WASHINGTON — Consumers want to know more about the entire journey, from the farm to the store, of food products, according to the International Food Information Council Foundation, which on Jan. 8 listed its top five food trends for 2019.
“Consumer interest and awareness of the origins of their food used to start and stop at the grocery store or restaurant,” the Washington-based IFIC Foundation said. “Today that’s a thing of the past. Consumers want to know how their food is produced, where it came from and the quality of the ingredients. They also have broader questions about environmental sustainability, and many seek brands that align with their broader social values.”
More than half of the respondents in the IFIC Foundation’s 2018 Food and Health Survey said factors affecting purchase decisions included recognizing ingredients, understanding where the food originated and the number of ingredients.
Other top trends for 2019 look to be food safety, allergies, sugar concern, and vegetarians and vegans. Whole genome sequencing (W.G.S.) is influencing food safety and allergens. The W.G.S. technique generates the DNA sequence of an organism, which allows for distinction between and among different pathogens and has a superior resolution than other technologies, according to the IFIC Foundation. Using W.S.G. data from patients with peanut allergies might help identify peanut allergies in babies before the allergies post life-threatening anaphylactic reactions.
Consumer concern and upcoming regulations make sugar a key topic. IFIC Foundation data show 77% of consumers said they are taking steps to limit or avoid sugar in their diet. The Food and Drug Administration also will start mandating the listing of added sugars on the Nutrition Facts Label on Jan. 1, 2020.
“Coupling the current negative consumer sentiment on sugars with more information about them included on food packaging leads us to believe the sugar reduction trend will continue in 2019,” the IFIC Foundation said, while adding low-calorie and no-calorie sweeteners, particularly stevia and monk fruit, could become more popular.
Sales of plant-based products have grown by 20% since 2017, but more than just vegetarians and vegans are buying the products. The IFIC Foundation’s 2018 Food and Health Survey found 4% of Americans identify as vegetarians or vegans, but others are following diets typically high in vegetables. The diets include paleo, low-carbohydrate, Whole30 and high protein.