LAS VEGAS — Tom Vierhile forecasts four major food trends heading into 2020. People want better-for-you foods, and they increasingly are turning to plant-based items. They want to discover new food experiences, and they are “connected to the plate” or are using technology like social media to share their food experiences.
Transparency, clean label and specific diets are examples of better-for-you eating, said Mr. Vierhile, vice-president of strategic insights, North America for Innova Market Insights, in an Oct. 17 presentation at SupplySide West in Las Vegas.
Food items and ingredients verified by the Non-GMO Project have become more popular. So have specific diets.
“This is the year of keto,” Mr. Vierhile said. “Everything is keto this year.”
Ingredients such as acai berries, turmeric and ginger fit into better-for-you eating. So does kombucha, although only about 10% of U.S. households have tried kombucha, Mr. Vierhile said. He pointed to a Coca-Cola “bridge” beverage that may make consumers more familiar with kombucha. The Odwalla Smoobucha combines kombucha and smoothie-type flavors.
A new Heinz ketchup serves as an example of eating green. It contains not only tomatoes but other vegetables, including butternut squash and carrots.
Plant-based meat substitutes and fish substitutes have become more common. Mushrooms are in jerky.
“Mushroom has a texture that can be similar to meat,” Mr. Vierhile said. “It’s chewable.”
The third major trend is discovery.
“Consumers are increasingly inclined to get out of their comfort zone,” Mr. Vierhile said.
They are trying new flavors and textures. Mr. Vierhile noted a mystery flavor phenomenon, giving the example of how a Pringles variety had a mystery flavor, and consumers could guess the flavor. It was ham and cheese.
An Innova Market Insights survey in 2018 asked people whether they loved to discover new flavors. A majority around the world did: 67% in China, 66% in the United States and 61% in the United Kingdom.
People are discovering regional flavors, too. A Lay’s potato chip comes in a New England lobster roll variety. Soup varieties include Vietnamese pho and Szechuan.
Technology, a big part of the fourth trend, is changing the food industry. An Innova Market Insights survey in 2018 asked people aged 26 to 35 whether they shared a photograph of their food online at least once a week. The positive responses were 55% in China, 43% in the United States and 24% in the United Kingdom.
The “freak shake” movement involves people showing extravagant milkshakes online.
“It’s kind of going against the grain here,” Mr. Vierhile said. “We hear how bad sugar is for us and how we have to manage our sugar consumption. One freak shake is probably two weeks’ worth of sugar.”
Although such shakes may not be healthy, they are Instagram-worthy, he said.