The Double-Edged Sword of Natural

The Double-Edged Sword of Natural

Since the dawn of man, we’ve been obsessed with food, and if you need evidence in this day and age, look no further than a millennial’s Instagram. Food has and will always be a means of survival, but for many, foods role has evolved from sustenance to enjoyment. Prominent trends such as Transparency, Veganism, Mindfulness, Freshness are at the forefront. One Master Trend overrules them all simplicity in food. We all win… Or do we? We’re in a race to the bottom of an ingredient list. We are removing as much over-processing as possible. These are all good things, but… In the process, an important equity has been lost – taste differentiation. Which is something Big Food always benefitted from.     And for decades, Big Food has built brands on the pleasure of taste… irreproducible, proprietary, unnatural but ultimately delicious taste. A locavore or organictarian, with a gun to its head, would choose an Oreo over a private label knockoff, no questions asked. A Dorito over a cheese flavored tortilla chip. A Coke over cola. Intensive food science, heavy processing and laboratories that double as “kitchens” gave way to these patented, competitive brand advantages. These fabricated flavors turned products into household names, and ultimately billion-dollar brands. Yet the same practice that built Big Food up, is now responsible for its demise and vilification. Less Ingredients + Less Processing + Less Engineering = Commodities. So the natural foods industry is now faced with answering the tough question of how do you democratize natural food without falling victim to the dreaded C-word; commoditization? How do you build a meaningful brand without the type of flavor differentiation Big Food benefitted...
Trends Spotted in the Netherlands

Trends Spotted in the Netherlands

Ever wonder what the inside of a shop inside Amsterdam looks like? Now you can get a little taste! Our intern Sydney took a trip to the Netherlands recently, and she took some snaps of awesome packaging that she saw. Here are a couple trends she spotted abroad. JUST ADD ______   There were a lot of pre-packaged goods that combined ingredients for ready made drinks and snacks. Teas with sweetener loaded onto a spoon waiting to be mixed into a cup of hot water were a favorite. “Festival in a Bottle” was an innovative way to add some excitement to a plain bottle of liquor with dehydrated fruits and spices. And for a delightfully simple mix-it-yourself refreshment, there were kits that included everything you’d need for a fresh gin & tonic.     QUITE THE CHARACTER The Dutch are embracing bright and bold colors, in contrast the modern packaging we typically see in the States. These eye-catching hues were seen in shelves all over stores. There were chocolate bars that sported vibrant, contrasting patterns that worked together in perfect chaos. In addition, there were a lot of whimsical illustrations and characters – even in products that aren’t necessarily marketed toward children. The shifty eyes on bottles of Karma Kombucha couldn’t be ignored when walking past the refrigerated section!      IN THE SPIRIT OF TRANSPARENCY One trend that’s clearly a hit across cultures is transparency – both in the literal, visual execution of packaging solutions, but also in the key messaging that brands are sending. The desire to eat “clean” has spurred a movement that pushes companies to lay everything out on the table – particularly ingredients. It...
Interact Category Specialists: Cereal & Granola

Interact Category Specialists: Cereal & Granola

Just when consumers are beginning to feel they have seen it all in the cereal and granola world, brands, as well as celebrity chefs, are coming out with new ways to flip the category on it’s head. Certain brands are making strides toward healthier options, ingredient transparency and the use of food byproducts as part of their formulations, while others are actually amplifying these traditional breakfast foods to be more indulgent than ever. (Kashi) TRANSPARENCY Cereal and granola don’t have the best reputation when it comes to a clean ingredient list, especially relating to sugar content. However, brands such as Kashi, and RX Bar are on a mission to prove that they aren’t afraid to show what their products are made of. In a recent redesign, Kashi decided to use close-up photos of their cereal and granola bars on their boxes to show how real their products are. Additionally, their granola bars are wrapped in a clear sleeve so the individual ingredients can be seen through the window on the front of the box. Aside from visually highlighting the product to relay ingredient transparency, boldly listing the individual ingredients can instill confidence in consumers that they can trust what they are eating. RX Bar utilizes a straightforward list of ingredients on their packaging to show consumers how clean and simple their products are. The last line of every list states “No B.S.”, which is one additional way of communicating their clean formulation.   (Regrained) FOOD BY-PRODUCTS As the concern surrounding food waste continues to grow, a few young brands have begun to play their part in utilizing food byproducts...
The Growth of Nut and Seed Butters

