From ambient goods to grab-and-go salads, and instant mixes for pastas and soups, the meal solutions market is incredibly diverse and ripe for innovation, as consumers remain hungry for convenience.
Kathy De La Bastide, Group R&D Manager for Chaucer Foods, explains key trends influencing the future of the meal solutions market.
1. What trends are you seeing in the meal solutions market?
Consumer demand for convenient, flavorful and healthy meal options continues to drive innovation in meal solutions. In Europe, Asia and the U.S., we are seeing strong demand for dry savory mixes for pasta, couscous, and even mashed potatoes, which incorporate dried herbs and spices for added nutrition and flavor. While many consumers are now spending more time cooking at home, this could mean that they value the convenience of a meal solution even more, especially one that offers a unique flavor experience or an easy way to elevate traditional dishes. The shift to at-home cooking may also increase opportunities for meal kits and prepared meals, which are still quite premium, but are designed to save consumers time in the kitchen and at the grocery store.
2. What new flavor trends should NPD teams be aware of?
Consumer tastes are more diverse than ever, which represents both a challenge and a great opportunity for the meal solutions sector. Adventurous consumers are looking for ways to add variety to their diet and experiment with new, global cuisines. In the U.S., consumers show a growing interest in flavors and ingredients stemming from Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Indian and Japanese cuisines.1 Other Asian cuisines are also flourishing in global markets, from Thai and Vietnamese to Malaysian and Indonesian.
3. How has the focus on clean labels and healthier snacking influenced the savory meals sector?
Convenience and nutrition have not always gone hand-in-hand. As consumers have shifted their eating habits, placing more of an emphasis on healthy, natural ingredients, the meal solutions sector has had to adapt. Today, we see a growing number of options that feature recognizable, plant-based ingredients and natural or “free-from” claims. With artificial preservatives and additives in the spotlight, we have also seen increased demand for natural ingredients with a long ambient shelf-life that offer great taste, high quality and nutritional benefits.
4. Which new ingredients can add value to savory meals?
When it comes to adding new flavors and textures to salads, ready meals, wraps and snacks, baked ingredients can deliver a lot of value. We offer savory baked ingredients in a range of innovative flavors and presentations, like focaccia and sourdough, which sync with evolving flavor preferences and the desire for more diverse snack offerings. We also produce a range of different formats to suit a variety of application needs, from crumbs and coatings to croutons. All of our baked selections are made in traditional batches using authentic ingredients. Our products contain no additives or artificial preservatives, supporting a simpler label.
Freeze-dried vegetables and pulses are another easy way to add natural flavor, color and nutrition to salads, soups, ingredient mixes and more. Freeze-dried vegetables are 100% natural, making them an immediate value-add for products appealing to a health-focused and clean label consumer. With a long, ambient shelf life, freeze-dried ingredients stay fresh month-after-month.
Whether you’re working on something new, or adjusting to new trends, our R&D team is constantly developing new application ideas and creating ingredient solutions that add real value for our customers. Learn more about how our savory baked and freeze-dried ingredients can a premium flair to meal applications, or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to speak with a member of our team.