What’s in store for the food industry in 2009?
Kelly Frederick, Digital Media Editor, Food Technology
These are volatile times, making it practically impossible to guess
where the industry is headed. However, there are a few key trends that
we can use as markers to help guide our way through 2009. Here, Food Technology magazine presents you with our annual Food Forecast newsletter, where industry experts and Food Technology editors use their knowledge to provide you with a glimpse into the food future, at least for 2009.
One of the main trends impacting the food industry, and every
industry, is the state of the economy. The recession has already had an
effect on food manufacturers, retailers, and restaurants, with many
cutting back (both in manpower and production output). This often
results in layoffs and plant closures. However, in a review of the top
company news of 2008 Karen Nachay reveals that growth was still occurring through mergers, acquisitions, partnerships, and collaborations.
Faced with the economic slump, many food companies are concentrating
their efforts on finding ways to cut costs and offer consumers more
“bang for their buck.” This is likely to continue throughout 2009 and
into 2010. A. Elizabeth Sloan
expands on the economy’s impact on consumer behavior, explaining that
there will be an increase in home entertaining, brown-bagging, and a
fast-emerging desire to make restaurant-style food easy to cook at
home. Donald E. Pszczola
looks at how the current slowing economy will take precedence as
ingredient companies re-evaluate trends and explain the value of their
ingredients against today’s economic landscape.
Unlike the economy, one thing that is certain is that with the new
Obama administration in the White House, change is on the horizon. And
this includes change for food regulations. Roger R. Szemraj
examines the regulatory agenda for 2009, which will most likely demand
more from the food industry. Another regulatory hot topic is food
safety. The outbreak of Salmonella, which led to perhaps the
largest food product recall to date, has garnered a lot of media
attention. With all this media attention, many are beginning to
question the ability of the FDA to ensure food safety. Jeannie Houchins
describes how food and the impact on consumer health will always be of
interest to the media, and will continue gaining attention in 2009.
Despite regulatory upheaval and the economic downturn, innovation—in
both technology and ingredients—still plays a major role in food
industry for 2009. Linda Milo Ohr explores how ingredient innovation is leading the way in introducing healthiness into everyday foods. Neil H. Mermelstein
explains that research will continue to be conducted on new products
and analytical methods for use in the laboratory, processing plant, and
field. And as J. Peter Clark
elucidates, challenges in financing and reduced consumer demand may
restrict major capital investments for awhile, but the pressure for new
products and manufacturing cost reductions never really eases. In
addition, improvements in packaging technology will be necessary as
manufacturers fight for consumers’ attention. Aaron L. Brody highlights how this year will see an influx of consumer-driven developments in food packaging.
Contractions and expansions for 2009 and beyond
A. Elizabeth Sloan, Contributing Editor, Food Technology
In 2009, the downturn in the economy
will continue to impact food choices and behaviors, and consumers will
continue to eat and cook more meals at home. With about half of
consumers reporting cooking from scratch more frequently than six
months ago and 82% eating a home cooked meal three or more days per
week, expect sales of basic food ingredients to grow as prepared meals,
treats, carbonated beverages, indulgent snacks, and desserts decline.
Single serve packs and organic foods, which have slowed to 4% growth,
will be most affected. Expect an increase in home entertaining,
brown-bagging, and a fast emerging desire to make restaurant-style food
easy to cook at home.
Bullet proof health
among the higher income brackets—appear to be one of the least affected
segments by the downturn in the economy. Sales of foods that are lower
in fat, calories, cholesterol, and sodium will continue to soar as
Americans continue to try to improve their diet and manage their
weight. Expect restaurants to embrace healthier meals especially for
children. Young Gen Y’s foray into healthy eating, recognition of
serious risk factors in kids, and a new focus on the health concerns of
high spending 60 and 70-somethings will offer new healthy food
“Dinner plate” travelers
craving of new flavors, cuisines, and taste experiences will continue
to escalate, especially among young Gen Y adults. The emergence of
America’s first generation of “little foodies” will drive a culinary
revolution in the children’s food market. At the same time, consumers
age 50+ will drive resurgence in classic and old world cuisines, foods,
and flavors such as French and German foods. This includes duck, veal,
ham, and traditional flavors such as French onion and buttermilk.
