The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) gathered in New Orleans from June 21-24 to learn about innovative new food and beverage products launched around the world. Mintel, the global leader in market and consumer intelligence, hosted the Ingredients & Innovation Zone, complete with innovative product tastings and presentations highlighting the latest trends in the food, drink and foodservice industries.

During each session, Mintel’s renowned new product experts, Lynn Dornblaser, and David Jago presented on the topics of How Sweet is Sweet Enough?, “Clean Label” is the New Natural and Fighting Fatigue with Energy Claims.

Attendees at the Mintel presentations and tastings were asked to vote on their favorite products in each category and their results include:

When discussing How Sweet is Sweet Enough, presenters highlighted the fact that consumers aren’t afraid of sugar; they are afraid of too much sugar. Companies are addressing this “sweet” concern by shifting many of their products to lower-sugar formulations–some covertly, others front-of-pack. Califia Farms Pure Iced Mocha Coffee was the clear winner with the attendees citing the enticing flavor profile of the almond milk. Pepsi Next Cola Flavored Beverage and Jupik Apple Drink ,which touts a natural sweetener derived from stevia leaves, were ranked second and third, respectively.

And in the “clean label” category, Valio Jogurtti Clean Label Natural Yogurt led the pack, featuring the claim both front of pack, and in the brand’s name. The term “natural” has recently come under fire from the industry, government, and consumers. As a result, the food industry has introduced new and different descriptors to talk about natural values in the market–namely, “clean label.” There was a two-way tie for second place–Dolmio Stir-In Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce for Pasta and Dare Simple Pleasures Cinnamon Snaps, while Michel & Augustin Petits Sablés Piment Doux et Oignons Grilles (Pepper & Grilled Onions Flavoured Shortbread Biscuits) came in a close third.

In the third and final presentation, Fighting Fatigue with Energy Claims, Sealand Birk Raspberry Flavour Organic Birch Tree Juice clinched first place with its natural energy boosting properties. Second place was claimed by Nabisco Belvita Soft Baked Banana Bread Breakfast Biscuits while Post Honey Bunches of Oats Morning Energy Chocolatey Almond Crunch Whole Grain Cereal came in third. These products exemplify thatf talk of energy benefits have moved beyond the quick boost of an energy drink or a cup of coffee, and energy attributes and functional ingredients are now found in a far wider variety of products than merely beverages.

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