Food trend predictions proliferate at this time of the year. How much do the 2019 forecasts agree? We looked at predictions from the Specialty Food Association (SFA), Innova Marketing Insights, Mintel, Whole Foods, Kroger, and FreshDirect to find six mega trends for 2019.
1. Consumers adopt regional and adventurous flavors
The SFA sees Millennials and the younger Generation Z driving a shift to the regional cuisines of Africa, South Asia, and Latin America. “These consumers are adventurous and seek experience in their travel and in their food,” states the SFA.
Whole Foods believes flavor inspiration is coming from the Pacific Rim, including Asia and the western coasts of North and South America. Examples include tropical fruits and ingredients such as dried shrimp, cuttlefish, and shrimp paste. Kroger observes not only a taste for global flavors but also for foods influenced by regions across the U.S., such as inspiration from Nashville hot chicken and Southern Appalachian pimento cheese.
Whether it’s global flavors or regional U.S. flavors, the shift helps drive Innova’s top 2019 trend of Discovery: The Adventurous Consumer. “The food and beverage industry is increasingly focusing on satisfying the adventurous consumer, with consumers moving out of their comfort zones to explore bolder flavors and multisensory food experiences.”
2. Plant-based foods continue growing
The SFA, Innova, and Kroger specifically call out the continued growth of plant-based foods. These foods attract not only vegetarians/vegans but also consumers concerned about personal health and food/environmental sustainability. According to Innova, mainstream consumers who eat plant-based foods aren’t looking to adopt an all-or-nothing way of eating but rather want “a healthy and sustainable balance between meat and vegetables.”
Whole Foods gives a nod to the trend by predicting the growth of faux meat snacks. Fresh Direct sees growth in oats and cauliflower.
3. Sustainability efforts increase
Mintel’s top trend is evergreen consumption, defined as a circular view of sustainability that covers the product lifecycle. Everyone from suppliers to consumers gets involved.
Green appeal is also a trend from Innova, which notes manufacturers are developing more sustainable products and packaging. Efforts include improving biodegradability, using upcycled ingredients and post-consumer recycling to reduce waste, and developing new technology, such as vegetable inks and compostable capsules.
Both Whole Foods and the SFA also note the importance of sustainable packaging. The SFA expects the growth in sustainable packaging to include plant-based packages and the use of upcycled ingredients or scraps.
4. Snacking is an occasion
Consumers have always snacked. However, the way people think about snacking and what they consider a snack is changing, according to Innova. “Snacking is no longer the optional extra, but the definitive occasion.” Whole Foods agrees, saying snacks will become “anything but ordinary.”
Fresh Direct sees an evolution of snacks for children. “Kid snacks will shift in two ways – there will be more nutritional plays on traditional kids’ favorites and adult staples will also become more kid-friendly.”
5. Hemp/cannabis/CBD products emerge
Hemp-derived CBD products are becoming legal in more states, despite challenges due to federal laws, though those laws may change if the Farm Bill now in Congress passes. The SFA believes consumer curiosity and a new generation growing up in states where cannabis is legal point to future growth of the edibles market. Products that may come to the marketplace in 2019 include infused baked goods, chocolates, snacks, coffees, teas, and cooking oils.
Fresh Direct and Whole Foods agree. Whole Foods notes a cannabis craze at food industry trade shows. Fresh Direct believes 2019 will be the year “CBD will break into the food category in full force driven by the help of risk-taking innovators.”
6. Probiotic products gain steam
Probiotics have been on trend for a while. The SFA, Kroger, and Whole Foods expect further growth. Among SFA predictions are fermented functional beverages with mushrooms and more drinking vinegars. Whole Foods notes new strains of probiotics can be used in shelf-stable products, meaning probiotics could show up in pantry items such as granola, oatmeal, nut butters, and nutrition bars.