IFT17 Recap: Indulgence is Back in a Big Way

Wednesday 19 July, 2017

While clean label can be classified as a “consumer health trend,” manufacturers are cognizant of the fact that consumers do not want to compromise on taste. As discussed in consumer insight presentations by market research firms like Mintel and Innova Market Insights, what consumers say they want and what they actually do are often at odds.

Sales data shows that many reduced fat, sodium and/or sugar are in decline. Others point to data that “full fat” products are back. Mintel even led a session on “permissible indulgences”, highlighting the rise in consumers that use confectionary, snack or dessert items to “treat” themselves and take a break from the day. 

This isn’t to say that exhibitors showcased nothing but high-calorie food bombs without regard to calorie content or ingredients. But rather than lead with the health claim, taste was allowed to be the star of the show, with additional health properties being the added bonus. Examples of this included baked rather than fried treats that were lower in fat content, treats with added pulse protein and fiber and products featuring all natural flavors. 

Kerry also led with taste in its showcase items. Chefs were on hand to craft southern fried chicken flatbread sandwiches which featured smoke, fat and fried cooking method flavors and a flatbread fortified with Kerry’s plant-based protein solution, ProDiem™. To wash it down, consumers could choose from sugar reduced chocolate milk (which offers 30% less sugar than low-fat chocolate milk but all of the taste) or healthy fat or protein enriched beverages such as a caramel mocha “active lifestyle beverage made with NutriVie™, Kerry’s cleaner label nutritional lipid powders ” or a chocolate raspberry “wellness drink made with ProDiem™, Kerry’s plant-based protein optimized for nutrition, texture and taste.” 

Regardless of where you walked or which booths you visited at IFT, taste seemed to trump health. But beneath the flavor, many of these foods and beverages featured cleaner ingredients and were fortified to create a more nutritious product. And if the goal of food science is to provide tasty and nutritious food for the world, 2017’s theme of “go with purpose” was met with a passionate response.

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) annual meeting and expo was held from June 26 to 28 at the Sands Expo in Las Vegas this year. With over 20,000 attendees, IFT17 brought its theme of “Go With Purpose” to life across 100 sessions and over 1,200 exhibits. Attending food scientists, suppliers and manufacturers shared their passions, learnings, and ideas on how to tackle the task of feeding the world while navigating the swirling waters of consumer trends. By the end of the three days, attendees left with a better understanding of the challenges facing the food industry while pondering the many solutions on hand to resolve the growing dichotomy between consumers and food science.

Contributed by Jonas Feliciano, Sr. Marketing Manager Market Research and Consumer Insights, Snacking.

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