Dec 31,  

Quality Food Awards - UK

Ditch the avocado, duckweed and turmeric the new superfoods for 2017

50 years ago, so-called futurologists predicted we would all be walking around in silver space suits, and eating nutrient dense dehydrated capsules in place of real food – a bit like those Smash adverts of old.

Well thankfully that prediction was way off the mark, but according to Lucie Greene, the director of top ad agency J Walter Thompson’s Innovation Group, there are a number of key food trends that we are likely to see much more of in 2017.

She predicts a new wave of veganism will develop in the next year, which will see it evolving beyond simply soy products to more natural and unprocessed alternatives. “Jackfruit, a spiny-shelled Asian fruit that’s related to the fig has been making an increasingly regular appearance on menus around the country as the fruit’s texture makes a convincing, all natural alternative to pork,” she says. Other foodstuffs being adopted by vegans include coconut jerky, cauliflower nuggets or any of the nut milks currently sweeping the country.

Developing alternative protein sources which put less of a demand on resources for the world’s burgeoning population is another big food trend which we will likely be hearing much more of in 2017, according to Greene. Pea protein, for example, is sustainable, non-allergenic and natural, with health brands such as Bolthouse Farms and Bob’s Red Mill beginning to feature peas.

“The real story, however, is the Beyond Burger, the much hyped burger alternative that even bleeds like real meat,” says Greene. “It’s made from pea protein isolates and recently became available in the meat section at Whole Foods Market.

Duckweed may sound more like something you’d scrape off the bottom of your duckpond than the latest superfood, but it’s apparently going to be one of the next go-to healthy eating trends of 2017.  Packed with protein, and boasting more amino acids than other plant-based proteins, including soy, consumer awareness is currently low, but Florida-based Parabel plans to change all that with the launch of Lentein, a duckweed-based protein powder.

Another protein source that is altogether more familiar with consumers is shitake mushrooms. Colorado-based food tech company Myco technologys has engineered a strain of the fungus which produces above average levels of protein, and the resulting shitake powder which has a neutral flavour can be added to everything from breads and tortillas to sauces.

Ayurvedic eating is another trend that is becoming increasingly prevalent, according to Greene, and we are likely to see at least some elements of it being adopted by consumers in the coming year  An ancient Indian practice which uses natural ingredients such as ghee and ginger to promote balance and happiness, it incorporates juice fasts and oil pulling.

Recently New York’s first ayurvedic restaurant opened up and we are likely to see this trend coming across the pond too. Certainly if the trend for turmeric, which is used in the ayurvedic system to fight disease is anything to go by, more of us will be adopting elements of the Ayurvedic diet.

“Ayurvedic eating aligns with the next generation of wellness consumers, who are becoming more intentional about consumption and looking to foods with a function,” confirms Greene.

As the wellness trend continues to flourish, even the alcohol industry is muscling its way in, with a range of lower calorie, healthier drinks. “Craft brewers and major labels alike are lining up to offer these new wellness-branded products,” claims Greene. For example, Anheuser Busch InBev recently acquired SpikedSeltzer, while the Boston Beer Company launched truly Spiked and Sparkling earlier in the year.

“Although arguably the least likely to be thought of as a ‘healthy’ sector, alcohol’s foray into health conscious branding shows just how thoroughly consumers have adopted the wellness lifestyle.”

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