Nancy Mann Jackson

online conversations

©sorbetto/DigitalVision Vectors/getty images

online conversations

©sorbetto/DigitalVision Vectors/getty images


Redefining food innovation

As consumer interests and demands evolve, food and beverage companies continue to develop new products in response. Food innovations often are measured based on sales and revenue figures, but researchers at food and beverage intelligence company Spoonshot believe that commercial success is not the only factor that defines true innovation. Instead, consumer acceptance is the final judge of whether a product will be successful or not.

In Spoonshot’s Gamechangers 2022 report, researchers studied the online conversations consumers are having about food innovation and used them as a measuring stick to rank new and innovative food products. The research shows that consumers most frequently associate food innovation with concepts such as food tech, sustainability, food waste, climate change, and vegan, plant-based, and healthy food.

With attention to the concepts that matter most to consumers, Spoonshot researchers analyzed 7,000 startups in 130 different categories to find the most innovative food and beverage products. They measured innovativeness using criteria such as novelty of the ingredients, product claims, health benefits, marketing messaging, brand engagement rates, and consumer reviews, and developed a list of the 25 most innovative food brands.

Spoonshot identified three main themes reflected among the top 25 innovators: alternative product formulations, wellness, and sustainability.


©UnitoneVector/iStock/Getty Images Plus


©UnitoneVector/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Spoonshot’s Top 10 Innovative Food Brands

  1. Reveal
  2. Mikuna
  3. Grounded
  4. Natural Heaven
  5. Rae
  6. Fable
  7. RightRice
  8. Rheal Superfoods
  9. Tarwi
  10. Hemp Love
drinking caffeine beverage

©Burke/Triolo Productions/The Image Bank/Getty images

drinking caffeine beverage

©Burke/Triolo Productions/The Image Bank/Getty images


Consumers crave caffeine

Americans love their caffeine—and most underestimate how much is safe to consume, according to a new research report from Food Insights titled Caffeine: Consumption Habits and Safety Perceptions.

From a morning coffee to an afternoon soda or an evening treat of tiramisu, products containing caffeine are an integral part of Americans’ daily food choices. In fact, more than nine in 10 Americans (93%) report consuming caffeine. Three in four (75%) have caffeine at least once a day, and one in four (25%) consume it three or more times a day.

Why do we consume so much caffeine? The reasons vary, according to this new research. Most people (55%) say they simply “like the taste.” However, 45% say they consume caffeine “to feel awake/alert,” and another 45% say it’s “part of my routine.” People over age 65 are more likely to say they consume caffeine because they like the taste and it is part of their routine, while people under 45 were more likely to say they consumed these products to improve their mood, to help them focus, to relieve stress, for social aspects, and for special occasions.

Reasons for consuming caffeine also differed based on the type of product consumed. For example, those who consume soft drinks or tea were more likely to say that they consume caffeinated products because they like the taste, it feels comforting, and to improve their mood. By contrast, those who consume energy drinks were more likely to say that they consume caffeinated products to feel awake/alert, to improve their mood, to help them focus, to relieve stress, to improve physical performance, for social aspects, and for special occasions.

Regardless of their reasons for consuming caffeine, most people (67%) believe that caffeine is safe when consumed in moderation. But a much smaller percentage actually understand what constitutes a safe amount of caffeine. Most Americans underestimate the safe amount of caffeine for a healthy adult to consume on a daily basis, while three in 10 (29%) say they don’t know what the safe amount is.

For healthy adults, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cited 400 milligrams a day as an amount not generally associated with dangerous, negative health effects. When Americans were asked to select what they perceived to be the safe amount of caffeine for a healthy adult to consume on a daily basis, over half underestimated the safe amounts, with 38% saying “up to 200 mg a day” and 17% saying “up to 300 mg a day.” Only 17% accurately selected “up to 400 mg a day.”

For caffeine-loving consumers, the good news is that they may be able to safely consume even more of the stuff.

Al Clausi
Al Clausi

Celebrating Al Clausi

Former IFT President Al Clausi, a pioneering product developer and research leader at General Foods for 40 years, is celebrating his 100th birthday this month. Visit to learn more about his achievements and product development philosophies.


Center-store items fuel grocery delivery

In an effort to provide convenience for customers, retailers have established many choices for consumer delivery, including pickup, curbside, locker, scheduled, same day, and instant delivery. As consumers have embraced these choices, there has been significant continued growth in the delivery space over the past two years, according to 1010 Data Market Intelligence.

groceries in a box

©fcafotodigital/E+/gety images

groceries in a box

©fcafotodigital/E+/gety images

From 2019 to 2021, sales in e-commerce fulfilled by delivery have grown 77%. That growth included an increase of 59.8% from 2019 to 2020, and an increase of 10.8% from 2020 to 2021.

Grocery delivery leader Instacart has seen larger growth from sales on center-store groceries and less on perishables and nonfoods like baby and health-care products. These shifts in sales appear to indicate categories that customers prefer to shop for in-store. Many people prefer to select their own produce, but like to have pantry items delivered and available on demand, for example. Shelf-stable beverages and foods are driving increased sales, while sales for perishable items and household items are declining.

