“Texture is moving to the forefront as the next hot mega-trend,” according to Trends Forecaster Dr Elizabeth Sloan, of Sloan Trends Incorporated.
Marketplace developments suggest consumers – and product developers – are becoming very focussed on texture. According to Mintel, there has been a 42% increase in new products with texture claims in Europe, Middle East and Africa between 2011 and 2016.
According to Sloan, the texture movement started around 2010 when the number of best-selling new products carrying a texture claim doubled for the first time in history – and it’s still growing.
Why is this trend growing?
- ‘Fresh’ products are now very important to consumers, and the texture of a product can confirm how real or how processed it is, such as how pulpy a consumer’s freshly-squeezed orange juice is.
- With over 100,000 new products entering the market in Europe in the past year(1) and an ever-increasing choice – shoppers can now use texture to decide which item matches their taste preferences specifically. A consumer will now buy based on whether a cookie is soft and chewy or hard and crisp.
- Natural, clean and simple products are an important aspect to this trend. Sloan says that nine in 10 consumers prefer to ‘get benefits’ naturally from foods. That means there will be more opportunities for natural products that help to improve the texture of products such as nuts, fruit pieces, whole grains, and natural thickeners.
- Texture has enormous appeal to foodies, who are now going well beyond flavour as they seek to find more adventure and excitement in foods. The number of foodies is growing, especially in the UK where the number of independent retailers has soared year on year, rising by 110% in the past five years according to new sector analysis.
With this mega-trend gaining momentum, product designers are striving to create products that can give the desired creaminess or smoothness in products such as their yoghurts or desserts. According to Mintel 51% more products with such texture claims in these products were released in Europe in the second two quarters of 2016 compared to the first two quarters.
How to meet texture trends
Texture and technology allow manufacturers to create entirely new product forms, and in dairy, texture is particularly crucial. According to Mintel, texture is the third top claim in desserts, beating ‘gluten-free’.
Healthy or not, consumers are still looking for indulgence in such products and there’s no better way to do that than touting a rich, creamy texture.
Starches and texturisers can help improve certain types of texture and sensory characteristics of yoghurts, candies, chocolate, vegetarian meat alternatives and many other foods.
These texturising ingredients can be used to change the characteristics such as the crunchiness of crisps or the creaminess of sour cream. Whichever texture a manufacturer creates, it has to remain consistent over shelf life.
Companies can have a scientific approach to texture and can analyse the effects of replacing ingredients from an original recipe with texturising agents, such as starches. Manufacturers can also achieve a range of textures to suit their needs with different solutions.
Texture preferences may also vary depending on the food product. Therefore, companies are constantly striving to improve and renovate food products and be looking for new ways to differentiate themselves.
While the sensory spotlight often falls on flavour when we’re savouring a mouthful, get the texture wrong and its game over – we’ll reject it outright. You can find out more about how texture and eating styles affect our decision making in our new report.
Did you know?
You can find out exactly what texture preference matches your consumers to make your products stand out to them on store shelves. Find out more
(1)Mintel GNPD: Europe Q2 2016-Q2 2017