Portion control has fallen off radar in the US, says Mintel

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Portion size information helps consumers control their food intake but is seen less frequently on packaging in the US, according to Mintel.

Portion control was one of the hot topics debated by the research company during the Institute of Food Technologists’ expo in New Orleans, 11-14 June 2011.

Mintel hosted a New Products and Consumer Insights Pavilion at the event to showcase the latest trends in the food, drink and foodservice industries.

During each session, Mintel’s new product experts, Lynn Dornblaser and David Jago, presented on the topics of portion size, functional foods and the 2011 flavour and ingredient predictions.

According to Mintel, the nutrition guideline people don’t talk about is portion size.

“As companies respond to the new US nutrition guidelines, it appears the most important issue is largely ignored by CPG companies — portion size,” said Dornblaser. “100-calorie packs helped the US consumer think about easy ways to control consumption, but today the packages are less focused on just 100 calories and more focused on providing additional benefits.”

The functional foods market is stagnating, reported Mintel. It found 56% of US consumers have bought a functional food or beverage in the last three months but growth has slowed.

Dornblaser and Jago also provided updates on the current state of seven of the 12 flavour and ingredient trends in North America it predicted for 2011.

Attendees at the Mintel presentations and tastings were also asked to vote on their favorite products from the topics under scrutiny.

The results from more than 600 participants are:

  • Sensible Portions Veggie Snacks Variety Pack from Canada took first place in the portion size category. This product is said to offer on-the-go convenience and contains no artificial flavors, colours or preservatives. Emerald Nut and Granola Mix from the US and Krave Chocolate Hazelnut Cereal from Ireland took second and third place, respectively.
  • IFT attendees chose the Special K Protein Shake from the US as their favourite product to help stay fuller for longer. Nestle Plus Antioxidants Cereal from Belgium came in second place, followed by Special K Savory Herb Crackers from the US.
  • Stonewall Kitchen Roasted Peach Whiskey Sauce (US) came in first place and aligns with Mintel’s dark spirits flavour and ingredient trend prediction. It was a tight race for second and third place, with a difference of only six votes. International Delight Almond Joy Creamer, demonstrating the coconut flavour trend, nabbed second place while SunGold Foods Sunflower Seed Spread, an example of the seed ingredient trend, came in third. Both products are from the US.