LONDON — Tate & Lyle PLC has unveiled six trends that will shape innovation in food and beverage product formulation. They are transparency, plant-based, sugar reduction, gut health, convenience and better-for-you snacking.

“By understanding how values, behaviors and appetites are changing, and the drivers behind these shifts, food and beverage brands can launch products that meet the needs of consumers today and better anticipate how these will evolve,” said Beth Nieman Hacker, market research director at London-based Tate & Lyle.

Transparency refers to consumers wanting to know the source of the ingredients in products. Food companies should communicate how the products are made, according to Tate & Lyle. Proprietary research from Tate & Lyle in 2020 showed 84% of consumers globally always or sometimes read ingredient labels.

Consumers are drawn to plant-based items because of the positive health outcomes and environmental impacts associated with the category, according to Tate & Lyle, which cited Mintel Global New Products Database showing 8% of all food and drink product launches globally in 2020 were plant-based.

While consumers want to reduce sugar consumption, they also still want a great taste experience. Fibers, sweeteners, specialty starches and stabilizers all may be used to keep in taste while reducing sugar, according to Tate & Lyle. Nine percent of all food and drink launches in 2020 had no/low/reduced sugar/calorie claims, according to Mintel GNPD.

Fiber supports gut health, but a Tate & Lyle global consumer study in 2020 found 75% of global consumers said they do not eat or drink products that contain fiber daily. When asked why not, 34% said they feel they get enough fiber, 34% said products that contain fiber are too expensive and 22% said they feel not enough products contain fiber.

Consumers are connected digitally but do not have much free time, making convenience a higher priority. This trend could present formulation challenges for manufacturers. Tate & Lyle cited 2020 information from GlobalData Trends Sight showing 83% of global consumers are influenced in their purchasing by how well a product or service aligns with their time and money constraints while 91% said they were interested in products that save them time and effort.

Snacking has become an important meal occasion at the same time consumers are prioritizing health. Mintel data show 72% of global consumers are willing to pay more for snacks with healthier ingredients.