What will 2020 bring in the food industry? Many sources are making their predictions. We looked at seven trend lists to find what’s at the forefront of 2020 food trends: 

Two trends made almost every list in some form: Plant-based and sustainability.

Plant-based

Innova believes the opportunity for mainstream plant-based claims is wide open. The trend taps into three concerns that are becoming more common: environmental impact of food choices, animal welfare, and the desire to eat healthier, according to Eating Well. Also, new plant-based technology means today’s meat substitutes can feel, look, and taste more like meat. 

Whole Foods’ take on the plant-based trend is that the use of soy protein will decrease, as companies look to avoid top allergens. The market may see more innovative blends (such as grains and mung beans) to mimic the creamy textures of yogurts and other dairy products. Also, 2020 could see an increase in meat-plant blends.

In foodservice, Benchmark expects the plant-based trend to grow rapidly. Technomic believes foodservice operators “will need to look to new natural resources to keep menus exciting.” That includes using previously unused parts of familiar plants, such as beet greens, sweet potato leaves, and avocado blossom, to help reduce food waste. 

A partially contrarian viewpoint comes from the Specialty Food Association (SFA), which thinks meat replacements might face a pushback, even as their growth will likely continue. “Consumers will begin to think critically about meat replacements, looking more closely at the ingredient lists, supply chains, water usage, and food safety.”

Sustainability

The SFA refers to sustainability-driven product development, noting that values-oriented consumers, especially Gen Z, consider a company’s values and production methods when deciding what to buy. 

Mentions on lists of upcycling, regenerative agriculture, and biodynamic farming all fall under the umbrella of sustainability. Three sources specifically call out regenerative agriculture as a trend for 2020. 

Technomic says to look for the foodservice industry to use more “resource-efficient, circular practices in the name of sustainability—from hydroponic vegetable production to new ways of processing and distributing food leftovers.” It’s not only sustainability in food but also in packaging, with Benchmark noting that “consumers are demanding sustainability in all forms of packaging.”

On a related note, Fresh Direct noted that consumers have become more educated about the food supply chain, ingredients, and the environmental effects of food. As a result, transparency and traceability will continue to increase in 2020.

Other 2020 food trends

In the adult beverage space, low-alcohol and nonalcoholic drinks made Eating Well’s list, while Whole Foods mentioned zero-proof drinks. SFA listed convenient cocktails and mocktails, “thanks to a slew of new mixers, tonics, and garnishes to help consumers make bar-quality cocktails at home.” Fresh Direct sees growth in low-carb adult beverages and also in organic, natural, and biodynamic wine. 

Next year could also see more CBD products, according to SFA, Eating Well, and Benchmark. This prediction comes despite the FDA’s current position that “it is currently illegal to market CBD by adding it to a food or labeling it as a dietary supplement.” 

Snack trends made three of the lists. Eating Well expects more puffed snacks with ingredients like chickpeas, beets, quinoa, and kale. Fresh Direct mentions on-the-go snacks, while Whole Foods expects to see more refrigerated snacks. 

In the area of digestive health, Eating Well and SFA mention prebiotics, while Fresh Direct calls out functional beverage and gut health.

Although no specific foods made more than one list, a few areas to watch include grain-free foods, ugly produce, dairy-free products, artisan cheeses, foods from West Africa, and butters and spreads made from ingredients ranging from watermelon seeds to chickpeas.