Meat-free and plant-based innovations tipped to be top food trends for 2020, says EHL Ingredients

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Meat-free and plant-based innovations, health, wellbeing and mindful eating, convenience, traceability and allergen awareness are tipped to be the top food trends for 2020, according to EHL Ingredients. 

Making meat-free more accessible 

Meat-free and plant-based foods are set to continue their popularity during 2020. Junk food in particular, such as pizzas, burgers, kebabs, grilled and fried foods, is becoming increasingly mainstream and widely available in meat-free formats within retail, restaurants, casual dining and fast food outlets, on pop up stalls and markets, as well as at food and music festivals. Consumers following a vegan lifestyle are driving this trend and campaigns such as Veganuary, as well as TV programmes and documentaries, certainly help increase awareness and interest. But year-round, there are consumers who follow a flexitarian diet and often choose to eat meat-free for health and environmental reasons. 

It’s important for retailers, food manufacturers and producers to develop new products that fit into taste trends – which can change during the course of the year. Roasted cauliflower was one of the hero vegan dishes of 2019, but we’re expecting ingredients like jackfruit, tempeh, seitan, and plant-based meat replacements to appear much more frequently on supermarket shelves and on restaurant menus. 

Tasneem Alonzo, joint managing director at EHL Ingredients, says: “Meat-free food is becoming more universally appealing with consumers experimenting and keen to try new ingredients and flavour combinations. Our herbs, spices, seasonings and blends can help create new plant-based and meat-free products and open up new opportunities for retailers, brands and manufacturers. Foods such as vegan paté or ‘faux-gras’, veggie black pudding, meat-free pies, pasties, sausages and plant-based burgers will be in demand during 2020 so it’s key to trial and test products before you launch them to market, to ensure they are hitting all the key notes in terms of flavour, texture, aroma, convenience and overall satisfaction.”

Eat healthily, naturally 

Wellbeing, self-care, natural and mindful eating are still important buzzwords in the food industry with new products launching to fit into these trends. Natural, and organic, herbs and spices form a key part of ‘self-care’ and mindful eating with ingredients such as turmeric, cinnamon and ginger praised for their health benefits on the mind and body. 

Tasneem says:‘There’s no need for healthy offerings to be boring or difficult to create as long as you have good quality ingredients and look to international foods for inspiration. Include healthy, natural ingredients such as seeds, pulses and nuts for added nutrients, protein, fibre and healthy fats to sweet and savoury baked goods, biscuits and crackers, flavoured snacks, and even salads. Invest in organic alternatives where possible for a premium positioning, and  to create a point of differentiation in the marketplace. 

Convenience 

Consumers are a busy bunch, yet still want quality foods whether they are on the go, dining at their desk, cooking at home or ordering takeaways. The evolution of food delivery apps means more dining outlets have to provide restaurant quality meals for home delivery.  For home cooking, meal kits, fresh and frozen ready meals, ingredient and food grocery boxes have really made their mark and fit into today’s busy lifestyles that crave convenience without compromise. 

Tasneem says: “Technology is enhancing people’s eating experiences and injecting new energy into at-home dining. Whether people prefer to order for home delivery, experiment with organic ingredients, try new world foods, or just spice up evening meals, offering consumers quality foods and ingredients, value for money and convenience is a winning combination.”

Allergen awareness and traceability 

Food safety and traceability is always of the utmost importance, but even more so when it comes to allergen ingredients. Many challenges can prevent themselves during the course of food production and handling, such as cross-contamination of ingredients, so it’s important to eliminate risks as much as possible. Being able to trace food ingredients and components back to their original source is key for all finished food products but has become increasingly important within allergen management. 

Tasneem says: “We take allergens very seriously, take strict precautions, and do our utmost to ensure there is no cross-contamination during our handling. We have overhauled our production lines to completely segregate ingredients containing allergens and non-allergen products and installed new machinery to reduce risks of cross-contamination of products. It means we can operate more efficiently and speed up production, offer a quicker turnaround, and deliver products to our customers in shorter lead times. It will also help retailers and food manufacturers protect consumers against potential allergic reactions.

In summary, modern Brits’ tastes are changing and people are looking for variety, new flavour combinations, convenience, healthy and alternative dishes and our herbs, spices, blends and ingredients allow retailers, brands, food manufacturers, and chefs to develop appealing finished products to suit 2020 palates and preferences.