New administration—New priorities
Roger R. Szemraj, Counsel, Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Bode Matz PC
It is expected that President Obama’s administration will have a
robust regulatory agenda. Many also believe that proposed and final
rules will likely be in line with consumer concerns, demanding more
from the food industry.
Regulatory review: The Obama administration is
reviewing all recent and pending rulemakings. An Obama appointee must
approve new proposed or final regulations before they are sent for
publication. All final or proposed regulations pending publication in
the Federal Register have been withdrawn. Agencies have been
asked to “consider extending for 60 days the effective date of
regulations that have been published in the Federal Register
but not yet taken effect” unless they impact health, safety,
environmental, financial, or national security matters. The recently
published Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling rule will likely be
reconsidered by the new administration as a result.
Regulatory agenda: Upcoming rulemakings on schedule include:
- National Organic Program—Several rules to implement provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill will be required.
- Genetically modified organisms—Revise regulations regarding the
importation, interstate movement, and environmental release of certain
- Food importation—Phytosanitary certificates for imported fruits and
vegetables, swine and swine products from Europe; Importation of
Poultry and Poultry Products from Regions Affected with Highly
Pathogenic Avian Influenza; guidance for industry entitled Good
- Food safety and labeling—Performance Standards for the Production
of Processed Meat and Poultry Products; Control of Listeria
monocytogenes in Ready-to-Eat Meat and Poultry Products; Availability
of Lists of Retail Consignees During Meat or Poultry Product Recalls;
Serving Sizes and Nutrition Labeling.
Secretary Tom Vilsack and the former Human Health and Services (HHS)
Secretary Tom Daschle had begun discussions regarding emphasizing good
nutrition as preventive health care. Look for enhanced nutrition
standards in school food programs as part of Child Nutrition
Reauthorization, and as a consequence of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines
for Americans. Action on federal menu labeling may also occur.
- Food safety interagency action—Expect efforts to further
synchronize the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture and the Food and Drug
Administration food safety responsibilities pending any further
Pszczola’s ingredients forecast
Donald E. Pszczola, Senior Associate Editor, Food Technology
The current slowing economy will take precedence as ingredient
companies re-evaluate trends and explain the value of their ingredients
against today’s economic landscape.
Today’s economy might mean a number of things for the
consumer—smaller portion sizes, cheaper cuts of meat, less visits to
the restaurant, and more dining at home. If so, then formulators will
be looking for ingredient developments that can recreate the restaurant
or “white tablecloth” experience while taking into consideration those
factors. This might mean the use of bolder or more exotic sauces or
marinades, the use of ingredients and flavors from international
cuisines, ethnic preparation styles, and proteins from different
The term “mood food” will be surfacing more frequently as
formulators develop foods that can capture or affect one’s moods.
Expect ingredient suppliers to create a line of mood flavors or
ingredients that can be used in foods to reflect certain emotions
ranging from calm to angry.
With FDA’s approval of stevia, expect to see a variety of products
made with the sweetener appearing in the marketplace. These products
may stimulate the development of other sweeteners or sweetener blends.
food and beverage products will combine traditional fruits with exotic
fruits, particularly those being promoted as “superfruits.” The use of
superfruit flavors in foods and beverages is being fueled by their
exotic tastes, antioxidant profiles, and an interest in different
flavors from around the world.
Beverage flavors are no longer just for beverages. In 2009, more
food products will be made with such flavors as coffee, tea, alcohol,
and fruits. Consumers have a familiarity with such flavors that might
impact their purchasing. Furthermore, many of these flavors are fun—a
characteristic that is especially important during the present economy
so don’t be surprised if you see alcohol-flavored potato chips or
use of salt alternatives will continue to play an important role in the
development of new food products. In particular, flavor innovations
will combine with sea salt or sodium blends. With the present economy,
there are growing opportunities for private label products that can
offer consumers high quality and diversity. Formulators will be turing
to ingredients for a number of answers.
