Market forecasts are always a tricky business.

Numbers are tough to pin down, opinions can vary radically, conditions change due to unforeseen circumstance.

But we need forecasts, so we asked Kazia Jankowski, associate culinary director over at Sterling-Rice Group (a leading ad agency with a bunch of clients in the naturals sector) what sorts of trends she finds when SRG figuratively sticks a wetted finger in the wind. This is what she had to say:

“These are areas where we see changes in the world of food aligning with changes in society, and we predict that these are the most important areas for the future of the food industry. We think these will provide the largest growth opportunities for food businesses:”

  • Community connected
    As a backlash against the many stresses of globalization, we are seeking the comfort and security of connections that are closer to home.
     
  • More with less
    Awareness of society’s wastefulness has created a new perspective (and a new prestige) for a more modest and thoughtful approach to life.
     
  • Doctor me
    Healthcare crisis is forcing individuals to take charge of their own well-being, empowered by access to unprecedented information and options.
     
  • Simple refuge
    Overwhelmed by information and life’s daily pressures, we long for an escape, a moment to relax or to return to a simpler way of life.
     
  • Break free
    As the demands of the world escalate, so does our need to defy convention. We want to go beyond what’s been done and stand for something new.
  • Cultural curiosity
    As Americans experience more of the cultures and cuisines of the world, they increasingly  recognize and appreciate their flavor and character.

  • Luxury revalued
    We are living with less but still need to treat ourselves with smaller, high-quality products and experiences.

“Of particular importance to ingredients suppliers are the growth of multicultural ingredients (e.g., Brazilian acai, Spanish jamon Serrano, etc.), the emphasis on real/natural/simple ingredients (e.g. Haagan Dazs Five), and the reinvention/reintroduction of classic ingredients (e.g. oatmeal, absinthe, etc.).

“In terms of functional ingredients, we see a move toward ingredients that have natural functional benefits and a move away from fortified ingredients. For example, consumers want Greek yogurt, which is naturally high in protein, but are less likely to want a yogurt that’s been enhanced with protein.”

Jankowski also notes the expansion of probiotics in general, and cites Naked Pizza, which makes a crust with probiotics and prebiotics, as an example.

In general, she says that clean labels with natural products matter the most to consumers. In the juice line, she says they’ve seen a slight increase in interest in vegetable juices, including those with carrots and tomatoes.