This past year was one of change. In 2011, the global population reached seven billion, food prices continued to climb and a gloomy economy clouded with social and political uncertainty prevailed. Natural disasters like the devastating tsunami in Japan shocked the world as we witnessed nuclear reactors on the verge of melting, threatening unprecedented consequences to life and to the environment.

2012 begins with different rules and scenarios, a fresh start. According to the Chinese Calendar, it is the Year of the Dragon, which repeats every 12 years. The Dragon marks progression, perseverance and auspiciousness, but also brings unpredictable events. It is expected to be a year of good fortune in the areas of health, wealth and living a long, prosperous life. For those born in the year of the Dragon, and those who are flexible and capable to navigate these unexpected challenges, the chance to succeed will be even higher. How do these predictions apply within the context of the sustainability sectors?

Organics Keep Growing

In spite of a not very rosy context, in Europe and the UK, demand for natural and organic foods and cosmetics continues. Increased sales of dairy-free foods along with free-from artificial flavours and colours will be seen in the UK, reports research firm Mintel. Organic Monitor sees UK sales of ethical goods and services as well as fair-trade products growing strongly, while organic food and drink sales have slumped.

Germany’s Organic Natural Products (BNN) Production and Trade Association recently reported that organic food and natural cosmetics sold in the organic trade last year reached EUR 2.1 billion, compared to 1.93 billion in 2010 and 1.8 billion in 2009. Last year organic food in Germany accounted for about 91 percent of total organic sales. Natural cosmetics and other products from the non-food sector brought drew 9 percent.

Agence Bio in Paris says 2010 sales of organic food in France were around EUR 3.4 billion, up 10.8 percent from the previous year, with over 10 percent growth seen in the first half of 2011. Organic sales in Dutch supermarkets for the first half of 2011 rose by 29 percent over the previous year, with sales at EUR 195 million, according to the organic federation Bionext.

Meanwhile, in the USA, natural and organic sales grew 8 percent to $41 billion in 2010, and have steadily increased throughout the recession.

In some countries, in particular Canada and the USA most people value time as everyone seem to be often “on the go”. At Organic & Wellness we notice that appearance, taste, convenience, price and value will continue to lead consumers’ decisions when purchasing foods.

SPINS Trendwatch 2012 Picks Hot Ingredients & Product Trends

SPINS, market research and consulting firm for the Natural Products Industry in North America, has pointed to Product Attributed Related Trends such as “Vegan Crosses Over,” which reports vegan options now seen in high-end restaurants and an increase in vegan product offerings in speciality gourmet brands.

 Organic supplements, which are made under stricter quality control standards and are free of many of the chemical residues that can be found in some conventional supplements, have increased over the past year. Cognitive health supplements and Energy Shot beverages are also predicted to be in more demand. Other predictions are for more Raw and Cultured Food categories, Non-GMO Labelling, Gluten-Free Body Care and Non-Toxic packaging such as BPA-free containers.

Hot Ingredients that SPINS highlights for 2012 include Chia seeds, Quinoa, Garbanzo Beans, Argan Oil, African Mango, Fruit Stem Cells, Dairy Alternatives and Probiotics. Broader Marketplace Trends for SPINS include a strong demand for “local” foods, where a direct and genuine connection between the specialty gourmet retailer and the local producer can be developed as result of their shared passion for great food––a passion that also attracts consumers. Some retailers have brought “local” even closer by tending to their own farms on site or near the retail location for the ultimate in authenticity.

Another trend gaining momentum in 2012 is the use of the word “Artisanal” or “Artisan.” Even giant food manufacturers are beginning to recognize that more consumers want to feel the food they purchase is unique and special, often handcrafted or made in small batches.

In some countries, in particular Canada and the USA, most people value time as everyone seem to be often “on the go.” At Organic & Wellness News we notice that appearance, taste, convenience, price and value will all continue to lead consumers’ decisions when purchasing foods. Discerning consumers may find terms like “artisan” or “natural” and “fresh” too vague and will be checking labels and expecting more information about the quality of the products, how they were prepared and where they come from. There is definitely an interest to know the story behind each brand. The packaging chosen should also project the level of commitment to sustainability.