“A Star is Born” is one of the Innova Market Insights top 10 trends for 2020, highlighting how the food industry continues to experiment with novel and unusual ingredients in order to move them into the mainstream. This trend is driven by rising consumer familiarity and acceptance of their roles and potential benefits.

On the ingredients front, some are relatively slow to emerge, as exemplified by prebiotics, which have been around for many years, but only relatively recently started to move into the mainstream. Innova Market Insights reports a 20% global growth for food and beverage launches with prebiotics in 2018 versus 2017 and a further rise of over 13% for 2019. Prebiotics are featured in a range of food and drink launches, including oat cereals in the United States and the United Kingdom, soft drinks in Australia, and confectionery in China.

At the other end of the scale, one of the most high-profile ingredients in recent months has been the relative newcomer cannabis/CBD (cannabidiol), which Innova believes has “high potential as a disruptor.” Consumers are getting more familiar with CBD, giving companies the potential to make products featuring it. They are also increasingly aware of its benefits, with a 2019 Innova consumer survey naming pain relief, reducing anxiety/distress, and promoting relaxation as the top three benefits of cannabis/CBD ingredients. This has led to new product launches such as mood-uplifting chocolate, relaxation tea, sleep aid gummies, and nootropic bars.

Furthermore, most consumers—59% globally—appear to be open to accepting cannabis/CBD as an ingredient. Acceptance rises to 71% in the United States and 85% in India. New product development was very modest until 2017 and then started to jump in 2018 before seeing exponential growth in 2019. This remains concentrated in North America and Western Europe, however, with these two regions accounting for 97% of the total.

Perhaps not surprisingly, supplements led CBD launches in 2019, with over half of the total recorded by Innova Market Insights. Today, however, new product development is evident across a range of food and drink products, led by soft drinks and confectionery.

Less familiar ingredients with low awareness but with strongly rising new product development include ashwagandha, the botanical herb best known for its role in traditional ayurvedic medicine. It has a wide variety of claimed benefits, with stress and anxiety reduction perhaps the best known. However, products with ashwagandha are most likely to be launched with an energy/alertness positioning. Launch numbers have risen sharply from a low base, accelerating further in 2019 with supplements and sports nutrition the leading applications. Innova reports that the number of food and beverage launches featuring ashwagandha tracked in the United States is three times higher than those reported in India, the herb’s country of origin. Its growth in popularity in the adaptogens arena is also driving activity, and the industry is likely to grow familiarity through more novel applications in accordance with consumer demands for products satisfying convenience and taste criteria.

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