It’s fun to make predictions – and even more fun to look back and see whether the predications we made were on target. In February, 2017, we posted a blog called What Are We Eating In 2017?  Some of the trends we discussed did pan out; charred/smoked/burnt foods and the continued popularity of Middle Eastern flavors. However, our predictions of increased use of florals, seaweed and fermented foods were less prescient.

Well, we’re game to give it another try. For 2020, we’re going broader. Not so much talk about specific flavors, more around global trends we see happening and think are likely to grow.

It’s About More

Plant-based foods are a hot item and likely to get hotter. We wrote about this last July in Where’s The Beef? Technology And The Future Of Meat. And, even since then, the number of non-meat-based protein options has multiplied. Staples like tofu, beans and quinoa are joined by buckwheat, hemp and chia seeds. While veganism is on the rise, many people who don’t want to commit to a totally plant-based diet are adopting a “blended” eating routine. Sometimes called Flexitarians, these folks might have one meatless meal per week or eat vegan for one week out of each month. The options are endless.

Purposeful meal prep is another growing trend. It may mean spending several hours at home on a Sunday preparing and packaging meals for the rest of the week – Meal Prep Sunday. Or it can be an opportunity for social interaction – where several friends meet in one person’s home or at a commercial kitchen to cook multiple meals. Eating out is expensive, and it’s so easy to make poor food choices. Preparing home cooked meals ahead that can be warmed quickly on a busy night after work is becoming a more appealing option to many.

Of course, there are just some nights when ordering in is the only way to go. In addition to traditional restaurants that offer both eat-in and take-out, there are new places popping up – sometimes called “ghost kitchens”; commercial cooking spaces with no dine-in option. They are essentially hubs for online delivery and catering only. The fact that they don’t have to operate a “retail” space in a potentially costly area allows them to more efficiently fill the consumer demand for food delivered home, ready-to-eat.

It’s About Less

Scaling back – as it relates to foods and beverages – is also “a thing”.

The FDA has focused over the past several years on how to help consumers make more informed decisions about the nutritional profiles of the packaged foods and drinks they consume. One specific initiative has resulted in new guidelines which will require manufacturers to change the way they report added sugar content on nutrition labels, with the hope that consumers will use the information to decrease their intake of added sugars. Added sugars have been associated with a variety of chronic diseases including obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) as well as cognitive decline and even some cancers. The challenge for food technologists is to find ingredients that deliver sweetness without added sugar or artificial sweeteners – while still delivering on the good taste that consumers demand.

Low and no alcohol drinks are making a splash. Thomas Pellechia, Writing For Forbes, refers to “dry January” and “mindful drinking” as emerging trends. There are people who like the taste of alcoholic beverages but don’t want the associated effects of alcohol. Beer, wine and spirits companies are listening.

Intermittent fasting – eating only during a relatively small window, usually eight hours, and then fasting for the next 16 hours – has become a popular way to lose weight. Of course, it’s yet to be seen whether this is just the latest fad or a way of living that will catch on and stick around. But some pretty impressive medical authorities, including Harvard Health Publishing (Harvard Medical School), are writing about the benefits of intermittent fasting.

It’s About CBD-Infused Foods?

The jury is out on this one. Certainly, if the FDA allows it, there is the potential for a tidal wave of CBD-infused foods and beverages.

Only time will tell whether these predictions come true. Check back in early 2021 and we’ll let you know!

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