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How Google Searches Reflect Food Trends

Kantar report spotlights 10 movements impacting R&D and merchandising
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
Consumer interest in adaptogens for brain health is one of the trends noted by Kantar in its new report.

Global insights firm Kantar is out with a report on “Finding the Future” of food, using more than 36 billion Google searches tied to more than 180 topics to discern the most noteworthy industry trends. According to that report, three primary drivers of health, experience and environment are shaping consumer interests that ultimately impact food consumption and sales.

[Read more: "Big Ideas and Trends at Summer Fancy Food Show"]

The top 10 future-forward food trends include many familiar topics to those in the business of marketing and selling consumable products:

  1. Cognitive reloaded. As consumers remain keen on improving their holistic health, they are seeking out foods that optimize brain function, with ingredients such as Ashwagandha and adaptogens.
  2. Protein narrative. People continue to explore plant-based protein sources, as the flexitarian approach gains in popularity.
  3. Gut health is life.  A growing recognition of gut health is leading to greater demand for digestive health products.
  4. The great sugar debate. While consumers want to lower their sugar intake, they don’t want to sacrifice taste and are hence checking out alternatives such as stevia, agave nectar and monk fruit.
  5. Precision nutrition. Purposeful consumption is a thing, as consumers leverage personalized data to find and buy micronutrients that align with their tastes and nutrition/health needs.
  6. Sea plants are the new superfoods. The market for seaweed and algae is opening up, with shoppers saying that they are willing to experiment with products made from those nutrient-dense ingredients.
  7. Ancestral ingredients pivot from Asia. Consumers are investigating natural ingredients with long-proven protective properties, from Maca root to Yerba mate.
  8. Swicy, the new flavor profile. As it name suggests, this trend is marked by shoppers’ taste for spicy, sweet and savory foods that are balanced in heat and flavor.
  9. Rethinking home cooking steams ahead. What started in the pandemic continues, as home cooks like to put together sophisticated meals and hone their cooking skills.
  10. Sustainability gets granular. More than a wish or goal, sustainability is getting real, with people learning more about sustainable agricultural practices behind products, actively seeking to reduce food waste and showing a willingness to hold brands to their ESG claims.

As for what’s next, Kantar’s analysts project that these trends will foster the development of products that are tied to, among other things, the food for medicine movement and the use of AI and technology to deliver personalized options.

The full report is available online.

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