Functional food outlook
Linda Milo Ohr, Contributing Editor, Food Technology
In 2009, weight management, heart health, immunity, and digestive
health will still be top concerns for consumers. However, innovation
will be seen in emerging ingredient offerings, growing consumer
knowledge, and the mainstreaming of niche foods.
Beauty foods: Foods and beverages will utilize antioxidants, such as lutein, vitamin E, and green tea extracts to promote skin health.
Cognitive health: Boosting mental health is a
growing area in the mood foods arena. Omega-3 fatty acids, citicoline,
and phosphatidylserine are ingredients that will find increased use.
Weight management: Ingredients
that have been shown to promote satiety will be increasingly sought
after. This will include various forms of dietary fiber, as well as
emerging ingredients like peptides and lipid-based appetite
Digestive health: Every year, consumers are
becoming more familiar with probiotics and their benefits for both
digestive health and immunity. Probiotic suppliers are making it easier
to add these beneficial bugs to an increasing variety of products, such
as ice cream, baked goods, functional confectionery, and beverages.
Resistant starch: In 2008, resistant starch
received consumer media coverage on its effects on weight management,
glycemic management, and digestive health. This versatile ingredient
will be increasingly used as consumers learn more.
Natural sweeteners: For calorie counters, natural
sweeteners like stevia and agave nectar will be used to lower calorie
contents in foods and beverages.
Food companies continue growth
Karen Nachay, Associate Editor, Food Technology
In 2008, a number of food companies and organizations from around
the world explored new opportunities, expanded facilities, formed
alliances, or invested more in ingredient and product development. What
follows is a small sampling of some of the news regarding mergers and
acquisitions, collaborations, green efforts, new facilities, and GRAS
status from the past year.
Mergers and acquisitions
Much of the business
transactions included mergers and acquisitions. Mars Inc. and Wm.
Wrigley Jr. Co. merged to create the world’s largest confectionery
company. Under the terms of the agreement, Wrigley became a separate,
stand-alone subsidiary of Mars. InBev acquired Anheuser-Busch. The
combined company is called Anheuser-Busch InBev, and Anheauser-Busch is
now a wholly owned subsidiary of InBev. Givaudan Flavors Corp. sold its
St. Louis, Mo.-based food ingredient business and manufacturing
facility to PCI Co., the owner of Diehl Food Ingredients. Symrise AG
acquired the dairy flavors, savory flavors, sweet flavors, and
seasonings sectors of Chr. Hansen. There were plenty more of these
transactions that involved large and small companies. Perhaps, however,
the credit crunch will cause a decrease in the number of these
transactions in the coming months.
Companies also collaborated to develop
new products or to market existing ones. Desert King granted National
Starch Food Innovation global exclusive rights to sell quillaja-based
products and innovations for stabilization and delivery of a range of
actives and ingredients to the food and beverage industry. Attune Foods
now uses two Danisco probiotic strains—Howaru Dophilus and Howaru
Bifido—in its Probiotic Wellness Bars. Cognis has exclusively licensed
an ingredient for weight management from InterMed Discovery GmbH.
Silliker formed a licensing agreement with Kraft Foods Inc. for a
patent-pending in vitro method for predicting the glycemic index of
foods. Naturex and Scalime Nutrition formed a partnership to accelerate
the technical development, marketing, and commercialization of
Scalime’s polyphenolic extracts.
The movement toward becoming more
“green” is affecting many industries, and the food industry is not
immune. In fact, companies are evaluating environmental initiatives as
a way to remain competitive. ConAgra Foods decided to incorporate
post-consumer recycled plastic in most of its frozen meal trays.
McCormick & Co. Inc. signed an agreement with Constellation
Energy’s Project & Services Group under which Constellation
constructed an approximately one megawatt solar power system at
McCormick’s Spice Mill and Distribution Center in Hunt Valley, Md.
