Digging into the Top Food and Beverage Trends from IFT19

As food ingredient marketers, we love exploring the latest industry trends — and there’s no better place to do that than at IFT’s Annual Event and Food Expo, which took place this year in New Orleans. As one of the largest events in the industry, IFT brings together experts in the industry to share the latest insights and innovations. I was thrilled to join our team at the show and explore the hottest trends at IFT19.

Below are five of the top trends that we came across in The Big Easy. 

Cannabidiol Cuisine

Offering claims of reduced anxiety, better sleep and pain relief, cannabidiol (CBD) has quickly made its mark in the health and beauty industry, but it is also becoming a hot topic in the food and beverage industry. CBD was all the buzz at IFT this year, with several exhibitors sampling CBD-infused food and beverage products. The Colorado grain-based food and specialty oil company, Panhandle Milling, took advantage of the opportunity to promote its CBD oil-processing capabilities with food and beverage suppliers and other attendees through strategic, CBD-focused booth messaging and product samples. As consumer interest in the hemp and CBD oil market continues to grow, this is one area where we will likely see new opportunities and innovation.

Fearless Flavors

Bold flavors were a natural fit, with IFT19 being in New Orleans this year. From Cajun to Creole, there’s no shortage of excitement regarding local fare — and several companies leveraged this with their featured applications. Kalsec emphasized that its experts not only understand heat, but they also know how to manage it. The company’s booth showcased its heat portfolio with a fun, tasty and interactive heat puzzle for booth attendees. Hormel Ingredient Solutions, the new unified team of experts from Burke Corporation and Hormel Ingredients, also showcased its bold creations with sweet chorizo bites and Italian sausage pizza. The chorizo bites were a nice change of pace from the all-too-common Cajun dishes available throughout the show, while the bite-size pizzas provided handheld slices of heaven

Functional Foods

As consumers continue to see greater functionality from food and beverage products, we’re starting to see more better-for-you options popping up everywhere, including at IFT19. This year’s show featured everything from vegan ice cream made with nuts and coconut to pizza crust formulated with cauliflower to meat-free burgers made with fiber-rich pulses and ancient grains. DSM even gave away Blue Light Protection TechShield™ Gummies, which are formulated to protect eyes from blue light that can be emitted from electronic devices like computers, tablets and smartphones.

Plant-based Products

As many predicted, plant-based ingredients were a hot category again this year at IFT. Everywhere we looked, we saw applications made with ingredients derived from plant-based sources, such as legumes, nuts, grains, fruits, vegetables and seeds. These ingredients have become increasingly popular as consumers continue to seek suitable replacements for animal-derived ingredients. Kerry’s plant-based breakfast sandwich, which was made with plant-based breakfast sausage and a clean-label croissant, was one of the first plant-based applications that we tried at the show. Several companies also sampled plant-based macaroni and cheese. Some even spiced up their creations with the world-renowned Creole and Cajun flavors that are most notably associated with New Orleans. The Annex by Ardent Mills’ sampling menu included IQF Mixed Grain Jambalaya, Ancient Grain Boudin and Ancient Grain Gumbo

Scaled-down Sodium and Sugar Content­­

If you know our team, you know we have love donuts … but like many consumers today, we also care about our health, so we were thrilled to see several companies sampling donuts (and other sweet treats) made with alternative and plant-based sweeteners. The Ingredient House presented its Low Sugar Cookie with Prebiotic Fiber Gofos (short-chain fructo-oligosaccharide), a sweet soluble fiber that allows food manufacturers to produce healthier, sugar-reduced and fiber-rich products. Likewise, Jungbunzlauer sampled Keto-diet-friendly cookies made with its sugar replacement and sodium-reduction solutions.

Of course, these were only a few of the unique and creative innovations at IFT19. What food ingredients or trends caught your attention? Comment below to share your thoughts. (For tips on preparing for your next food industry trade show, download our Trade Show Best Practices report.)