As both a foodie and Canada nutrition expert I’m always fascinated to read about what food and nutrition trends I can expect to see in the year ahead. Here is my summary of the top three food and nutrition trends.
#1 Plant based push
Baum+Whiteman International Food and Restaurant Consultants predict plant based foods will be the number one food trend for 2018 and claim “plant based is the new organic.” Expect to see more “plant-forward” or “veggie-centric” options including more customizable menu and grocery store options for vegetarians and vegans.
Consumers (including meat and dairy eaters) are open to trying more plant based burgers and legumes than ever before for animal welfare, environmental or health reasons. Expect to see more plant milks including cashew, macadamia, pea protein added to the lineup of dairy-free milks. Vegan cheese on burgers and pizzas and vegan ice cream will make a name for themselves.
You will see more veggies added to foods such as vegetable chips or frozen cauliflower being added to smoothies along with a continued trend for avocado toast. The National Restaurant Association suggests one of the top trends for dishes will be vegetable carb substitutes.
#2 Mindfulness meets the grocery shelf
The mind-body philosophy of mindfulness has extended into food. Innova Market Insights named mindfulness as its number one trend for 2018. Phil Lempert, the SuperMarketGuru suggests that consumers (led by millennials) want to be mindful or “consciously aware” of all the details about what is in their food and then align with brands or retailers that support their values. Lempert mentions that products with an ethical claim on the package have increased seven-fold since 2010 as interest in human, environmental and animal ethics grows.
Natural, simple and recognizable ingredients and foods continue to trend, as does healthful meals for kids at restaurants. Most trend reports show that an overwhelming number of consumers want to understand where their food comes from and expect transparency. They are also more open to emerging trends in no-waste cooking (nose-to-tail and root-to-stem) cooking since they want to do their part to reduce food waste (which is great since The Toronto Food Policy Council suggest that forty percent of all food produced in Canada each year is wasted).
More sustainable, socially conscious and responsibly grown and raised items will appear than ever before. Smaller companies that have created products in this category are being bought out by larger players who see the opportunity ahead. Food marketers will now have to address consumer confusion as to which is better, with growing labels such as GMO-free, fair trade, organic, local, natural, free of hormones and antibiotics, pasture raised and more.
#3 Gut health & reducing inflammation
Pinterest listed gut health and pinning recipes using the best probiotic foods for your gut as one of the top ten wellness trends for 2018. While probiotics and fermented foods including probiotic beverages, tonics and teas grow in further popularity, watch for drinking vinegars (typically made from apple cider vinegar) that are similar to kombucha. Fungi such as reishi and chaga are being added to foods, coffees and teas as the next trendy way to achieve good gut health.
As more people are learning their so-called “gluten-sensitivity” might not have anything to do with gluten, they are exploring a low FODMAP (Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyols) diet for digestive issues and seeking out the help of Registered Dietitians to help them figure out the complexities of this diet plan.
In addition to a focus on gut health (or the microbiome), consumers are interested in diets to reduce inflammation, enhanced health, improve brain functioning and slow ageing. Adding omega-3 fats into foods and beverages will be more popular in 2018 as will the addition of ginger and traditional medical spices such as turmeric and Za’atar
As consumers move to reduce sugar as part of their anti-inflammatory diet they will be continuing to drink more sugar free beverages. According to Nielsen, the category of sparkling water has more than doubled in grocery store and convenience store sales over the last four years. Watch for more seltzers and sparkling water with trendy flowers added such as elderflower, which Whole Foods highlighted as the MVP (most valuable petal).
In summary, the year 2018 can be highlighted by the buzz words plant based, veggie-centric, vegan, vegetarian, probiotic, gut health, microbiome, anti-inflammatory, ethical, sustainable, natural, responsibly grown and raised, local and mindful.