The Growth of Nut and Seed Butters

Peanut butter is a classic protein packed snack that’s versatile enough to be combined with just about anything. For a long time, it was the only kind of nut butter that people knew of. With constantly evolving consumer dietary needs, we’ve seen a boom in “butters” made from all kinds of different nuts and seeds. Here are a few aspects of this growing category that brands are taking into account: Source PRESENTATION The demand for peanut butter alternatives has resulted in an influx of “butters” made from ground almonds, cashews, pistachios and more. Often at a higher price point, it is common to see companies touting the healthy benefits of their product. Nutraw’s pistachio butter features packaging that is more elevated than what you might associate with a typical peanut butter jar, reflecting the minimal ingredients (stripped down to just pistachios, coconut oil and vanilla). Similarly, butters are increasingly being made from seeds – even ones you may not have ever thought to eat. Sunflower and pumpkin seed butters have been heralded as friendly options for consumers with nut allergies. Watermelon seed butter is unconventional yet intriguing. Sakara’s version appeals to consumers based on its aesthetic alone. The cream colored product is complemented by equally clean packaging, suggesting its simplicity and quality. Source INCLUSIONS Inclusions and unique flavors set brands apart in this ever growing category. Sesame seed butter is traditionally known as tahini, a main ingredient in hummus, but it’s making its way more and more into the butter category. Ilka’s Chai Sesame Butter appeals to create a more memorable and unique experience when spread over toast or fruit. Big Spoon Roasters also offer various nut butter flavors, like Espresso and Vanilla...
Organic Snacking Reaches New Heights

Organic Snacking Reaches New Heights

Organic is a term synonymous with fresh, high quality foods that are free of harmful additives. Over the last twenty years, the consumer demand for organic foods has steadily increased, and thus the range of available options has grown exponentially. In fact, it’s one of the fastest growing segments of the food industry, with sales growing from $3.7 billion in 1997 to more than $43 billion in 2015, according to a recent report by the The Environmental Working Group. The fresh food spaces like dairy and produce have contributed quite a bit to this, because they are staples we can easily imagine making that “farm to table” transition. Yet, one of the most highly demanded organic categories right now is snacks. Lots of on-the-go snacking options are highly processed – the ingredients required to preserve, color and flavor them are often a far cry from natural, let alone organic. However, busy lifestyles with a health conscious mindset have set the desire for quick and healthy food options at an all time high.   Ahead of the Game The organic snacking movement gained a lot of its momentum in the form of small companies with big personalities, often breaking away from their conventional competitors with unique offerings.  There continues to be a huge space for these types of brands. Hippeas are satisfyingly crunchy and savory snack featuring an unconventional chief ingredient: chickpeas. Similarly, Barnana pushes boundaries with good-for-you indulgence in the form of “upcycled bananas”. Both are focused on sustainability and conscious eating. By consistently finding ways to bring unique options to the table, companies are keeping organic as fresh...
Trend Watch // Healthy Rainbow Food

Trend Watch // Healthy Rainbow Food

There’s something magical about adding some vibrant color to the foods we eat every day. Though we may now realize that artificially colored and sugar packed cereals are not the greatest choice for breakfast, we can still choose health conscious options with a little whimsy sprinkled in. Enter Vibrant and Pure’s Unicorn Toast. At first glance, it’s a slice of bread adorned by food colored cream cheese applied in a dreamy, painterly fashion. Upon learning more, we find out that those colors are derived from natural ingredients, like beets, tumeric and chlorophyll. These combinations of ingredients might not sound appealing by the sound, but it is truly a treat to look at. The End in Brooklyn, New York is serving up unicorn “lattes” – colorful concoctions that give a natural and healthy energy boost. These drinks get their beautiful blue hue from spirulina extract, which is known for its health-giving phytonutrients that stimulate the body and mind. While being vegan-friendly and containing nutritional powerhouses, these drinks have some serious appeal Is this simply a passing food fad, or is it the start of a long lasting trend? We could see this spilling over into the cold pressed category, and definitely the healthy snacking spaces for kids and adults alike. What do you think? Email us at blake@interactonshelf.com   Cover image source: Vibrant and...