2016's most innovative products

February 22, 2017
4 min read

From soy, vegan frozen spinach and prosecco flavoured crisps to apple cider from the 17th century and pasta boxes made from food waste, 2016 saw a number of innovative approaches to new food and drink product development around the world. Here, Mintel Directors of Innovation and Insight, Lynn Dornblaser and David Jago, have selected 12, including details on why these products stand out. 

Sir Kensington’s Fabanaise Vegan Mayo

Sir Kensington’s Fabanaise Vegan Mayo, USA

This is the first commercial product we have seen that is made using aquafaba, which is the liquid drained from canned or cooked chickpeas. Aquafaba behaves like egg whites, making it a new, important ingredient for the marketplace, especially for vegans.

Iglo Spinach with Alpro Soy Drink

Iglo Spinach with Alpro Soy Drink, Germany

While we have seen a number of frozen creamed spinach products on the market in a range of countries, this is the first one that uses soy milk rather than dairy-based milk, tapping into the trend for more plant-based foods and especially the importance of the vegan claim in Germany.

Evian Fruits & Plantes Grape and Rose Flavoured Alpine Water

Evian Fruits & Plantes Grape and Rose Flavoured Alpine Water, Switzerland

Evian is known for its premium, still and plain bottled water, so it is surprising to see Evian expanding into flavoured varieties that use combinations of fruits and plants (ie botanicals).

Dubo Food Apple Flavoured Overnight Oatmeal

Dubo Food Apple Flavoured Overnight Oatmeal, Korea

Overnight oats, where consumers mix up oats and liquid (usually dairy), plus nuts, seeds or other functional ingredients, has been growing in recipes in many countries. This company offers a highly convenient version that can be prepared and eaten straight from the pack.

Graze Dark Chocolate Cherry Tart Snack Mix

Graze Dark Chocolate Cherry Tart Snack Mix, UK

Graze originally was sold only by mail order in the US and UK markets as a way to get hand-selected snacks directly to consumers and to serve as important market research on consumer preferences. Now, in the UK market, Graze is available in supermarkets in a variety of combinations, all promoting simple, wholesome nutrition.

Guinness Nitro IPA Beer

Guinness Nitro IPA Beer, USA

Nitro beer has become a trend among US craft brewers in recent years, but has generally been sold on tap in on-premise venues. Guinness is one of the first major brewers to offer a Nitro version, delivered via a “widget” in the can, a technology first invented by Diageo back in the 1980s.

Marks & Spencer The Collection Fizz & Sparkle Winter Berries & Prosecco Hand Cooked Crisps

Marks & Spencer The Collection Fizz & Sparkle Winter Berries & Prosecco Hand Cooked Crisps, UK

This is a unique combination of flavours and sensations, introduced for the 2016 holidays. The UK retailer’s crisps are flavoured with prosecco (so, a sweet and salty taste) and also are dusted with tiny edible gold stars that are similar to popping candy, giving a bit of a fizzy sensation in the mouth.

Kraft Classic Ranch Dressing

Kraft Classic Ranch Dressing, USA

Sometimes innovation can be just about a package change. Here, Kraft packed several of its popular salad dressing flavours in flexible stand-up pouches that each have two servings. They are specifically for taking with a made-at-home salad.

Waitrose Love Life Red Lentil Pasta

Waitrose Love Life Red Lentil Pasta, UK

While pasta made from red lentils is relatively new and unique, it is the package that stands out. Here, the box is made from a combination of new board, recycled board and food waste. In fact, the food waste is a by-product of making the pasta.

Mondelez Nabisco Oreo Thins Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Mondelez Nabisco Oreo Thins Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, USA

“Thin” is in across a range of categories — we have seen a number of companies offer thinner versions of their existing products, typically positioned (if subtly) as a ‘lighter’ treat. Oreo Thins was one of the first from a large company and has done extremely well in the market. Its success likely is influenced by how well it delivers on the iconic Oreo taste experience.

Kraft Heinz’s Lunchables Uploaded BBQ Chicken Walking Taco Heat + Eat Snack

Kraft Heinz’s Lunchables Uploaded BBQ Chicken Walking Taco Heat + Eat Snack, USA

Usually, it is smaller companies that take a page from street food for new flavours and formats. Kraft Heinz was one of the first large companies to offer street food in a mass-market format, here as a “walking taco” under the Lunchables brand. In addition, the product does double duty as a meal or a snack.

Up Mountain Switchel Lemon American Heritage Beverage

Up Mountain Switchel Lemon American Heritage Beverage, USA

As consumers look to the past for products with a stamp of authenticity, products once only known of regionally have become more widespread. Switchel is an apple cider-based drink with its roots in the 17th century, intended for outdoor labourers. Now, it is positioned as a natural refreshment beverage.

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