A foodservice wholesaler I was in contact with late last year said that in his business one of the surprises was the huge growth of gluten-free stuff. Of course, gluten-free products have been around for years but you know they have really hit the mainstream when big brands such as Hob Nobs embrace the trend. Another key trend from 2016 was alternatives to pasta such as courgetti and, according to a report in The Telegraph, we can expect to see edamame noodles, pea pasta and beetroot rice on shelves in certain stores this year. I'm not sure these will be mainstream enough for forecourts but you never know.
There were some big-brand launches in the US last year which may well find their way over here. PepsiCo's launch of premium bottled water brand LIFEWTR was reported on foodbusinessnews.net. Apparently it's a purified and PH balanced water with electrolytes for added taste. LIFEWTR's premium positioning is reinforced by its packaging as bottles feature art from emerging artists which, according to PepsiCo, "turn the traditional bottle label into a unique masterpiece". At the time of the US launch, the firm said it was keen to take the brand to consumers across the world.
Another mega launch in the US is that of M&M's Caramel which have the brand's hard candy shell with a gooey caramel centre. It might seem an obvious variety to launch given the popularity of caramel-filled chocolates, but it took some doing to develop the technology to combine the hard candy with the soft centre. And now that the boffins at Mars have done this, they promise more "exciting new innovations" filling-wise.
Other new products to look out for include Go Cubes coffee in chewable gummy form. The promotional material says 'Keep your coffee in your pocket instead of your cup". They contain 50mg of caffeine and come in mocha, pure drip and latte flavours but whether they can tempt hard-core drinkers away from their steaming mugs of coffee is another matter.