At the end of June, Mercer Foods headed to Las Vegas to attend and exhibit at the Institute of Food Technologists 2017 trade show, or IFT17 for short. As the largest technology and research and development show of the year for the food industry, we always look forward to attending and seeing the latest advancements and ingenuity in our field. This year was no exception.  The innovation and new ideas in food trends were just as blistering as the Las Vegas entertainment scene and the sun outside the show.

As we walked the show floor and talked with people from all over the world, certain trends stood out above others. Luckily, in the case of IFT17, what happens in Vegas doesn’t have to stay in Vegas. Take a look at the top six takeaways from the show:

Innovation meets trends at IFT17.

Innovation meets trends at IFT17.

1. Clean labeling

We have previously reported on the explosion of clean label foods, ingredients, and communications at the IFT shows. This trend has become more mainstream, allowing consumers to incorporate clean label options more regularly and systematically into their lives. What was once a hunt to find products with transparent labeling, companies are now setting the bar so customers can easily purchase cleaner and simpler foods, less toxic household cleaners, paper goods, clothing, and gardening supplies. According to Innova, clean labeling is seeing double digit continuous growth worldwide with no sign of stopping.

2. Badges of identity

More food companies are using third-party verified systems labels to communicate key product attributes. Labels are proudly displayed on front and back packaging. There is growth in labels such as USDA Organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, whole grain, and real fruit.

3. The plant diet

Across multiple food categories, plant-based and alternative foods are growing rapidly. Everything from plant-based milks and beverages to plant protein alternatives were everywhere.

4. Foods for changing life stages

Food portions and prep options are being expanded to address changing life stages. Companies are capitalizing on the higher percentage of single-occupant households, offering single portion food options. There is also a rise in convenient, snackable options for consumers who prefer to eat smaller amounts across multiple occasions, rather than the traditional — and increasingly outdated — three square meals per day.

5. The craft of artisan food

Craft and artisan foods, made in small batches with more attention to taste and texture are expanding across almost all food categories. Not just a label on a product, companies are perfecting the the art of preserving the sense of being artisan or small-batch while at the same time producing at a scale to serve thousands of stores and retailers. As Mintel points out, traditional mass-produced products such as ketchup, mayonnaise, and peanut butter are now being re-envisioned in an artisan mindset to meet modern shoppers

6. Home is where the heart is

The modern American consumer balances a love for products created in the U.S. while embracing international cuisine. Packaging is also jumping on board, with a noticeable increase of “Made in the U.S.A.” labeling.

Were you at IFT17? We would love to hear how your experience was and what trends stuck with you. Connect with Mercer Foods on Twitter or Facebook today.