It’s that wonderful time of year again—all the trendologists are peering into the future and serving up a bounty of food and beverage predictions for the new year. Naturally, I enjoy reading the back stories behind their predictions, and this year’s anticipated trends reinforce that innovation and creativity are alive and well in our industry.
So, what’s in store in the year ahead? More captivating concoctions with unrecognizable and unpronounceable ingredients? You bet, and I must admit, I had to look-up a few such ingredients, like papalo (summer cilantro), booza (dense ice cream), ras el hanout (spice mix from North Africa), snozzberries (nonsense word from Charlie and the Chocolate Factor). Even though most of these are real, and while new flavor combos and exotic ingredients will always be part of the trend mix, convenience, health and taste still rule. This trio is the source of all trends—like the classic Mother Sauces, all trends lead back to them.
With that in mind, here are a few of my favorite 2019 trends to watch.
Snack meals – Millennials are leading the snacking evolution into meals. Innova reports 63 percent of them replace meals with snacks because of hectic schedules. Consequently, Millennials want snacks that are filling and nutritious, not just empty calories. This has led to an increase in fruit- and veggie-based snacks. In fact, Innova claims veggie snacks are growing more rapidly than any other snack segment. These include fruit, rice and root veggie snacks.
That’s not all. Fruit leather and fruit bites nearly doubled in sales from 2017 to 2018 and are projected to continue on that trajectory. And why not? Convenient and nutritious fruit snacks are a throwback to the simpler days of our childhood. Now with minimal added sugar, they’re a great healthy choice to add more fruit to your diet.
Super powders – Fruit and veggie powders are chock full of antioxidants and more. And speaking of plant-based snacks—they’re a perfect fit. These nutrient rich ingredients will find their way into more and more snacks, boosting their nutritional content.
Plants, plants everywhere – Plant eating is getting a lot of attention. Why are consumers turning to greens? Could it be that after more than 25 years of Five-a-Day messaging it’s finally sinking in? Possibly. It’s more likely though that a confluence of factors is contributing to the rising interest in plant-forward eating. These range from health of individuals and the planet to transparency and clean eating to animal welfare and sustainability concerns. Whatever’s at the root, there’s no denying plant-based eating is on the rise. There are plenty of plant-based milks pouring on to shelves—sesame milk, anyone? Now watch for plant-based yogurts, dips, spreads and desserts to multiply.
Gut check – Probiotics, prebiotics, fiber, fermentation—they’re all wrapped up in promoting good gut health. More and more data suggest our overall health is predicated on our gut health. Watch for more non-dairy, fermented beverages to roll into the market.
Try this! – Millennials and Gen Z are the most ethnically diverse generations ever, and their food preferences reflect this. These younger generations have grown up eating a broad range of cuisines and enjoy new flavor/ingredient experiences. They also enjoy exploring different cultures through food. While this is true. We’ve found that unique flavors are always more approachable when they’re paired with something familiar.
Transparency – This is an umbrella term that covers safe, ethical, natural and sustainable consumables. People are no longer willing to ignore the path food takes to their plate. They want to know the story of where foods originate, who is growing it, how it’s grown and harvested and ultimately whether it was raised/grown mindfully and sustainably. Mintel calls this phenomenon a “crisis of confidence” in the food system. There’s mistrust all along the food chain. To repair this relationship, there’s a call for complete honesty, and we’re seeing a lot of efforts to provide more traceability.
At Tree Top, I like to think we’re ahead of the curve on this. As a farmer-owned cooperative, we are vertically integrated from field to foodstuff. Meet some of our farmers here. And with regards to food waste/sustainability, we’ve been using so-called ‘ugly fruit,’ which doesn’t fit fresh market requirements, for decades. See our short video at top of page.
Happy New Year!!