During 2021, delivery demand for health bars grew by 56%, carbonated drinks grew by 37%, and tea and juice grew by 31% and 28%, respectively. While most of the growth in delivery demand came from center-store items rather than fresh items, meat is an outlier to these findings, with 80% growth in e-commerce delivery of protein items during 2021.

With growth occurring in the center store rather than perishables and household items, Instacart saw a drop in the sales value of the average shopping basket. Grocery receipt totals delivered by Instacart dropped on average from $57 in 2019 to $36 in 2021.

Despite the drop in average receipt totals, overall spending for e-commerce grocery delivery is increasing; for example, Instacart’s share of units sold is growing, according to data from 1010. Overall, grocery delivery continues to grow even as the pandemic lockdowns end and shoppers have the ability to return to stores.

"Younger consumers want food and beverage products that are tailored to their unique needs and preferences—and they want to be part of the process. Six out of 10 consumers under age 40 are highly interested in building their own food and beverage products by making choices such as selecting ingredients and customizing flavor options, according to new data from HealthFocus International’s 2022 Global Trend Study."

veggie burger

©vaaseenaa/iStock/Getty Images Plus

veggie burger

©vaaseenaa/iStock/Getty Images Plus


Predicting plant-based meat’s potential

Although sales have slowed for some players in the plant-based meat market, consultancy Kearney sees good potential for this sector. Consumers have become increasingly interested in plant-based meat as companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have redefined the category. In a new report, Kearney researchers look closely at the reasons for acceptance—or lack of acceptance—of plant-based meat among consumers and investors. One of the biggest hurdles is achieving price parity with regular animal proteins, they point out.

In Plant-Based Protein: Parity on the Horizon, researchers explain the four conditions that need to be in place before the market can reach its full potential. They include profitability up and down the supply chain, price, taste, and consumer acceptance.

The new research and analysis found that plant-based meat alternatives are highly elastic. For example, a 1% decrease in price would yield a 3% increase in market share. Such an increase would have a significant impact on the traditional animal proteins market.

Kearney analysts also found that once plant-based proteins reach price parity with animal proteins, the animal protein market is projected to lose more than 10% of its current market share.

IFT Board of Directors 2022
IFT Board of Directors 2022


IFT announces leadership election results

The IFT Board of Directors is composed of a dedicated group of leaders who generously contribute their time and expertise to further the advancement of IFT’s members, the profession, and the science of food. Congratulations to the following individuals, who have been elected as IFT leaders and will take office on Sept. 1, 2022: President-Elect Sean Leighton, Global VP, Food Safety, Quality & Regulatory Affairs, Cargill, Wayzata, Minn.; Board of Directors members Stephanie Jung, Professor and Department Head, Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo, Calif.; Joseph Light, Founder and President, Food Loving Ventures, Somerset, N.J.; Julie Emsing Mann, Chief Innovation Officer, PURIS Holdings, Minneapolis; Martha Montoya, CEO, Agtools, Irvine, Calif.

Recognizing IFT’s 50-year members

The following individuals are celebrating their 50th anniversary as members of IFT: Patrick Adams, Jeffrey Barach, Jacqueline Beckley, Ross Brown Jr., Robert Butcher, Sherman Carlson, Philip Crandall, John Doisy, Barry Eddy, John Eterno, Robert Farmer, Frank Farr, Felix Germino, Ralph Glover, Frido Hamann, Connie Honeywell, Fu-Hung Hsieh, Wayne Iwaoka, Roger Keefe, John Kilpatrick, John Krochta, Henry Leung, Georgette McAuley, Richard McDonald, Joseph Sebranek, Joseph Slawek, Robert Smith, Alfredo Vitali, and Wilfred Wells.

University of Arkansas Professor Philip Crandall joined IFT as a graduate student at Purdue and says the organization has played a memorable role throughout his career, including serving as a student representative at the international IFT meeting in Ireland in 1972 and interviewing for his first job at the IFT annual event in 1974. “I deeply enjoyed attending the IFT national meetings around the country with my family, who have a warm spot in their hearts for the good times we shared together at IFT,” Crandall says. “I am grateful that IFT gave me an opportunity to serve my profession, making presentations, chairing seminars, leading state organizations, and attending my graduate students’ presentations.”

Similarly, Wayne Iwaoka, professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, says IFT has made a tremendous difference in his professional life. “Having the opportunity to serve on different IFT committees and task forces over the past 50 years, I got to know other food scientists and food science educators who made my professional career all the more rewarding by having conversations with them on critical issues in food science research and education,” he says.

Joseph Slawek started his career at Food Materials Corporation in Chicago and later founded Fona International. Throughout his career, the IFT annual event and expo was “a center point of our marketing efforts,” he says, and he always encouraged employees to get involved with the organization. “Today I am still involved in the food industry, and I am proud of my association with IFT.”

Robert Butcher, group operations manager, Ipswich Shellfish Group, first joined IFT as a student pursuing an associate degree in food technology, and he maintained his membership while pursuing a BS, MBA, and through many years working in the food industry. “IFT has been a source of consistent, relevant information and a way to connect with like-minded individuals,” Butcher says. “I have met many lifelong friends and associates thanks to the IFT local chapters.”

IFT thanks all of these valued members for their support.

About the Author

Nancy Mann Jackson is a freelance writer based in Huntsville, AL ([email protected])