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Top Food and Beverage Trends for 2020

Seaweed salad with sesame seeds in a plate with chopsticks.

The food and drink we consume are in a constant state of flux. Similar to the clothes we wear, food and drink have fashion trends too, continually changing and always adapting.

Over the last couple of years, the UK has seen items such as avocado, prosecco and plant-based products making an appearance on our dinner tables – as these are deemed as the ‘hottest’ (not literally) food and drinks to order.

In order to keep up to date on the next biggest food and drink trends, we collaborated with Tony Hunter, a Food Futurist for Future Cubed.

We have listed the top food and drink trends to watch out for to make sure you and your meals are staying on top of your food game!

Top Emerging Food Trends

Meat / Plant Products

Delicious sweet potato burgers with smashed avocado.

Plant-based meat products certainly were the flavour of 2019, but for some, going without meat is a bridge too far! Well, now we have hybrid/blended products that deliver on meat flavour while incorporating the sustainability and health benefits of plant-based ingredients. These products will grow in popularity and represent a “soft entry” point for those who want to reduce their meat consumption but can’t go as far as a full plant-based diet.
Expect to see continuing innovation with everything from beef with pea proteins, chicken with chickpeas or a hybrid superfood quinoa meat product.


Salad with seaweed wakame, teapot and cup on black slate.

We’re accustomed to seeing seaweed around our sushi, but that’s just one of an enormous number of uses for this versatile food. In fact, microalgae have one of the highest protein contents of any food, containing all the essential amino acids, as well as omega 3 fatty acids, carotenoids, vitamins, polysaccharides, and other beneficial ingredients. Among other things, it’s claimed to have cognitive health, the nervous system benefits as well as helping children’s development.
Seaweed is now showing up in food products from snacks, jerky, pasta, even as caviar! Any “ick” factor seems to be rapidly declining as long as it’s not a 100% seaweed product in which case people worry it’ll taste too “fishy”.

Foods for Health, not just Fuel

We are now increasingly looking for functional foods or nutraceuticals that will contribute to our overall wellness. This trend is being driven by the ageing population and the increasing realization of what we eat influences our mental and physical health. It covers everything from fermented foods to ‘moon milk’, made from milk, spices and adaptogens (compounds promoting stress resistance) and drunk before going to bed.
Combined with the gut health trend, functional foods have enormous growth potential in 2020 and beyond.


Gluten Free loaf of breads on display in a health food shop.

Even though gluten-free diets are only a lifestyle choice, rather than a true health need for those not clinically gluten intolerant, the trend looks set to continue in 2020.
We saw cauliflower in pizza crusts in 2019, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg of the possible alternative flours. This range includes banana, chickpea, tigernut (a root vegetable), coconut, sorghum, quinoa and various nut flours including almond, cashew and macadamia. Even more exotic grains like fonio, a grain native to Africa, could turn up like flour.
With the wellness megatrend in full swing expect to see more “boosted” products with added protein, fibre and other functional and nutritional benefits.

Snacks go Healthy

Healthy vegan snack with scandinavian rye crispbread, homemade peanut butter and slices of bananas.

The snacking trend shows no signs of abating in 2020 with the Mintel Consumer Snacking UK (2019) report showing that 66% of adults snack at least once every day. An Innova report shows that nearly a third of millennials replace meals with snacks because they’re busy, Gen-X consumers want to cut back on their sugar consumption, and boomers simply want an overall healthier diet. All of this means that health-conscious, busy consumers are looking for convenient ways to satisfy their hunger and boost nutrition.
To answer this Comax Flavors believe that consumers are on an “insatiable quest” for better for you plant-based foods. But the taste is still king with flavours such as Maple Bacon Ranch, Honey Sriracha, and Lemon Truffle to lead the charge in 2020.

Top Emerging Drink Trends

“Clean” Keto to Rise in Popularity

Salad with avocado and pecans.

Despite ranking nearly last in the US News and World Report’s 2020 ranking of best diets, the Keto diet shows no sign of decline. The main issues with the diet are the potentially high amounts of saturated fats and low fibre content leading to concerns over heart disease and adverse microbiome effects. To counter some of these claims, “clean” keto is starting to be promoted. This version focuses on using avocados, nuts and seeds as fat sources, instead of “dirty” keto, centred around foods like beef brisket, butter, cheese and the ever-popular bacon.

“What is keto” was the second most popular google search term in the US in 2019, perhaps “what is clean keto” would top the 2020 charts!

Meantime expect to see more products like Sated, Ready to Drink “Complete Keto Meal Shake” with “an optimized blend of fats, proteins, and fibre” released to address this market.

Brain Health

Wellness is a major overarching trend in Food and Beverage, and this includes mental as well as physical wellness. Enter Nootropics, or “smart drugs” which are substances that can boost brain performance, including cognition and memory.

The most popular nootropic is actually very well known…caffeine! Others such as L-theanine, creatine, Ginkgo balboa and Rhodiola and the omega-3 fatty acids are also popular.

In the United States, Information Resources Incorporated (IRI) / SPINS sales data showed these functional ingredients increasing 37% in sales or $383m across retail channels last year. With more and more people feeling “stressed out” and/or looking for an edge at work nootropic products, particularly beverages are set for the same or greater growth in 2020.

The New “Cool” is 0%!

Getting drunk is no longer considered “cool” by younger generations, and indeed they’re drinking less than the older generations, particularly boomers. But the usual substitute, soft drinks, are far from cool! Enter things such as “non-alcoholic spirits” and a range of new soft drink flavour ingredients including pink peppercorns, cider vinegar, garden mint, sour cherry, Darjeeling tea, nutmeg, watermelon, basil, peach, ginger, lavender, fennel, ginseng and cardamom to name but a few.
Given these generational changes, the low and no alcohol market is expanding worldwide and expect to see that continue in 2020. Beer is the most popular low alcohol beverage and wine is catching up fast, but the “non-alcoholic spirits” and “non-alcoholic aperitifs” are the most exciting segments.

Gut Feelings are In!

It used to be that the only good bacteria were dead bacteria! But no longer. Gut health is a massively growing area with more and more evidence accumulating on the link between the gut microbiome and everything from disease to general physical and mental health. Couple this with the growing personal microbiome testing trend and you have a recipe for rapid growth!
The dairy aisle has been sleepy for quite a while, with plant-based invaders the major shakeup. But with the gut health trend gaining traction new products like Good Culture probiotic shots are something to watch. They’re based on kefir; a fermented milk product made using a complex symbiotic microbial culture, plus functional ingredients. It comes in flavours such as pineapple + turmeric, vanilla + collagen, chai + matcha and chocolate + chaga claiming to offer functional benefits from “focused energy” to skin and joint health.

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