The nowadays consumer increasingly seeks to find pleasure in food. Therefore it gives priority to healthy and pleasurable products, which cover certain dietetic needs or provoke specific sensations linked to taste, texture and pleasure without compromising enjoyment. Heathy food which tastes great: “Food to feel good about”, is what the consumer seeks.

Food enjoyment without guilt is the claim of the new brands that are trying to conquer two new types of consumer groups: 1) the hedonist consumer. This consumer looks for food, which will not necessarily satisfy its hunger -a need- but instead calm its appetite -a desire- that will unleash a unique experience. And 2) the conscious consumer. Aware both of his health and of the sustainability of his environment. This consumer cares about what he eats in his diet and the impact he produces in his environment. But without compromising taste and enjoyment/pleasure. They claim for a balanced lifestyle.

Beatriz Pérez, from the department of New Products of AINIA, the Spanish leading technology centre for food development, points out that the food industry seeks to find new technologic options to compensate the sensory impairments from certain products. This industry is also constantly working in the combination of textures that will make the food more pleasant.

Moreover, according to Perez, nowadays consumers are more aware that the consequences of a healthy diet directly affect to their wellbeing and to the appearance of illnesses. Therefore, the consumer looks for products that contain natural or functional ingredients, which are “healthier and have a hedonic component”.

Biscuits containing natural antioxidants coming from grapes, natural sweeteners from fruit extracts or chocolate manufactured out of fruit pellets and natural aromas are some of the innovative concepts presented in the workshop organised by AINIA “New uses of natural ingredients in the food industry: hedonism and health”.

The consumer panel made by Consumolab last summer points out that 97,3% of the surveyed people consider taste as one of the decisive elements to have in mind at the time of choosing the food they consume.

In fact, according to those sources, only nine percent of the food consumed doesn’t entail a pleasure or convenience connotation. It isn’t even related to the way in how we feel when we eat it.

The concepts “food hedonism” and “health” are progressively being linked. Consumers have a bigger preference for products that are labelled as “…free from…” or “…reduced on..” on salt, gluten, fat, lactose or sugar.

Between these consumers trends we can also find concepts such as “Indulgence and Health” that have led to the development of new ingredients that offer healthier alternatives at the same time as they work as an excuse to indulge a whim.

According to AINIA we can find some of these examples in functional candies; sweets with vitamin C; chocolate with fat-free cocoa, which are purer and are rich in calcium, and the appearance of flavoured waters.

Furthermore, the interest on natural things and in “going back to basics” has led to a preference for “flexitarian” or “part time vegetarian” diets, due to the discovery of new sources of protein such as seaweeds, funghi, peas and soybeans.

A pragmatic example of these tendencies for the Industry has just taken place in the big Food Fair of Alimentaria in Barcelona at the end of april, where for the first time in its 40 years of celebration, a special section of the pabillions was dedicated to “Healthy Food”.
In this special area the 150.000 visitors have been able to get in contact with the above mentioned concepts and tendencies deployed in more than 200 stands where innovative companies have show tested their new products and ingredients.

As to the availability for shopping these kind of products, we are observing the impressively quick development of Healthy Food Chains such as Herbolario Navarro, Natura Si, Super Sano, etc. with more than 100 shops spread across the main cities. Not to forget about the reorganization of the big retailers main stores to accommodate new aisles with these offerings.