Food is becoming more and more exciting and we are talking about food more than we ever have before. It's the time of year to look ahead and to predict what the world of food will bring us next year. From cutting food waste, to redefining breakfast, these are the top food trends to look out for in 2017.
1. Vegetable centred eating continues to rise
There is a rise in the number of vegetarians and vegans, but it’s the rise in meat eaters that are introducing more meat-free meals to their diets that is driving the rise in vegetarian centred eating. The idea that protein only comes from animal sources is being eroded. Whereas restaurants tended to focus on one vegetarian option, restaurants are now offering more innovative and creative vegetable offerings to cater for those who are reducing their meat consumption. This trend is not about cutting out meat and dairy, rather it is about choosing to base more meals around plants and eating less meat. This is being driven partly, by environmental and food sustainability factors and partly by health considerations.
2. Breakfast is being redefined.
The line between breakfast and lunch is blurring. As people chose to reduce their reliance on carbohydrates at breakfast time we are seeing a move away from traditional breakfasts such as cereal, fruit juice and toast. Those wanting to add more vegetables, protein and healthy fats to their morning meal are making foods such as eggs, salmon, avocados, smoothies made from green vegetables and nut butters everyday breakfast staples. The ‘put an egg on it’ trend continues unabated; think brown rice and vegetables with a poached egg sitting on top and you have what many consider to be a perfectly acceptable breakfast.
3. The desire to cut food waste is growing
Our desire to cut food waste is not waning. Social organisations are sprouting up all over the world with the specific objective to reduce food waste. Supermarkets are proudly selling wonky vegetables and donating left over food to charities. Restaurants are marketing their zero waste policies as a powerful tool to attract new customers. With producers, sellers and consumers becoming even more conscious of avoiding food waste, food parts that were typically tossed are being repurposed and used. For example, the stalk of cauliflower and broccoli are no longer discarded, the pulp from cold pressed juices is dehydrated to make crackers, and scraps are being used to make stock. Any food waste that is not being repurposed is being disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner.
4. The move towards protein and fat based diets continues
People are beginning to focus on their macro nutrient intake like never before, with many choosing high protein and fat diets and lowering their intake of carbohydrates. Arguments continue as to whether this is nutritionally sound or not, but expect to see this trend to continue and gain momentum in 2017. What is a balanced diet is being decided by individuals themselves based on a mixture of their own experiences, expert advice and social media influences. There seems to be a general apathy to official dietary guidelines with them being largely ignored. What constitutes a healthy diet continues to be a divisive topic especially on social media.
5. Sustainability concerns are driving food choices
People are beginning to question the true cost of the food they are eating on the environment, the local community and on their health and are making more sustainable food choices as a result. In all areas of our lives, we are assuming more personal responsibility for protecting our environment and this includes in our food choices. We consider the carbon footprint of our food, where our fish comes from, how animals are reared and how our food is packaged. These are becoming main stream considerations in many people’s grocery decisions. Not only does sustainable food production protect the environment, it also benefits our community and may even result in more nutritional food than less sustainable food production methods.
6. We are all talking about our microbiome
Many of us paid little attention to our microbiome in the past. However, we are beginning to understand the importance of the billions of bacteria that live within our bodies and their role in maintaining our digestive health. People are taking probiotic supplements and eating more foods that are believed to benefit our gut health. Expect to hear lots more talk of fermented foods and to see food producers jump on this trend and bring to market an array of probiotic foods and drinks designed to help maintain the balance of good and bad bacteria in our bodies.
7. We are eating more mindfully
People are becoming more engaged in the food conversation and in turn more mindful of what they are eating. Mindful eating is more than just slowing down and tuning in to the physical act of eating our food. It’s also becoming more mindful of how we shop, the factors that influence our food choices, how we feel when we eat certain foods and how we feel about the impact of our food choices on our health, the environment and our community. Where previously our food choices were influenced by taste, hunger, price and availability, we can now add environmental and social impact and health to that list.
8. Even more transparency in the food chain is expected
Social media has far reaching power and gives the average person’s voice wide reach. People are not afraid to challenge food producers and retailers on the authenticity of their products and to do so in a very public manner. Food labels and descriptions are scrutinised to ensure that the origin and production method of the product are truthfully described. Consumers and competitors are not afraid to challenge ‘big food’ and with the power of social media any untruth or exaggeration in a product’s description could be a brand’s downfall.
9. Supermarkets are becoming tech savvy
Younger shoppers are tech savvy, big users of social media and value convenience. They want to shop online, they want designated pick up points for pre-ordered groceries, they want smart delivery options and they want all of this on an app on their phone. Supermarkets are beginning to respond to their requirements, with Amazon moving to open its first drive thru supermarket. Expect to see more supermarkets partner with delivery services, develop apps to allow customers shop from their mobile phones and offer smart checkout lanes as well as designated grocery pick up points.
10. Coconut everything
If you think coconut based foods were a fad, think again. When Whole Foods tells us that they believe consumers will be buying coconut flour, tortillas, chips, ice creams, butters and more, expect to see lots more coconut based products hitting our shelves. Coconut is extremely versatile and producers are becoming more innovative in their coconut product offerings. Restaurants are also picking up on this trend especially as more customers are looking for diary free options. Coconut is especially filling the dairy gap when it comes to dessert options. Think coconut panna cotta and cheesecakes.