From packaging to shopping to the flavors themselves, here’s what to look for in terms of nutrition in 2018.
In many respects, the world of nutrition doesn’t change as much as some headlines would have you believe. Vegetables have always been good for you, and there are very, very few paradigm shifts of the “everything you thought you knew about nutrition is wrong” sort. Very few. That said, here are six interesting shifts that may change how you shop and eat in 2018:
Blockchains. Want more transparency about where your food comes from? You may be getting it soon. Blockchain technology is used in some nonfood industries to track every transaction, improving efficiency and security. The food industry — both in the U.S. and globally — is starting to adopt the technology as well. This will allow food to be tracked along the whole supply chain — farmers, packers, distributors, processors, grocers, restaurants and exporters. One big upside from this is likely to be food safety — foodborne illness outbreaks could be traced back to the source more quickly with blockchain practices.
Minimalist packaging. Isn’t it amazing how much stuff can be crammed onto a food label? You often have to wade through a lot of health claims, certification stamps and what amounts to a lot of advertising and marketing in order to find the really useful information: the Nutrition Facts Panel and the ingredient list. Fortunately, a growing move toward minimalist packaging may make your trips to the grocery store less confusing.
Food waste. Food waste is a big problem in America, with as much as 40 percent of food produced for human consumption never making it to a human stomach. This isn’t good for the environment, the economy or people suffering from food insecurity. Look for more food startups to put otherwise unwanted foods — “ugly” produce, underappreciated types of seafood and spent grains from beer brewing — to use in new food products.
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Plant-based options. More people are choosing to eat more plant-based meals, whether they are vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian. This means more restaurants — from fast-food chains to high-end establishments — are offering plant-based menu options. While the latest trends in this area are meat substitutes (sometimes called meat analogs) that could fool even a committed carnivore, expect to see more menu items based on vegetables, pulses (beans and lentils), nuts, seeds, grains and traditional soy foods like tofu. The growth of “bowl food” restaurants — such as Seattle’s Sweetgrass, Evergreens and Juicy Café — neatly and deliciously brings many of those ingredients together.
New flavors. In the 2018 Food Forecast released by Ketchum PR, they say that the “lipstick effect” — the economic and psychological theory that when we are facing an economic uncertainty we cut back on costly purchases and turn to small, inexpensive indulgences like lipstick — is emerging on the food front in these times of global uncertainty. Consumers are splurging on things like gourmet coffee and seeking out “luxurious spices and flavors” whether cooking at home or dining out.
Shopping online. Between Instacart, Amazon Fresh, Blue Apron, Hello Fresh and similar programs, there are more ways than ever to buy groceries online — either in their traditional form or packaged as meal kits. Don’t care to cook? There are more ways than ever to buy heat-and-eat meals online, no matter what your dietary or taste preferences. Expect to see expanding choices and increased convenience. That’s great whether you hate fighting the after-work grocery store crowds, want to schedule groceries to arrive the day you get home from vacation, or have health issues that make it hard to leave the house.