Top 10 Food Trends for 2019

January 14, 2019

A new year means new food trends are dawning. Trend forecasts from grocers, food companies, marketing companies and more started piling up in late November and continued through December.

We perused over a dozen food prediction lists to compile our picks for the top 10 Food Trends for 2019.

Without further ado, here’s our list.

1: Plant-Based Foods

Plant-based foods are on an upward trend. Last year, 39% of U.S. consumers actively tried to eat more plant-based foods and 31% of consumers participated in a meat-free day once per week.

Given this, it’s not surprising that plant-based foods appeared on five 2019 predictions. Whole Foods predicted that faux meat snacks and plant-based frozen desserts would be a hit with consumers, even from non-vegans and non-vegetarians.

Many consumers will search for plant-based food options to help balance their meat and vegetable intake, Innova Market Insights predicted. Eating more plant-based foods doesn’t mean that consumers will only eat plant-based foods, according to Innova.

However, many consumers will reduce or eliminate meat and/or dairy from their diets, The Kroger Co. predicted. Oat milk will be a popular dairy substitute, Supermarket News said in its 2019 trend prediction. (See trend #4 for more on oat milk.)

The plant-based movement will accelerate, Food Business News said in its Health and Wellness Trends for 2019. “There is no denying plant-based foods have made strides in appearance, flavor and nutritional properties,” Food Business News wrote.

2: Gut Health

People are concerned about their gut health. There was a 350% increase in “best gut health” Google searches from 2017 to 2018.

Probiotics are a major component of the gut health trend. They have a reputation for improving gut health. Furthermore, 60% of U.S. consumers perceive foods with probiotics as healthy. Probiotics are projected to be a $57.2 billion market by 2022.

Kroger predicted that gut-healthy foods will be in high demand because consumers are seeking foods that support self-care and healthy immune systems. Whole Foods said that gut-focused products will pop up beyond the supplement and refrigerated aisles.

Consumers want products for gut health that emphasize probiotics and prebiotic fibers, according to Food Business News. Kombucha, probiotic bread, oatmeal cups and probiotic krauts are among the gut-health product offerings that consumers, especially Millennials, will want.

3: Transparency/Corporate Social Responsibility/Sustainability

It’s not just about the product. Consumers factor the ethics and values of the companies the product comes from in their buying decision-making process. That includes where the food is manufactured to where it is sold.

64% of consumers choose, switch, or boycott a brand based on its stand on societal issues, according to the Edelman’s Earned Brand 2018 report. And about 1 in 3 consumers buy from brands that they believe are doing societal or environmental good.

Consumers demand sustainable business practices and expect companies to be transparent about what is in their food and where it came from. Both Tyson Foods and Just -Foods. an online news publication for the food industry, included transparency in their trend forecasts. 39% of consumers will switch brands to start using products that have more transparency in their labels.

Consumers expect transparency around a business’s operating practices and will buy fewer products that are wrapped in plastics, are single-use and other items that are bad for the environment, Just-Foods said. Consumers want food and beverage products from companies with sustainable business practices, according to Innova Market Insights.

Whole Foods predicted that consumers will purchase more products that are multi-use and have compostable packaging. Consumers will buy products from companies that treat people and animals well, Whole Foods said.

Shoppers want to see companies with sustainable practices throughout the entire product life cycle. This includes bio-based packaging and proactive efforts to improve air pollution and support plant welfare, according to market intelligence agency Mintel's 2019 predictions.

Reusable beeswax wraps for food storage landed on Pinterest 100: Top Trends for 2019’s forecast. There was a 146% increase in beeswax wraps searches in 2018, according to Pinterest.

 Another iteration of this trend is food as a form of self-expression. Consumers will align with companies that represent similar values to their own, according to Tyson.

4: Lifestyle Diets

37% of U.S. consumers followed a specific diet in 2018, which is up from 35% in 2017 and 29% in 2016.

Kroger predicted that more consumers are subscribing to different eating styles, from vegetarian to flexitarian to keto and paleo. Health-based eating with a focus on diets like paleo, keto and intermittent fasting, according to Supermarket News.

Pegan diets, which blend paleo and vegan diets, landed on Pinterest 100: Top Trends for 2019. There was a 337% increase in “eating pegan” searches on Pinterest in 2018.

Healthy lifestyle diets call for alternatives. Pinterest named oat milk as the “dairy alternative of choice” both for its taste and because it’s environmentally friendly. There was a 186% increase in oat milk searches in 2018. Supermarket News also named oat milk in its forecast.

