The next cauliflower pizza crust, cronut and nut butter: What to expect in 2020

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

A year of flavourful innovation awaits in 2020. Pic: GettyImages/yayayoyo
A year of flavourful innovation awaits in 2020. Pic: GettyImages/yayayoyo

Related tags Truly Good Foods Innova market insights plant-based Sustainability Gluten-free health & wellbeing Sustainable Development Goals

US better-for-you snack producer Truly Good Foods has released its annual trends report, which highlights the vogue-forward developments it predicts will be big in 2020.

The woman-owned snack mix, dried fruit and roasted nuts and seeds producer fingers flavour innovation, personalised nutrition and a wider acceptance of plant-based options as the top picks among curious consumers.

Vive la revolution!

The plant-forward movement shows no sign of slowing. According to Innova, the number of product launches with a plant-based claim have increased at an 68% average annual growth rate over the past five years.

Truly Good claims the interesting part of the plant-based revolution is that it’s no longer just about finding meat-free alternatives strictly for vegans and vegetarians. Today, plant-based products are also in demand by the general carnivorous population who are cutting down their meat consumption.

‘That is a true testament to the product innovation of great tasting food and the storytelling that has gone hand-in-hand with plant-based products,’​ says Truly Good.

Aligned with the, it believes the mighty chickpea – a great source of protein and fibre – will pop up in a range of new applications and could be the next cauliflower pizza crust or the next alternative butter. Garbanzo beans, too, are making their debut in the bakery segment.

The plant-based trend is also firmly associated with sustainability, another top trend for 2020, especially as we head closer to the deadline for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in 2030.

Innova’s research found that almost 90% of consumers around the world today expect ​companies to invest in sustainability – ranging from food waste and single-use plastics to regenerative agriculture.

More than a flavour

Flavour’s a big contender – and always has been – in garnering consumer appreciation, but Truly Good predicts that texture will play an equally important role.

Playing up texture can elevate existing products into a new realm, capitalising on consumer demand for indulgences that come with a more intense experience.

It can also be a great point of differentiation in crowded categories, like snacks, however, it says to expect to see more product launches with textural claims throughout the year.

The colour palate in 2020 is moving from the warmer tones to the cooler hues of blues and greens.

Adventurous innovations are anticipated to frolic with colourful ingredients like blue algae, beets, matcha and butterfly pea flower tea – which changes colour from blue to purple when acidity is added – in snacks, beverages and even brightly hued baked goods.

On the topic of flavour, fruity tones are predicted to take a turn into the exotic.

Influences from faraway lands in the East are trickling in and yuzu, lychee, blood orange, prickly pear, calamansi (a hybrid between a kumquat and mandarin orange), Meyer lemon and Japanese plum are set to take the lead in everything from snacks, to beverages and confectionery.

Sweet heat

The consumer still has a sweet tooth, but these days, it’s being tempered down with the addition of spicy notes.

According to Truly Good Foods, this is being driven by the growing awareness that sugar comes with negative connotations, prompting product development teams to look into less sweet flavours that will keep consumers interested.

Spicy, global cuisines continue to be a huge trend in the foodservice industry, and are now filtering down into indulgent confections like sweet baked goods, chocolates and candy.

New flours

The grain-free movement is no longer a niche, but fast gaining ground as more innovative alternative flours hit the shelves. Expect to see even more versions this coming year.

The Cauli-Flour baking mixes from Caulipower – the company that created cauliflower-crust frozen pizzas that became the fastest-growing frozen pizza brand in the US – could be a game-changer for a lot of people.

The gluten-free flour can be swapped for regular flour to make brownies, muffins, pretzels, cookies and bread. Cauli-Flour’s Make Whatever You Want Mix comes in two varieties: original (rice and quinoa flours) and Paleo (almond, tapioca, and arrowroot flours) that have fewer calories, carbs, fat and sodium, and are higher in fibre than regular all-purpose flour and other gluten-free mixes on the market.

Other out-of-the box flours expected to go mainstream next year include banana, chickpea, Tigernut coconut, nuts and sorghum flours, punting additional extras like protein, fibre and other nutritional benefits.

Mood food

Truly Good’s 2019 report covered the functional food trend. Next year, though, it believes producers will diver deeper into the innovation pool with ingredients that will shift a consumer’s mood in a particular way.

This will become particularly prevalent as consumers move away from the three-square-meals-a-day custom and dive headlong into snacking throughout the day.

Mood-boosting ingredients are more regularly being featured on packaged snacks and restaurants are even testing special menus to shift your mood in a particular way, says Truly Good.

Nut butters have certainly made their mark, and it’s not unusual to see butters made from macadamia, almonds, coconuts and others sitting alongside peanut butter. These plant-based butters tick a number of beneficial boxes, especially as more light is being shined on allergies and eliminating the use of palm oil.

In 2020, seeds are projected to come the fore, so look out for butters made from watermelon, sesame, pumpkin and even hemp seeds.

Few can forget the cronut – the croissant/doughnut hybrid invented by New York’s Dominique Ansel Bakery – that went viral back in 2013. It was even named by Time magazine as one of the best ‘extremely fun’ inventions of that year.

We’ve seen hybrid trends come and go since then, but Truly Good believes 2020 will be a big year for more inventions to become all the rage.

‘As food companies feel the pressure for creative flavour innovation to attract consumers’ attention and boost sales, they’ve taken to mixing and matching among flavours and categories. Think birthday cake-flavoured popcorn or alcohol-flavoured gummies,’​ writes the company, noting many of these flavours are being rolled out as limited release to enhance the uniqueness of the experience.

According to Innova, launches with a limited-batch claim have increased by 36% over the past few years, as it’s a great way to test a snack’s acceptance before launching into mass production.

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