2019 Lists of Food Trends & Forecasts: Part 2

Originally Published: January 2, 2019
Last Updated: February 4, 2021

Global Food Forums’ Annual List of Top 2019 Global Food Trends and Forecasts Lists: Part 2

Many trends directly related to our annual conferences: the Clean Label Conference, Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar, and Sweetener Systems Conference.

Also see other Top Food Trends Lists

2019 Trends: Part 2 are gathered from the following organizations : Rabobank, IFIC, Upserve Restaurant Insider, Kalsec, Euromonitor International.

Global Food Trends Survey: We Didn’t See That Coming
Source: Rabobank, Rabobank Research, Nicolas Fereday, Extracted from “Rabobank U.S. Talking Points – February 2019  ©Rabobank

Rabobank shared the findings of its annual “We Didn’t See that Coming” survey of food trends. Responses to the question: “In the world of food, what surprised you the most over the last twelve months?”, are based on a survey of more than “200 food industry players ‒ ranging from start-up founders to CEOs of zillion-dollar companies, and everyone in between.”

1. Everything Changes. Shock at the “accelerated pace of change” has been a constant theme since 2016; as food is clearly no longer the sleepy ‘safe bet’ category that it once was. From delivering new products, changing business models, adjusting to consumer shifts, investing in innovation in various forms, and facing tough realities, the world of food is markedly different.

2. The Future is Flexitarian. The wider range of plant-based alternatives to conventional animal foods (including milk, cheese, yogurt, etc.) is estimated to be USD 4.1bn (up 17% in the past twelve months). Equally impressive are the number of new entrants and players in the “new protein landscape.”

3. Food Loves Tech, Sometimes. Several of Robobank’s readers were sensing a thawing in relations between food and science. Still, others were less impressed by the love-in and suspected the appreciation of science was only happening if it first aligned (rather than challenged) one’s beliefs. For example, one was surprised by “the willingness of some food companies to ignore science and chase consumer fads.”

4. Campbell’s Implosion and the Ongoing Misfortunes of Big Food. Per one survey respondent, “Why is Big Food unable to adjust to the rapidly changing market?” when “they have all the research to know what is happening and what the future consumers are looking for.” Many were equally surprised at the “price multiple being paid to buy promising companies.

5. The “Wild West” of CBD. The “explosion of interest” in CBD (cannabidiol – a non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in cannabis and hemp) was something of surprise. As one noted, “I’ve been surprised by how quickly capital and ideas are flowing to the nascent and undefined world of CBD, both in food and beverages.”

6. “Nothing Surprises Me Anymore… One respondent commented, “all the previous trends continue to present themselves” (such as “plant-based protein”, “sustainability”, “organic”, “convenience”, “health & wellness”, “food waste”, etc.), and the “continued momentum of small food companies offering products with a purpose and how the consumer is gravitating towards actually doing what they say and buying these products.”

IFIC’s Five Global Food Trends to Watch in 2019

1. Discovering Our Foods’ Origin Stories. IFIC’s 2018 Food and Health Survey revealed over half of respondents indicate recognizing the ingredients, understanding where food is from and the number of ingredients as key factors that impact purchasing decisions.

2. Tackling Food Safety with Technology. Food safety concerns dominated the news last year, with two dozen food safety outbreaks investigated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — the highest number of outbreaks in more than a decade. This does not mean our food is less safe. Instead, our ability to detect contamination of food (i.e., traceability) has improved dramatically. One technology that has improved rates of traceability is the whole-genome sequencing (WGS).

3. Food Allergies: Actions and Reactions. WGS also stands to make positive contributions in the area of food allergens, such as peanuts. Food allergies are also attracting more attention on the regulatory front because the FDA is looking into labeling sesame as an allergen.

4. There’s No Sugar-Coating This Trend. The sweet stuff remains top-of-mind for many Americans, and people are responding to dietary guidance that recommends eating less added sugar. Seventy-seven percent say they are taking steps to limit or avoid sugars in their diet, and 59 percent view sugars negatively.

5. Voracious Vegetarians and Vegans. Plant-based eating is flourishing in American diets, with sales growing by 20 percent since 2017, a trend that shows few signs of abating. This interest in plant-based eating can also be applied to specific macronutrients. For example, the 2018 Food and Health Survey, nearly 70 percent of Americans stated that protein from plant sources is healthy, while less than 4 in 10 report that animal protein is healthy.

Upserve Restaurant Insider’s Top Restaurant Menu Trends
Upserve surveyed 2018 menu and sales data from nearly 9,000 restaurants to dig into what food trends drove the most orders, and which are being left behind in this review of 2019 global food trends.

1. CBD (Cannabidiol) — up 99%! It was only a matter of time before cannabidiol—or CBD—made its way into the restaurant industry. The non-psychoactive derivative from the cannabis plant has helped consumers looking for relief from inflammation, pain, anxiety, insomnia, seizures, spasms, and other conditions without the negative side effects of some pharmaceutical drugs.

