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2020 Food forecasts focus on plants, sustainable food stories

2020 food trend forecasts call for continued growing interest in plant-based dishes, sustainable food sources.

3 min read

Consumer Insights

2020 Food forecasts focus on plants, sustainable food stories

Janet Forgrieve

It’s that time of year when culinary specialists share their forecasts for the food trends they expect will take off in the new year. From the Specialty Food Association to Whole Foods Market, the food world has shared insights into specialty food categories and dishes likely to win with consumers in 2020.

Late last year, the Specialty Food Association’s Trendspotter Panel issued its list of six hot trends for 2020.

Not surprisingly, the first item on the list had to do with plant-based food. The rapid rise of vegan meat replacements was one of the biggest food stories in 2019 as leaders Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods landed in more grocery cases and restaurant lineups. That rise is on track to continue in 2020 as more players join the game and consumer awareness grows.

But the Trendspotter Panel also sees a bigger role for fruits and vegetables in their more natural forms, as consumers take a closer look at supply chains, water usage and food safety.

Whole Foods Market’s 2020 trends forecast also included plant-based innovation, stressing that food makers would continue to look beyond soy to mung beans, grains and other alternative protein sources.

Plant-based ingredients also play a key role in another trend identified by Whole Foods – the rise of blended burgers made with 25% to 30% mushrooms and other plant foods. Blended burgers and other meat dishes that incorporate more veggies are designed to appeal to flexitarians who are looking to trim but not necessarily eliminate animal products from their diets.

As more consumers worry about the effects of climate change, both the Specialty Food Association and Whole Foods stressed sustainability as a driver of 2020 food trends.

At its Summer Fancy Food Show last June, the Specialty Food Association identified younger consumers as a driving force when it comes to food trends around sustainability.

Gen Z is expected to lead in growth for more sustainable snacks and other food items made using ingredients that would once have been tossed out, according to the Trendspotter Panel’s report. Pizzas topped with veggie scraps, tea made from avocado leaves and whey-based beverages are some examples of foods that are already available, and the report calls for more such innovations in 2020.

And regenerative farming topped Whole Foods’ list. The category can include a variety of farming methods, but they’re all focused on sequestering carbon instead of releasing it into the atmosphere and improving the health of the soil to enable it to grow healthier food.

Other hot trend forecasts for 2020

From the Specialty Food Association:

  • Fermented condiments
  • Prebiotic foods
  • Anchovies and other alternative protein sources

From Whole Foods Market:

  • Flours made from nuts and veggies
  • Single-serve chilled snacks
  • More sophisticated kids’ menus

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