It’s 2018, so let’s kick things off by reviewing consumer food trends. People constantly change the way they eat and snack. Whether it’s a fad diet or a major lifestyle change, the industry ebbs and flows with food popularity and new product developments. Get a better understanding of major food trends and what consumers are looking for in potential food products, so you can create the products they want and need.

Snacking trends

The savory snacks industry is expected to grow from $94.5 billion in 2015 to $138.2 billion by 2020. With this growth in the market, there’s opportunity in different preparation techniques. New preservation and preparation techniques mean new textures, flavors, and products will be available. And while consumers still want indulgent treats, healthy lifestyles and diets continue to be more prevalent than ever. To capitalize on the snacking market, brands need to understand and work within popular healthy lifestyle trends.

Lifestyle trends

Gluten-free

The gluten-free market — populated by people who don’t consume food containing gluten, a type of protein found in wheat — continues to grow and expand, with total projected industry sales of $24 billion by 2020. While it’s a necessary diet for celiacs and those with a gluten intolerance, it’s also perceived as healthier by the general population. A gluten-free diet cuts out grains containing gluten, encompassing a lot of processed foods and products high in sugar. This diet also focuses more on vegetables, protein, and carbohydrates — minus gluten, of course. Since freeze-dried produce is naturally gluten-free, you can add it to your product while keeping it celiac safe. As this industry grows, there are always opportunities to create new gluten-free products.

Vegan

Another healthy food trend is the vegan lifestyle. Vegans avoid eating animal proteins and animal products, including eggs, cheese, and milk. While more focused on ethical food consumption, this is also perceived as a healthier lifestyle. Without milk, cheese, and eggs, vegan products often focus on plant proteins and natural or raw ingredients, both of which are low in sugar. Remember, this trend is more than a diet. If you’re creating a vegan product, maintain transparency with your ingredients and supply chain so your vegan customers can see there are no animal products included.

Paleo

The paleo diet, also called the caveman diet, focuses on raw and unprocessed foods. Aiming to recreate the diet of our ancestors from the Paleolithic era, the paleo diet is meant to ease digestion and reduce inflammation. Restaurants are already catering to these diets, by focusing on meats and fresh produce, rather than any processed foods. There are fewer food products created for this lifestyle since it focuses on fresh ingredients, but there’s opportunity in the market. By creating shelf-safe snacking options that fall in line with the diet guidelines, your brand could fill that gap.

Plant-based protein

In line with the vegan lifestyle, plant protein is making a huge splash. Notably, 23% of consumers want more plant-based proteins on the shelves. Meat-based protein has a higher fat content than plant-based protein, making it a less healthy option. With safe and reliable preservation techniques, plant-based protein can be added to almost any product.

Organic or natural

An established health trend, the organic industry continues to grow. With regulations governing labels and non-GMOs, it takes some research to understand the fine print surrounding organic products. Consumers that adhere to an organic diet also tend to look for locally grown produce or “natural” products. Mostly, customers want ethically sourced food that doesn’t use dangerous chemicals that endanger the environment or their bodies. As the market continues to grow, there’s an opportunity for new snack foods to enter the mix. Transparency in ingredients and supply chain are key to maintaining customer trust when it comes to organic products.

With these snack and lifestyle trends to consider, what products will you decide to launch in 2018? The industry is full of opportunity. See what freeze-drying can do for your food product by getting in touch with us or by reaching out via Facebook or Twitter for more information.