Busy and stressful lives have forced consumers into making unhealthy choices for decades, but the environment is slowly changing for the better. Recent global events have brought upon a new need for better nutrition, eco-friendly consumers are highlighting the importance of healthy living for the planet, and more animal lovers are deciding on plant-based diets. In turn, the health food industry experienced great changes, giving rise to new trends and tendencies in the process. Here are just some of the top ones affecting the industry in 2022 and beyond:
Food for better gut health
Probiotics support the good bacteria in the gut, while prebiotics offer more fibre for an improved digestive tract. As gut health becomes more important in the healthy living community, more probiotic and prebiotic foods are appearing in markets and stores. Options such as kefir, kvass, and kimchi are rising in popularity due to their promise of better and healthier digestion. Even restaurants are planning their menus around gut-supporting foods, thus making probiotics and prebiotics a powerful marketing tool for grocers, packaged food sellers, and restaurants to utilise in the upcoming months in an effort to attract and retain consumers.
Slowly becoming more prominent across the globe, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a condition that could lead to extreme digestive tract issues. Whether it’s due to better diagnostic processes or the increased consumption of processed foods and preservatives, IBS and other dietary sensitivities have become surprisingly common. As a result, diets focused on alleviating the symptoms of these digestive tract problems are rising in popularity, including paleo, keto, and low FODMAP diets. Retailers are following this trend, selling more IBS-friendly products free of lactose and gluten, two of the most common triggers, and restaurants are responding with low-FODMAP dishes to cater to a wider audience.
A rise in alternative spreads
Slowly taking up shelf space in mainstream grocery stores, alternative spreads seem to be one of the biggest food trends this year. Consumers often find them healthier and more appetising, which may explain why these spreads are slowly making their way into healthy eateries and traditional restaurants as well. Alternative spreads are most commonly tahini, chickpea, cashew, almond, pumpkin, and similar kinds of butter. As more consumers turn to paleo and keto diets, and individuals continue demanding higher food transparency in terms of the environmental impact of ingredients, alternative butters and spreads will likely continue to grow.
New need for supplements
Thanks to the way our food is processed and produced, the average consumer simply can’t ingest enough vital nutrients through their diet alone. For that reason, healthy vitamins and supplements have become a staple aspect of their daily lives. From probiotics to support gut health and supplements to boost immunity to specific vitamins and minerals to fight any deficiencies, these food alternatives proved to be an incredibly effective solution. A balanced and nutritious diet can easily be maintained with the help of vitamins and supplements, which is why they are only expected to grow in the future.
Different flour grain types
New types of flour are also being produced and gaining traction in the health food industry. Alternative flours mainly started as a craze in trendy restaurants where they were marketed as the healthiest option, but they have become readily available over time and consumers can now easily find them even in mainstream grocery stores. While their health benefits are substantiated, what’s more important is the fact that alternative flours presented a great substitute for individuals with wheat or gluten allergies and intolerances. These options include buckwheat, chickpea, oat, rice, quinoa, coconut, tapioca, and similar flours.
Increased sales of nuts
While they might have lost their popularity for a while due to the increase in allergies, nuts and seeds have made a huge comeback this year. Not only do they provide healthy fats and concentrated protein, but they are thought to be great brain boosters as well, possibly explaining their sudden rise in prominence. Professional chefs have long avoided these ingredients because of food sensitivities, but greater food transparency now means that menus are more detailed and customers can check the ingredients of the dish themselves. When consumers are responsible for their allergies, there’s no more fear, and nuts and seeds become common ingredients once again.
Dairy substitutes for smoothies
With each passing year, smoothies become more and more popular. The combination of fruits and vegetables, high fibre, and sheer convenience all contribute to this tendency. But what makes smoothies a bit different this year is the increased use of non-dairy milk for their production. Consumers now prefer alternatives such as oat, almond, rice, and coconut milk, whether it’s caused by allergies and intolerances or a need for healthier diets. But dairy-free smoothies aren’t only sold in vegan eateries any longer. From grocery stores to chain restaurants, non-dairy smoothies can now be found and enjoyed nearly everywhere.
As the outlook on health evolves, so do the most popular food trends. Consumers are becoming more mindful, ingredients are chosen more carefully, and alternatives are gaining prominence over traditional solutions, meaning that the health food industry will only continue to grow in 2022 and beyond.