Meat companies need to keep innovation simple if they want to tap into the growing demand for new product development within the consumer base.
According to Lynn Dornblaser from Mintel, there are a number of key trends that the meat sector should be taking advantage of, ranging from increasing demand for healthier products, to effectively communicating environmental credentials beyond just providing recycled packaging.
Speaking at the International Production and Processing Expo in Atlanta this week, she told delegates the increasing trend towards private-label offered both challenges and opportunities for the sector, and urged anyone looking to see where the US market was heading to look to the UK. “Private-label is not going away, it’s growing and growing around the world, and it’s more interesting than branded products. The UK has the highest levels, and for anyone looking to see what’s going on in private label, there’s no better place to look for what lies ahead than the UK.”
Another key trend is in the health arena, and she highlighted the shift from “weight loss products to hunger management”. She said companies looking to market in this area needed to focus on “satiety” and products that offered consumers the option of being “fuller for longer”.
Green products needed to move beyond a focus just on recycling as well, she added: “We seem to only talk about the recycling of the packaging, yet there’s a lot more beyond that. Environmental issues can be confusing for consumers, and I would simply urge you to communicate, communicate, communicate – tell them what it is you do and why you do it, help them understand.”
She said the recession had actually increased product innovation as companies looked to put out attention-grabbing products, rather than investing in further “me too” launches, and another area for processors to focus on was flavours.
She said the consumer mindset was interested in experimenting, although she said this carried some limitations and warned companies not to be over-adventurous. “Consumers like to play with their food, and like to experiment, but they don’t like to go too far. There’s a big opportunity for the meat sector to experiment and I would urge you to look to the foodservice sector and niche markets for new ideas for your ranges.”