The Institute of Food Technologists sees some real mega food trends surfacing. Presenters and exhibitors at its annual meeting and food expo in June signaled several issues likely to find significant market success.

What are the six hot food trends for 2010?

Consumers demand dramatic changes in the way that food companies formulate, process and even flavor foods as they continue to look for more natural health solutions and convenient meal options. The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), Chicago, wrote an article on six megatrends and market challenges gathered at its 2010 IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo. The trends include fat-burning ingredients, sodium reduction, simple ingredients and clean labeling, naturally functional foods, gluten- and lactose-free products and niche flavors, such as those that are chef-inspired.

Sauces/seasonings, bakery products and cereals, soft drinks, ready-made meals and meal components and soup are the product categories in which formulators have been most active in reducing sodium content of new product introductions in 2010 in the United States. With lower-sodium foods readily available, the question of an adequate potassium intake has become a consideration. Other concerns that reflect these trends include the incidence of high blood pressure and obesity tripling in children, as well as diabetes.

The report also says that fat-burning ingredients are becoming more widely available, and Frost & Sullivan pegs the global market for satiety, fat-burning and weight-management ingredients at $7.5 billion as of 2009.

Chicago-based market research firm, Mintel, reports that 64% of U.S. consumers want more foods and beverages that can help maintain a healthy body weight, and 54% want more products to enhance metabolism. All add up to tall order for any food producer.

What’s more, preservative-free, all-natural and clean-label food sales are at high levels, and strategies for reducing the number of ingredients on the label were the talk of the association’s Expo.