David Jago, director of Mintel's Global New Products Database, told NutraIngredients.com that no new trend has moved in to fill the void left by the low-carb approach in 2005. But the glycaemic index has been slowly growing in popularity, and to him that is a good sign.
"When you see trends coming up fast, it means they are not likely to last," he said. "I don't think the glycaemic index is a fad. It will become more and more mainstream, as people start to think about GI as well as fat and calorie content."
Part of the reason that GI has been slow to take-off in many markets, despite much media coverage and high profile product launches from the likes of Tesco and Marks and Spencer, is that it is a complex system.
"It is horribly complicated, but most people who are likely to hear of it already have, and have a good basic level of understanding that low GI is good, and high is bad," he said.
From here, he predicts it will continue seeping into consumer consciousness. Marketing products as 'keeping you feeling fuller for longer', and 'releasing energy more slowly' encapsulate the principals but are easy for consumers to understand.
Although it is intended to help consumers better understand the principles, glycaemic load is not likely to be the answer since it carries with it too many negative connotations. The glycaemic load approach also considers the quantity of a carbohydrate consumed and comes up with a point value.
But according to Jago, this aligns it too closely with weight management programmes such as Weight Watchers, which also operated on a point system. This could make it unappealing to people looking for a lifestyle, rather than weight loss.
Another trend that Jago expects to see grow in 2006 is portion control. This was already starting to creep in a year ago but, until now, it has been more prevalent in the US than in Europe.
But whereas in the US the emphasis has been on ready meals, in Europe more bite-sized products have been coming to market, especially in confectionery and biscuits. For example, Cadbury launched under 99 calorie bars under its Dairy Milk and Bourneville brands, and Walkers is offering a packet of crisps with under-75 calories.
We may hear more about 'balance' in 2006 - that is, foods that have a more appropriate balance of calories and fat, rather than 'very low' anything, he added.