The year ahead looks set to be dominated by healthy eating, including a shift away from sugar and even back towards good fats, new ways to get your protein fix, and increased demand for healthy pulses and grains. Here, Jessica Gay takes a look at the five most promising trends for 2017.
2015 and 2016 has seen the rise of healthy snacks and 2017 is showing no signs of stopping. As consumers become more increasingly conscious of the food they purchase, the demand for healthy snacking will increase. 2015 saw the success of the compressed fruit bar snack, but with a greater attention on sugar, no matter how healthy fruit is, more consumers will move onto snacks that promise low sugar and high protein. Fat is no longer the danger word, and this change in attitude will see increased sales in nut-based snacks and even cheese.
Tiger nuts are set to be big in 2017. Little is known about this superfood nut, and not many brands are using it in the UK. Horchata, a drink made from the nut, is big in Spain and is said to be a great drink for gut health. Keep an eye out on the shelves next year for this rising star.
We’re also seeing a rise in brands launching ‘baked’ crisp varieties. Crisps are making a comeback, but not as we know them. Brands like US-based JicaCrisps have created crisps out of the newly predicted superfood of 2017, jicama, while Rhythm Superfoods has launched ‘broccoli bites’.
New ways to protein fix
Following on from the rise in healthy snacks, protein is still a key focal point in 2017. Plant-based proteins will continue to increase, with more brands utilising its benefits. This will affect all sectors of the food and drink sector, including convenience meals, snacks and beverage options.
Canadian start-up Veggemo has recently launched a new line of dairy alternative drinks using pea protein. Likewise Pulsin has launched a dedicated pea protein powder. The rise of pea protein could spell the decline of soy, especially given some health concerns connected with the bean.
We may also see a rise in new forms of protein. Under used meats and fish such as goat and sardines could see resurgence, especially with the increased concern over the environmental impact of traditional meats.
No to packaging
The announcement of the £0.05 plastic bag charge in England could lead to further charges on other forms of packages in 2017. In September, France announced plans to ban plastic cups, plates and cutlery. They also announced a new law, which will come into effect in 2020, which means all plastic cups, cutlery and plates can be composted and are made of biologically sourced materials.
With France leading the way, UK consumers will certainly be pushing the UK government to follow suit. More environmentally conscious consumers and brands will be looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint, and charges on plastic bottles, cutlery and coffee cups could be the answer.
New grains for gains
We’ve seen the increased demand for pulses and grains. Grains like quinoa and bulgur wheat had a record year in 2015/16 and 2017 could see the resurgence of other ancient grains like teff, millet and freekeh.
Brands like Nestle and Kellogg’s have recently launched cereal varieties using such ancient grains, and more brands are incorporating them into snack bars, pastas, crisps and convenience foods.
Purple rice is also becoming a food staple for health-conscious consumers. With its nutty flavour and chewy texture, the gain provides essential dietary fibre. It’s very nutritionally rich and actually contains more antioxidants, gram for gram, than blueberries.
Brands will begin to experiment with flavour and taste to reignite their audience’s interest. Many scientists believe taste is in fact a ‘multisensory’ perception, in which our sense of sight and smell all contribute. With this in mind, brands will start to explore how a product’s packaging, environment and situation all affect its flavour.
This is especially relevant in the hospitality and restaurant sector where it is easier to control the environment of the product and the consumer.
In stores, more brands may play around with on-shelf marketing and tasters, and with the rise of digital media, brands will be exploring neuroscience-inspired packaging designs.
A concept which has yet to be explored, which may take off in 2017, is digital seasoning. This involves adding ‘digital seasoning’ to food via your smartphone and could involve the use of sounds and images.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2017