2. Fermented Foods — up 149%. A recent obsession with gut health has consumers turning to naturally preserved foods. Fermentation has swept the restaurant industry, with a staggering 149 percent increase on Upserve customer menus, making it the biggest trend in 2018.

3. Jackfruit — up 52%. As an adaptable food, jackfruit is commonly used as a meat substitute in meatless dishes. Unripe jackfruit has a meat-like taste and texture, and when cooked the fruit is transformed into a savory meat substitute similar to pulled pork, perfect for tacos or sandwiches.

4. Fire-roasted Foods – up 19%. Fire roasting vegetables and fruits results in a depth of flavor not attainable with regular roasting or baking, creating a variety of smoky flavors for chefs to offer customers.

5. Ancient Grains — up 11%. Grains such as teff, einkorn, amaranth, millet or spelt may sound rather exotic to the average foodie, but health-conscious consumers are well versed in these carbohydrates that provide more nutrition than a simple grain.

Kalsec’s Top Global Food Trends & Predictions for 2019 
2019 will be a year for specificity. This means global flavors from specific regions of the world, naming pepper varietals in foods and a preference for not only clean label, but clear label.

1. Globally Inspired: More region-specific flavors going global and entering product development as consumers continue to travel the world and try new foods. Regional flavors include West African, Pacific Rim and Latin American.

2. Spicy Specificity: Hot and spicy flavors are getting more specific and complex. Consumers want more than just ‘hot’ or ‘mild.’ They want specific pepper varietals like ancho, poblano, guajillo and more. They are looking for both heat AND flavor from these peppers and want to pair them with other sweet, savory and tangy flavors.

3. Fermented Flavors: As consumers become increasingly interested in ethnic foods, fermented flavors have also seen a rise in popularity. Providing probiotic properties and umami flavors, fermented foods are showing up on restaurant menus and grocery store shelves more often.

4. Clear Label Attributes: Consumer ideals on what should and should not be on a label is ever-changing. Consumers seemingly prefer more transparency on labels. They want to know more about processing techniques, people and animal welfare, and what is being done to improve environmental impact in the production process. We call these types of information clear label attributes as they are an evolution of clean label attributes.

5. Plant-Based Proteins: The trend for plant-based proteins is expected to expand even more in 2019. More companies are widening their vegetarian and vegan options to attract flexitarian and other dieting consumers. This means traditional vegetarian options like the black bean burger are being joined by plant-based proteins made to look and taste like actual meat.

6. Alcohol Infusions: Driven by Millennials, the trend for alcohol in food will be more apparent in 2019. Foodies are finding that alcohol flavors pair well with savory and sweet notes. Tying in to the craft beer craze, consumers, now more than ever, are interested in specific flavor pairings with their favorite foods. On the opposite side of this spectrum, we are also seeing an increase in interest for non-alcoholic artisan cocktails and beverages.

7. Handcrafted at a Premium: Foods that tell a story or offer additional benefits are increasingly preferred by consumers. The rise of craft products like beer, cheese, baked goods and meat have led to an artisan food movement that reaches far beyond traditional homemade products. Consumers are looking to splurge more often and want signature crafted and premium products that tell a story they can relate to.

Euromonitor International’s Top 10 Global Consumer Trends in 2019 (Euromonitor is a market research provider)

1. Age Agnostic.Boundaries of old age are shifting. As people live longer and take better care of themselves, older consumers feel and want to be treated as younger.

2. Back to Basics for Status.Shoppers are searching for authentic products and experiences, moving away from overt materialism to simplicity as well as from generic to higher quality products.

3. Conscious Consumer.What used to be the domain of ethically-positioned, niche producers is now being embraced by conventional companies through higher welfare products.

4. Digitally Together.As our digital capabilities and comfort using new technologies grows, so will the potential of what can be created or experienced together, but remotely.

5. Everyone’s an Expert.Whereas previously shoppers relied on a certain brand or information source, now companies must constantly innovate to entice more inquisitive shoppers.

6. Finding My JOMO.The Fear Of Missing Out has now given place to the Joy Of Missing Out. Consumers want to protect their mental wellbeing, disconnecting from technology and prioritizing what they truly want and enjoy doing.

7. I Can Look After Myself.As people become more self-sufficient, they take preventative measures against illness, unhappiness and discomfort without consulting a professional.

8. I Want a Plastic-free World. The push for a plastic-waste-free society has gained momentum, creating a virtuous circle where businesses gain by improving sustainability.

9. I Want it Now!Consumers seek instant gratification and frictionless experiences that mesh with their lifestyles, allowing them to dedicate more time to their professional or social lives.

10. Loner Living.More people – especially older consumers – across the world break the stigma of living alone and embrace their independent lifestyles.