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, and a relatively flat trend since 2004.

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During the Great Recession of 2008–09, the number of new food and beverage products in retail outlets fell from 20,133 to 14,431, following a decline from the previous year-to-year period—from 20,678 in 2007 to 20,133 in 2008. The 2008–2009 decline marked the first consecutive year-to-year reduction in new food product introductions since 2000.

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 the last peak in 2007. New food and beverage product introductions had consecutive year-to-year declines in 2014–2015, and 2017–2019. Nonfood grocery items decreased each year from 2013 through 2015 and increased each year from 2016 through 2019.

In 2019, the three food categories with the largest shares of overall new product introductions were beverages, snacks, and bakery foods, accounting for 42.7 percent of new products. These three categories have been in the top 5 for the entire 2012–2019 period with a slight reduction since 2012 (from 46.1 percent to 42.7 percent).

Percentage of new food and beverage product introductions, by product type, 2012–19
Product type 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
New products* 19,260 20,188 19,542 17,150 21,463 21,058 20,354 20,062
Beverages 21.1 22.3 21.6 22.4 18.6 18.0 19.0 17.2
Snacks 13.2 11.2 13.2 14.3 14.9 14.2 12.2 14.8
Bakery foods 11.8 10.3 11.6 11.6 12.6 11.4 10.2 10.7
Candy and gum 9.2 7.5 7.5 7.2 8.7 7.1 6.1 9.3
Sauces and seasonings 8.5 10.0 7.5 9.0 8.9 9.8 10.7 8.7
Dairy 6.6 6.9 8.1 7.1 7.1 7.3 7.0 7.9
Processed fish, meat, and egg products 5.5 5.9 6.2 5.8 6.3 7.9 7.9 7.3
Meals and entrees 6.2 6.1 5.9 4.9 5.5 5.6 7.0 6.5
Side dishes 3.3 3.4 3.3 2.8 3.1 3.7 3.9 3.8
Fruit and vegetables 2.7 3.5 3.5 2.6 3.2 3.9 4.6 3.2
Sweet and savory spreads 3.0 2.6 2.3 2.5 2.8 2.9 2.6 3.1
Desserts and ice cream 3.9 4.0 3.2 4.1 3.2 2.8 3.3 2.9
Breakfast cereals 2.4 2.4 2.7 3.0 2.8 2.9 2.2 2.4
Soup 1.1 1.9 1.5 1.2 1.2 1.5 1.5 1.1
Baby food 1.0 1.6 1.5 1.1 0.8 0.6 1.4 0.8
Sweeteners and sugar 0.5 0.3 0.3 0.5 0.3 0.3 0.4 0.3
*Total number of new products.
Source: Prepared by USDA, Economic Research Service, using data from Mintel's Global New Product Database.
Data as of May 2020.

Advertisements touting products' attributes are displayed on packages and in supporting literature. Based on new product tags or claims (such as "organic") tracked by Mintel GNPD, over 90 U.S. food and beverage new product claims or tags were identified in 2019. The top 10 claim categories in 2019, presented in the table below, have ranked among the top 10 claims in every year since 2016.

Number of new product introductions in the top 10 product claim categories for 2012–19
Tag or claim* 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Kosher 5,308 7,564 7,943 7,427 8,996 8,796 8,543 8,473
Low-allergen or no/reduced allergens 2,215 3,922 4,839 4,918 6,587 6,130 6,010 6,676
Gluten-free 1,963 3,599 4,551 4,536 6,149 5,743 5,578 6,155
No additives/preservatives 2,468 3,536 3,559 3,475 4,611 4,820 5,008 4,905
GMO-free** 547 1,345 1,993 2,685 3,735 4,053 4,330 4,736
Ethical—environmentally friendly packaging 2,852 4,242 4,268 4,241 5,060 4,497 4,521 4,249
Ethical—recyclable 5 3,507 4,027 4,034 4,835 4,276 4,318 3,999
Social media 792 2,117 2,602 2,871 4,009 3,697 3,341 3,774
Organic 1,237 2,064 2,084 2,314 3,006 3,089 2,929 2,884
Microwaveable 1,626 2,487 2,530 1,749 2,288 2,526 3,007 2,393
Total new product claims 43,698 69,512 73,452 70,363 87,914 84,154 84,750 85,678
Notes: *A new product may have multiple tags or claims. **GMO=genetically modified organism.
Source: Prepared by USDA, Economic Research Service, using data from Mintel's Global New Product Database.
Data as of May 2020.
Percent of new product introductions in the top 10 product claim categories for 2012–19
Tag or claim* 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Kosher 12.1 10.9 10.8 10.6 10.2 10.5 10.1 9.9
Low-allergen or no/reduced allergens 5.1 5.6 6.6 7.0 7.5 7.3 7.1 7.8
Gluten-free 4.5 5.2 6.2 6.4 7.0 6.8 6.6 7.2
No additives/preservatives 5.6 5.1 4.8 4.9 5.2 5.7 5.9 5.7
GMO-free** 1.3 1.9 2.7 3.8 4.2 4.8 5.1 5.5
Ethical—environmentally friendly packaging 6.5 6.1 5.8 6.0 5.8 5.3 5.3 5.0
Ethical—recycling 0.0 5.0 5.5 5.7 5.5 5.1 5.1 4.7
Social media 1.8 3.0 3.5 4.1 4.6 4.4 3.9 4.4
Organic 2.8 3.0 2.8 3.3 3.4 3.7 3.5 3.4
Microwaveable 3.7 3.6 3.4 2.5 2.6 3.0 3.5 2.8
Notes: *A new product may have multiple tags or claims. **GMO=genetically modified organism.
Source: Prepared by USDA, Economic Research Service, using data from Mintel's Global New Product Database.
Data as of May 2020.

In 2016, "microwaveable" claims replaced "all natural" products in the top 10 claim categories. "Natural" claims ranked among the top 10 claims from 2011 to 2015, while "microwaveable" re-entered the top 10 after maintaining a top-10 ranking from 2011 to 2014. "Genetically modified organism (GMO)-free" claims ranked among the top 10 claims for the first time in 2015 and is among the top 5 claims in 2019. In 2019, 4,736 "GMO-free" products were introduced, compared with 3,735 in 2016, 1,993 in 2014, and 547 in 2012. This reflects consumers' concern about the possible effects 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 2014.

Products bearing logos that promote a company’s social media site (for example, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter) reached the top 10 claims for the first time in 2013, an increase of over 167 percent from 2012. Promoting new products using social media platforms was practically nonexistent before 2012. In 2019, products with social media logos increased 13 percent over the previous year (2018) and ranked eighth among all new product claims, accounting for 4.4 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. Advantages to advertising via social media rather than advertising via traditional media include lower cost, minimal effort, increased opportunity 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 through 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.

Last updated: Friday, August 21, 2020

For more information, contact: Eliana Zeballos