PepsiCo announced that it continues making progress toward
environmental sustainability goals of reducing water consumption by
20%, electricity consumption by 20%, and fuel consumption by 25% per
unit of production by 2015.
Cargill opened its Specialty Canola
Research and Production Centre at the company’s research farm in
Aberdeen, Saskatchewan, Canada, and its Product Innovation Center in
Minneapolis, Minn. Barry Callebaut opened several new facilities,
including Chocolate Academies in Russia and India, as well as its first
innovation center in the U.S. The Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and
Food Science opened at the Univ. of California, Davis. This
130,000-sq-ft complex houses wine and food sensory labs and a teaching
theater, food innovation kitchen, and offices. Balchem Corp. opened its
Bakery Innovation Center at its headquarters in New Hampton, N.Y. Corn
Products International opened a new central business office in Newark,
The Food and Drug Administration gave GRAS
status to many different ingredients. FDA issued a no objection letter
with respect to rebaudioside (reb A), recognizing that reb A at a
minimum specification of 95% is generally recognized as safe for use as
a sweetener in foods and beverages. Cognis Nutrition and Health
received GRAS status for its Tonalin conjugated linoleic acid. Burcon
NutraScience Corp. received GRAS status for its Puratein and Supertein
canola protein isolates.
Laboratory forecast for 2009
Neil H. Mermelstein, Editor Emeritus, Food Technology
during 2009 will continue to be conducted on new products and
analytical methods for use in the laboratory, processing plant, and
field. Instrumentation companies and university and government
laboratories will continue to develop improved methods and instruments
for analysis of foods, ranging from compositional analysis to quality
control applications. Among the developments will be advances in
instrumental methods—whether gas chromatography, mass spectrometry,
olfactometry, infrared spectrometry, or others—as well as increased
sensitivity and reproducibility, portable/miniaturized versions for
field use, and less-expensive instruments providing comparable results.
Companies will continue to develop test kits that can be used for
quality control in the plant and in the field, such as test kits for
bacteria and allergens. They will continue to improve equipment for
determining viscosity and methods for determining the effects of
ingredients on product viscosity and texture. There will also be
improved sample preparation techniques and systems, improved reporting
systems, better systems for traceability, continued development and
validation of analytical methods, and more work on correlating sensory
evaluation with analytical results. Some of these developments will be
covered in the Laboratory column of Food Technology during
the coming months. Topics will include carbohydrate testing, nutrition
software and labeling, texture and viscosity measurement, trace element
analysis, microbiological testing, moisture and water activity
determination, and advances in instrumentation.
Processing developments in 2009
J. Peter Clark, Contributing Editor, Food Technology
Challenges in financing and reduced consumer demand may restrict
major capital investments for awhile, but the pressure for new products
and manufacturing cost reductions never really eases. Selected units of
equipment may be upgraded and improved controls and automation used to
reduce waste and increase productivity.
High pressure processing and irradiation may find wider application
as consumers realize that fresher food comes with higher risks of
microbial contamination. These technologies are among the few that can
reduce vegetative cell count with minimal effect on the food.
The desire to eat locally may create opportunities for small processors and distributors.
Low acid, aseptically processed foods will probably increase,
including many with small particles, such as soups with pureed
Ultrasonic sensors, which can measure density and distance without
direct contact, will see applications in sensing as well as processing,
for mixing, cutting, and homogenization.
Membrane separations are mature technologies, but will find
increased application to reduce waste discharge, recycle process water,
and concentrate fluid foods with lower energy and less flavor loss than
Canned foods may see an increase in demand because of their
perceived “good” value and reliable safety history. The ability to
recycle steel and aluminum containers may make them more popular than
laminated foil and paper, which are more difficult to recycle. New
canning facilities will be highly automated for container handling,
will have real-time lethality controls, and often will have some form
of container agitation, such as shaking or rotation.
