WASHINGTON — Consumers will show greater concern for the planet when making food and beverage purchase decisions in 2020, judging by a forecast from the International Food Information Council Foundation. Sustainability and climate change made up two of the top five trends this year in food and nutrition. Other trends are “un-diets,” new spins on old standbys and ingredients for trust.
“Each year, our team of registered dietitians, nutrition experts and consumer researchers takes a look at what we can expect in the coming year,” said Joseph Clayton, president and chief executive officer of the Washington-based IFIC Foundation. “In 2020, we predict that topics surrounding sustainability, alternative foods and healthy diets will move in some unexpected directions.”
Consumers will seek greater understanding of the term sustainability in 2020, and concepts like soil health and regenerative agriculture could gain traction, according to the forecast. The IFIC Foundation’s 2019 Food and Health Survey found 63% of respondents said it was hard to know whether the food choices they make are sustainable, and 63% said environmental sustainability would have a greater influence on their choices if it were easier to know.
Concern will grow about the role the food system plays in climate change, including the effects of agricultural production, food waste and transportation of goods. Wildfires, hurricanes and polar ice loss are driving concern about climate change. Environmental concerns will continue to drive greater adoption of plant-based foods.
“Un-diets” focus less on food restrictions and more on natural cues from the body. Examples of natural cues are people knowing when they are full and people having healthier relationships with food overall. Millennials especially will follow “un-diets” as the 2019 Food and Health Survey found 49% of respondents age 18 to 34 are familiar with mindful and intuitive eating, which compared to 27% of people over age 50.
New spins on old standbys also include plant-based items. Food producers are incorporating oat-based milk alternatives into more products, according to the forecast. Food companies in 2020 should make more progress on creating plant-based products that closely mimic the taste and other positive attributes of meat. Cell-based meat will become more viable this year.
Ingredients for trust involves people, especially older people, basing purchase decisions on brands and ingredients they know. The 2019 Food and Health Survey found trust in a brand impacted the purchase decisions of 85% of people age 65 and above, which compared to 66% for younger consumers.