Many consumers will look for alternatives to bread, dairy and meat. Health is the top reason that consumers will seek these alternatives, according to Innova Market Insights.

5: Functional Foods

It’s not just about where the food came from and the business practices of the companies responsible for producing the food. Customers will be looking for functional foods, which are made with ingredients specifically for a health benefit.

Consumers are thinking strategically about eating foods that give them energy, focus and clearer thinking. Dandelion greens and jicama promote mind health. Brain health is projected to be an $11.6 billion industry by 2024, Tyson Foods said in its 2019 predictions.

Consumers will also eat for digestion, which includes fermented foods, probiotics and turmeric. Beauty is another functional food category, which includes ingredients like collagen and bone broths.

Food Business News predicted that foods that are formulated to provide sustained energy will be popular. This type of functional food is not the same as a Red Bull-like energy drink that spikes alertness. Rather, shoppers will look for products with Vitamin B and caffeine that provide sustained energy throughout the day.

Overall, consumers will prioritize health and wellness as a “holistic, proactive and ongoing pursuit with emphasis on using food and drink for medical purposes,” Mintel said in its Food and Drink Trends for 2019. Health concerns include bone, joint, brain and eye health.

Consumers expanded the definition of healthy foods. The evolved meaning encompasses food that is good for both the body and the planet, Just-Food predicted in its 8 Foodservice Trends for 2019.

6: Snacking

Snacking isn’t new, but the type of snacks consumers want and the way they think about snacking is changing.

Rather than treating snacking as an optional extra, it’s a planned part of a consumer’s food intake, according to Innova Market Insights. Global annual food and beverage snack product launches has increased an average of 10% for the past five years.

Demand for craveable, affordable and portable snack foods will rise, according to Just-Foods.

The snacks themselves are getting a gourmet upgrade, according to Whole Foods. More sea ingredients, like seaweed butter, puffed water lily seeds and crispy salmon skins will be included in snack foods, Whole Foods predicted.

7: Better-For-You

Consumers want healthier, better-for-you food selections.

Consumer packaged goods marketing agency Acosta predicted that there would be an increase in better-for-you, clean label and higher quality frozen food selections in its 2019 Predictions.

Supermarket News said that better-for-you desserts will be trending, such as a dessert hummus.

While many consumers are sweet on sweets, they will be looking for low sugar and natural sweeteners in 2019, according to Kroger.  Natural sweeteners like honey and agave will be big.

69% of consumers want more natural sugar and 46% of consumers say sugar is bad. Kroger predicted that more products with natural sweeteners will hit grocery store shelves this year.

8: Flavors

2019 will be the year of flavor experimentation.

Adventurous consumers will try new flavors, especially ones that focus on heightened sensory delivery, according to Innova Market Insights.

Consumers will experiment with flavors, techniques and tastes from regional and ethnic cuisines to create new foods, Tyson Foods forecast.

Kroger predicted that foods will be included by regional flavors like BBQ. Consumers will see this in sauces, flavored potato chips and cheeses.

Pacific Rim flavors will be hot this year, Whole Foods anticipated. That includes tropical fruits such as guava, dragon fruit and passionfruit star in smoothie bowls and beverages. Jackfruit is popular meat alternative, and monk fruit extract is being used as a low-calorie sweetener.

9: Technology

Technology will play a role both in creating food and connecting grocers to consumers.

Lab-grown meat will start to catch on in 2019, Supermarket News predicted. KFC tested lab-grown meat overseas in 2018, Supermarket News reported. Tyson Foods and Cargill are vested in this emerging industry, Supermarket News said.

Grocers and food brands will use technology to connect more with buyers, Tyson predicted. Just-Food predicted an increase in online ordering and automated kiosks. There will also be an expansion in ecommerce, especially with buy online, pickup in-store ordering, Acosta predicted.

10: Hot Item Roundup

Which products will be hot this year? Here’s a roundup of specific items mentioned in Tyson Foods, Supermarket Foods and Pinterest’s trend predictions:

More protein in more forms with trends in insect protein and meat cuts “from nose to tail”

Celtuce is the “new kale”

celtuce is also called “stem lettuce” because you eat the stem and not the leaves

Lager beer

demand for lager is driven by the craft beer boom, according to Supermarket News


consumers want the healthy and anti-inflammatory effects of elderberries, according to Pinterest


expect to see mushrooms in a variety of products, including coffee and chocolate bars, Pinterest said


this versatile gourd is also a superfood

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