Innovation in food packaging
Aaron L. Brody, Contributing Editor, Food Technology
Without harping on the endless beat of the sustainability bandwagon
whose road during an economic crisis seems to be more difficult to
traverse, this new year (of change) will be witness to more change in
food packaging derived from consumer and retailer patterns of the past
few years. Remember that rarely does innovation in food arise from
nothing; all were born in some previous incarnation that was obscure or
overlooked by seers. Cost reductions will, of course, sound loudly as
food packaging technologists and suppliers seek to identify structures
that can be both functional and less expensive, and although difficult
some will materialize.
At the opposite end of the food packaging spectrum will be the
continuing influx of consumer-driven developments—mostly linked to
convenience, safety, and quality of the contents. Safety translates
into microbiological safety, some of which can be offered by packaging,
but more frequently, by integration of packaging and environmental
controls. Convenience is time! And quality is remembrance of fresh and
freshly made. Incorporating these into packaged foods will be
to the drums suggesting more for re-thermalization in the microwave
oven—for the three minute heat and eat—internal steamer packages that
heat more rapidly than microwave alone by containing and then carefully
releasing excess steam, or stand-up flexible retort pouches fabricated
from glass-coated materials that can be reheated in microwave ovens.
And has anyone noticed the gradual permeation of component kits that
that can be microwave heated and toasted, and assembled into
sandwiches? Or ultra high pressure processed foods designed for
microwave ovens? Has the microwave oven become the American consumers’
favorite appliance yet?
Nutritionally enhanced, or perceived-to-be-enhanced foods and
beverages are flooding our grocery shelves. They contain probiotics,
prebiotics, vitamins, minerals and other more mysterious “ingredients.”
By definition, the greater the claimed or real enhancements, the
greater the barrier required to protect against the ravages of the
natural environment. Barrier translates into less oxygen in the product
and package, and less transmitted through the package material and
structure. Plus, of course, better distribution control, because the
packaging must be in harmony with other elements of food preservation.
What about aseptic processing and packaging of particulates in 2009?
Finally, we may have crossed the virtual boundary with the
reintroduction of SIG Combiboc—soon, we presume, to be followed by
Tetra Pak—and the ability to fill particulates under sterile
conditions. The competition between retort pouches, trays, and whatever
structures aseptic packaging can offer is underway for products such as
soups, sauces, etc. In addition, the venerable can is trying its
resurrection with easy open and easy peel open packaging.
Will there be a 2009 revolution in food packaging? Probably no more
than in 2008, or 1998, or 1988, or 1888, but look carefully and you
will observe and be influenced by quiet innovation.
Media chatter about food
Jeannie Houchins, Director of Media Relations, IFT
Beginning 2009 with a major food-related outbreak of Salmonella certainly
provides a shaky start to the New Year but it does highlight certain
topics that are on the minds of media, consumers, government, and other
Topics surely to be covered throughout the year include:
- Revisiting the idea of one united food regulatory agency. This was
initially discussed a couple years back but with more high profile and
widespread (not to mention reported on) outbreaks from produce to
finished products this idea will continue to be revisited.
- Food protection (referring to food safety and food defense) on
domestic and imported foods: How to improve? How to detect? How to
In addition to food protection issues, media will continue reporting
on the greening of eating. Topics that remain on the forefront include:
consuming products that have less food miles (in terms of transport)
and less packaging, and buying products that were produced in a
Food and the impact on consumer health will always be of interest to
the media. It’s not just reporting on the endemic obesity crisis but
we’ll see more stories taking a closer look at actual food ingredients,
flavorings, and nanotechnology. Second generation functional foods that
help with enhancing moods, cognitive function, and beauty from the
inside out will also receive increased coverage.
The topics are set and modes of delivering this information have
changed. Blogs have hit mainstream and IFT joined the ranks for
expedient news delivery with the ePerspective. In addition, news story headlines are finding their way through social media outlets like Twitter. IFT’s Twitter is just one of the many organizations competing for the media and consumers’ demand for timely news.
In short, media chatter will increase this year, along with the various ways of it being disseminated and shared.