New Products

New U.S. food and beverage product introductions in retail outlets, as tracked by Mintel’s Global New Product Database (Mintel GNPD), have followed an upward trend since the late 1990s, exceeding those of nonfood grocery items since 2010.

New product introductions of consumer packaged goods, 1998-2016

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During the Great Recession of 2008-09, the number of new food and beverage products in retail outlets fell from 21,391 to 15,637, following a decline from the previous year-to-year period—from 22,142 in 2007 to 21,391 in 2008. The 2008-2009 decline marked the first consecutive year-to-year reduction in new food product introductions since 2000, and only the fourth such decline since 1998. New food and beverage product introductions have trended up since 2009, while nonfood grocery items have trended downward.

Consumers sought familiar products and avoided impulse buying during the Great Recession. To appeal to bargain-seeking customers who wanted to simplify their shopping trips as well as purchase familiar products, retailers reduced the number of products introduced; and, in response, some manufacturers reduced their product lines. However, in 2016, the number of new food and beverage products reached their highest level since 2007.

In 2016, food categories with the largest shares of overall new product introductions included beverages; snacks; bakery items; and sauces, dressings, and condiments. However, from 2011 to 2016, the share of new sauces, dressings, and condiments and beverage product introductions declined, while the share of new snack products increased. Changes in all other product categories were less than 1 percentage point.

New food and beverage product introductions, by product type, 2008-16*
 Product type 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
New products (number) 20,432 20,252 20,881 19,536 17,143 21,435
Beverages 19.9 20.7 22.2 21.6 22.4 18.5
Snacks 11.5 13.2 11.2 13.2 14.1 14.8
Bakery foods 12.5 11.8 10.3 11.6 11.6 12.6
Sauces, dressings, and condiments 10.1 8.6 10.0 7.6 9.0 9.0
Candy and gum 9.3 9.1 7.4 7.5 7.2 8.7
Dairy 6.7 6.7 7.0 8.2 7.2 7.2
Processed fish, meat, and egg products 5.6 5.5 5.9 6.2 5.8 6.3
Meals and entrees 6.3 6.6 6.3 5.9 4.9 5.6
Fruit and vegetables 2.4 2.6 3.4 3.4 2.6 3.2
Desserts and ice cream 3.9 4.1 4.1 3.2 4.1 3.2
Side dishes 3.3 3.3 3.4 3.3 2.8 3.1
Breakfast cereals 2.5 2.3 2.4 2.7 3.1 2.8
Sweet and savory spreads 3.5 2.9 2.6 2.3 2.5 2.7
Soup 1.3 1.1 1.8 1.5 1.2 1.2
Baby food 0.7 1.1 1.6 1.5 1.0 0.7
Sweeteners and sugar 0.4 0.5 0.3 0.3 0.5 0.3

*Percent of total.
Source: Mintel GNPD.

Advertisements touting a product's attributes are conveyed on packages and in supporting literature. Based on new product tags or claims (such as "organic") tracked by Mintel GNPD, over 70 U.S. food and beverage new product claims or tags were identified in 2016. Health and convenience-related attributes accounted for 7 of the top 10 claim categories, and these 7 claims accounted for over one-third of all new product claims. Three categories, including "kosher," "no additives/preservatives," and "microwaveable," have ranked among the top 10 claims in every year since 2005.

Number of new product introductions in the top 10 product claim categories for 2009-16
Tag or claim* 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Kosher 4,159 6,164 5,606 5,386 7,570 7,942 7,423 8,985
Low/no/reduced allergen 1,325 2,215 2,228 2,250 3,930 4,828 4,914 6,552
Gluten free 1,121 1,942 1,994 2,000 3,609 4,550 4,534 6,123
Ethical-environmentally-friendly package 1,329 2,892 2,806 2,903 4,254 4,268 4,239 5,056
No additives/preservatives 2,068 2,993 2,647 2,524 3,544 3,549 3,471 4,591
Social media 1 3 0 808 2,118 2,599 2,871 3,994
GMO free 297 340 550 567 1,352 1,993 2,685 3,732
Organic 1,445 1,548 1,332 1,279 2,097 2,084 2,313 3,011
Microwaveable 1,724 2,279 1,827 1,706 2,531 2,530 1,749 2,287
Ease of use 903 1,610 1,319 1,401 2,133 2,062 1,700 2,287
Total new product claims 32,300 47,303 45,090 44,374 64,133 67,001 63,320 79,779

*A new product may have multiple tags or claims.
Source: Mintel GNPD.
Percent of new product introductions in the top 10 product claim categories for 2009-16
Tag or claim* 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Kosher 12.9 13.0 12.4 12.1 11.8 11.9 11.7 11.3
Low/no/reduced allergen 4.1 4.7 4.9 5.1 6.1 7.2 7.8 8.2
Gluten free 3.5 4.1 4.4 4.5 5.6 6.8 7.2 7.7
Ethical-environmentally-friendly package 4.1 6.1 6.2 6.5 6.6 6.4 6.7 6.3
No additives/preservatives 6.4 6.3 5.9 5.7 5.5 5.3 5.5 5.8
Social media 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.8 3.3 3.9 4.5 5.0
GMO free 0.9 0.7 1.2 1.3 2.1 3.0 4.2 4.7
Organic 4.5 3.3 3.0 2.9 3.3 3.1 3.7 3.8
Microwaveable 5.3 4.8 4.1 3.8 3.9 3.8 2.8 2.9
Ease of use 2.8 3.4 2.9 3.2 3.3 3.1 2.7 2.9

*A new product may have multiple tags or claims.
Source: Mintel GNPD.

In 2016, "ease of use" claims replaced "natural" products in the top 10 claim categories. Products with "ease of use" claims include those marketed as easy or quick to prepare. "Natural" claims ranked among the top 10 claims from 2005 to 2015, while "ease of use" re-entered the top 10 after maintaining a top-10 ranking from 2012 to 2014. "Genetically modified organism (GMO)-free" claims ranked among the top 10 claims for the first time in 2015. In 2016, 3,732 "GMO-free" products were introduced, compared with 1,993 in 2014, 576 in 2012, and 297 in 2009. This reflects consumers' concern about the possible effect of genetically-engineered (GM) food on their health, although many diets contain GM food ingredients. "Organic" product claims have been among the top 10 claim categories since 2005, except in the years 2010 and 2011.

Products bearing logos that promote a company’s social media site (for example, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram) reached the top 10 claims for the first time in 2013, an increase of over 160 percent from 2012. Promoting new products using social media platforms was practically nonexistent before 2012. In 2016, products with social media logos increased 39 percent over the previous year (2015) and ranked sixth among all new product claims, accounting for 5.0 percent of new product launches. This suggests that more food companies deem networking and promoting their products and business via social media to be an essential component of their overall marketing strategy. Social media platforms are quickly overtaking traditional media formats such as print and TV ads, brochures, flyers, and email campaigns. A number of advantages to using social media include lower cost, minimal effort, increased opportunities to interact with customers in real-time, global coverage, adaptability, and ability to measure impact. Food companies are now putting QR (Quick Response) codes on products so that consumers can access the company website or online services with their smart phones. Companies may use QR codes to facilitate consumer interaction with products by linking the code to product information, such as the presence of GMOs.

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Last updated: Wednesday, April 05, 2017

For more information contact: Stephen Martinez

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