New year, old challenges photoEvery beginning of year brings a mood of renovation. But 2013 began like 2012 did not end. Most of the companies seem to keep the same path of the previous year, reflected in two purposes: to recover the losses of the last years and to increase the results in the next five years. But there is a great difference in behavior and mentality: targets are based in a new macro economy forecast and not anymore in certain amazing results collected, basically, in promising countries like Brazil and China. After all, even for these countries the results are not anymore a “fairytale”!

According to a recent study from Innova Market Insights, besides all the results´ expectations, especially US food industries are also facing regulatory challenges over “natural” product claims. Its annual Top Trends study has included the emergence of interest in naturalness and sustainability and the return to softer claims. But two main trends appear: the “aware shopper” and the “health traffic jam”.

The Aware Shopper is defined by a consumer more informed and knowledgeable about value and health and that is increasingly influencing the market. This influence is supported by mounting pressure from lobby groups, NGOs and celebrities, calling for transparency, credibility and accountability for the industry. Meanwhile, social-media-driven campaigns are also make companies more susceptible to negative publicity.

The Health Traffic Jam is caused by a lack of innovation in functional foods as a result from the December 2012 deadline for the removal of EU non-approved claims from packaging labels. Companies are focusing on switching marketing messages behind approved claims, with a greater emphasis on the inherent benefits of certain foods and ingredients and a longer term investment in future personalized nutrition products.

Of course it is a more “regional” movement, but if we consider the number of exported items from Europe all over the world, for sure it will have an impact in other regions.

Innova Market Insights also identified other trends like: gray but healthy; just say “No”; “natural” cracks emerge; protein overdrive; beating the sugar demon; sensory experience; more with less; and interest at the extremes. If packaging is the best – and sometimes the only and cheapest –communication vehicle of products and brands with consumers, no doubts these food trends will influence directly the future projects.

So the year can be new, but the challenges will continue the same. Maybe with a different approach. The fact is that good packaging will continue being the one that offers both the end user and the consumer a good cost relation, fulfill all its expectations and be total aligned with the profile of this neo consumer. The differentiation will be made by the resources and technology each company will use; and the technology will prove to be better if it offers more with less. That is, no doubt, the biggest forever trend.