A couple of weeks ago I spent 5 days at the National Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo in DC (aka FNCE). FNCE brings together dietitians from all over the globe to learn about the latest nutrition research and hottest food trends.
Each year I comb the conference sessions and expo floor for the most interesting nutrition-related happenings. Here’s my food and nutrition hot list for 2019 based on FNCE and my ongoing industry surveillance.
#1. Plant-forward eating
No surprises here! Plant-forward eating is very trendy at the moment with more companies showcasing plant-based alternatives than ever before. This year at FNCE I tried vegan queso from Siete Foods (delish), several legume pasta products and ready-to-cook vegan mac and cheese from Modern Table. The Impossible Burger seems to be everywhere and JUST (formerly Hampton Creek) recently released their eggless egg. Plant-forward eating is happening in a big way, and consumers are becoming increasingly thoughtful about their meat choices if/when they choose to partake.
#2. Dairy alternatives
If I had a dollar for every plant-milk product I’ve tried this year I would be a rich lady! But it’s not just plant-based milk that’s hot at the moment. Plant-based yogurt, cheese, and protein powder continue to gain traction. Oatly, an ultra-creamy oat milk product out of Scandinavia, had a booth at FNCE and continues to be my preferred plant-based milk when I feel like something other than good old cow’s milk. Califia Farms almond milk products, Mooala banana milk(!), Rebbl coconut milk elixirs and Noosh Brands almond protein powder also had a presence on the expo floor. Not all of these plant-based milk offerings are fortified with nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, and protein, so it’s important to find other sources of those nutrients if you decide to ditch dairy and dip your toe into the plant-based world.
#3. Personalized nutrition
I wrote about this last year at FNCE and I continue to see new research and companies emerge in this space. Day Two, an Israeli company that uses microbiome mapping to predict blood glucose response to various foods, popped up on my radar recently and had a booth at FNCE. Day Two’s tech is exciting and backed by science, but it’s very much a product for pre-diabetics and diabetics right now. Others companies tackling personalized nutrition include Habit, Arivale, Nutrino Health, Viome, Thryve, Helix and Vitalyze. I’ve already tried a few but I am excited to explore more personalized nutrition products in 2019!
#4. Gut health
There’s been a noticeable uptick in microbiome research over the last couple of years and the food and beverage landscape is starting to catch up. Low FODMAP offerings like Monash University, Rachel Paul Foods, Fody Foods all had booths at FNCE and this short-term approach to resolving IBS appears to be more popular than ever. Probiotics are still hot but prebiotics -- which support and nourish ‘good’ bacteria -- are also having a moment. Microbiome mapping is another trendy topic, with companies like Day Two, Ubiome and Thryve offering personalized solutions based on your unique microbial make-up. Watch this space.
#5. Functional beverages
Boatloads of venture capital investment has gone into this category over the last 18 months and it shows! High Brew Coffee, True Broc©, Rebbl, Good Belly Probiotics, Nona Lim, and Daily Harvest all had a presence on the expo floor. The bone broth game seems to be particularly hot right now (pun intended) with companies like Kettle and Fire, Epic Bar, and Nona Lim offering versions of this collagen-rich beverage. CBD-infused beverages are also emerging left and right. CBD doesn’t get you high however preliminary evidence suggests that it may offer some relief from anxiety .
Other noticeable trends in food and nutrition right now include intuitive eating and non-diet nutrition counseling; ‘new’ whole grains (sprouted grains, sorghum, legumes, nut flours); and labeling transparency. Two thousand and nineteen is going to be an interesting year for this industry!
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