Considering food through the lens of materials science might initially seem strange, but if you imagine food items as collections of gels, emulsions and foams, you can begin to see how the concepts of materials science could change how we prepare, store and improve our foods. Moreover, there are numerous structuring processes that go into the creation of foods and most companies desire that these processes will result in food that is standardized, safe and appealing for consumers. But food can be so much more than standard and appealing.

Our modern lifestyles keep us very busy. Between work, chores and spending quality time with family and friends, we aren’t left with much free time. In fact, I’d argue that we often try to streamline certain tasks to maximize what downtime we do have. For many people, preparing meals falls into that category. While I love to cook, I can certainly understand why other people would not. Food planning and preparation can take forever if you don’t enjoy the process. This attitude is why consumers are seeing more pre-packaged, fresh ready-made dinners and healthy-for-you, organic snacks in grocery stores. Ironically, one food category doesn’t seem to be enjoying the same amount of success: frozen food.

Move over kale and quinoa. Consumer demand for so-called superfoods has given way to another trend this year: authentic, traditional ethnic foods and flavors. Experts say that 2016 will be characterized by a growing interest in international cuisines, condiments and spices. There are a couple of factors that contribute to this trend. One is the sustained popularity of flavors like sriracha, the now-ubiquitous hot sauce from Thailand. As sriracha becomes a staple in households and even non-Asian restaurants across the US, food companies have begun searching for the next hot flavor trend, hoping to replicate its success.

We’ve previously discussed how Millennials have transformed the CPG, food and beverage markets. From an intense focus on sustainability and eco-friendliness to an interest in a wider range of flavors, this consumer demographic has more than proven the power of their buying dollars. Now, we’re seeing their preferences affect a specific corner of the food market: snack products. Because Millennials tend to live active, on-the-go lifestyles, they don’t necessarily have time to sit down for a big meal. Instead, they often graze by eating smaller portions more frequently throughout the day. The proliferation of conveniently packaged foods on grocery stores reflects this trend. Despite their influence, however, we cannot concentrate solely on Millennials. The Baby Boomer generation remains a significant consumer base, and their overall desire for healthy-for-you products has also reached the snack food category. When combined with the Millennial preference toward foods with natural ingredients, is it any surprise that we’re witnessing a growing demand for organic food and snack products?

I don’t know about other people but growing up, I thought yogurt was a weird, healthy version of ice cream. I eventually realized that’s not even remotely what yogurt is, but the association stuck with me for a long time, even after I’d incorporated it into my regular diet during high school. But isn’t it amazing how times have changed? Now, yogurt isn’t something that only people trying to lose weight or following a physical fitness program eat. It’s become one of the most dynamic food categories in recent years, evidenced by the marked growth in the yogurt market—in no small part thanks to the trendiness of Greek yogurt. Just imagine: in 2007, Greek yogurt made up only a tiny fraction of the yogurt market. Today, Greek yogurt makes up more than 50% of sales. Part of this has to do with the fact that yogurt has moved beyond a breakfast food.

Conventional wisdom says that Americans get more than enough protein in our diets. In fact, we’re often told that we consume too much protein. Recent studies, however, have shown us otherwise. Evidence suggests that we need to increase our protein intake for optimal health. The benefits provided by greater protein intake include improved muscle function and mobility as well as potentially preventing and treating chronic diseases. In addition to the possible benefits of boosting heart and digestive health, more protein also promotes satiety, which aids in weight maintenance. Could adding more protein to our diet help our ongoing battle against obesity?

For some time now, sugar has been considered the “bad boy” of the American diet, more related to poison than to any life-sustaining food ingredient. Importantly, what some scientists refer to it as “poison” specifically refers to added sugar and not the naturally occurring sugar that is present in fruit and milk. Regardless, eating too much sugar has been linked to a variety of issues such as obesity, cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes. But with sugar as the basis of what makes many foods taste so good, can we reasonably cut out sugar or stick to what many consider to be Spartan daily recommendations as provided by the American Heart Association?

The food and beverage industry is facing a crossroads. Thanks to the internet and increased access to information, today’s consumers have diversified into many subgroups, each wanting different things. Some want to sample exotic flavors that they learned about via social media. Others will only buy organic food and ingredients […]

Holding a bag, a person walks out of a store followed by drawn-out beeping sounds. Perhaps a cashier forgot to remove clothing tags on items the individual already purchased or maybe he had hoped to steal something. Either way, the alarm and tag serve as protection against theft, a system that is highly developed for high-value goods like clothing or electronics but has “not found widespread application in the [food and beverage] industry. Yet tampering with food, also known as food fraud, has plagued the food and beverage industry “throughout history” and estimates suggest that $10 billion to $15 billion is lost globally due to fraud.