growing in popularity, served at both breakfast and dinner.
  5. Gold Standards Revisited:  Flour and gluten free pancake with dark chocolate chunks and local honey is a simple example growing in popularity

What's driving some of these trends?  Let's take a look and make some assessments.

  1. Post COVID hangover.  Just like post-New Year's, consumers are looking in the mirror and telling themselves that it is time to make a commitment to improve.  Some are serious and this is what is driving some of these trends.  Some want short cuts, and yes, this is driving some of the trends as well.
  2. Inflation.  With food prices climbing along with everything else, consumers are looking to economize and get more for their shrinking dollar.  Finding interesting products with interesting flavors may allow them to jazz up a home meal at a bargain price.  Affordable luxuries at home begin to outpace larger or more expensive luxuries such as a fancy dinner out.
  3. Boredom.  Consumers have begun to only taste freedom post COVID.  However, with inflation on the rise, the appetite for something different is more frequently going unfed.  If you can't travel to the Southwest, bring the Southwest to you.
  4. Fear.  Right now, the world we are living in is more than a bit uncertain.  Food is a comfort.  Preparing food at home is a safe, familiar, family activity which can be planned for and controlled in predictable ways.  Food and food-based activities are a much-needed salve for what many see as uncontrollable and unstable world.

There is plenty of research to substantiate these trends.  For food manufacturers and brands, understanding the 'why' helps to understand if the trend might be a blip or something with some longevity.  In this instance, we may see these trends continue to grow and mature, especially in frozen, bulk package, brown and serve and mid-priced items.

For our clients, we work to not just help innovate new products but deliver exceptional products tailored to fit  price points and delivery schedules. This in turn ensures that brands always have the proper shelf presence required to build loyalty.

Delivering on this every day is Harlan Foods's Signature Promise.

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Harlan Foods is a leader in the development and manufacture of innovative, high quality foods.  

Harlan proudly serves mass and specialty grocers, quick-serve and other types of specialty retailers across North America, as well as America's Military, Disaster Relief Services, Schools and Insitutions.