Foodie fashion for hungry hipsters: 9 food trends to watch

By Katy Askew

- Last updated on GMT

Pic: GettyImages/Rawpizel
Pic: GettyImages/Rawpizel

Related tags Trends trendspotting

From seaweed snacks to ‘clean’ keto, Future Cubed food futurist Tony Hunter forecasts what consumer trends will shape food and beverage innovation.

Future Cubed takes a distinctive approach to forecasting that aims to ‘challenge your thinking’ by focusing on a ten year timeframe.

“Ten years is useful because it’s far enough out to ditch most of our preconceptions but close enough to seem real.

“This timeframe enables us to challenge our thinking and our preconceptions of what is possible.”​ – Future Cubed

In partnership with Wren Kitchens​, Hunter released a report predicting food and drink innovations that will prove all the rage in 2020 and perhaps beyond.

Here are his top picks:

#1: Hybrid meat and plant-based products

Plant-based products saw exponential growth in 2019 but looking to the future, Hunter expects hybrid or blended products – that contain meat and plant protein – to grow in popularity.

These hybrids offer the best of both worlds – a meaty taste alongside the health and sustainability benefits of plant proteins.

“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.”

#2: Surging seaweed

The report predicts a surge in consumer interest in seaweed products.

Shoppers have become accustomed to seeing seaweed in sushi – but the full potential of this versatile ingredient is yet to be realised.

Hunter believes that seaweed’s success will be underpinned by its functional qualities.

“Seaweed has one of the highest protein contents of any food. Among other things, it’s claimed to have cognitive health and nervous system benefits, as well as helping children's development.”

Seaweed - getty inusuke

#3 – Food for health, not fuel

Food for fuel is no longer enough. Functional foods are becoming a mainstay of the food industry as consumers come to expect products that contribute to overall health and wellness.

“This trend is being driven by the aging population and the increasing realization of what we eat influences our mental and physical health.”

The food for health trend covers everything from fermented foods to ‘moon milk’ which is made from milk, spices and adaptogens (compounds promoting stress resistance) and is usually drunk before going to bed.

#4 – Gluten free and the rise of ‘alternative flours’

While gluten-free products have been on the shelf for some time, they are expected to continue to grow in popularity throughout 2020 and beyond.

This is being supported by the growing number of people who go gluten-free as a lifestyle choice rather than a clinical necessity.

This ongoing shift is likely to give rise to a wide-range of ‘alternative flours’.

Cauliflower pizza crusts may have proven popular in 2019 – but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Expect to see flowers made from ingredients like banana, chickpea, tigernut, coconut, sorghum, quinoa and various nut flours including almond, cashew and macadamia. Exotic grains like fonio, a grain native to Africa, are also set to make waves.

GettyImages-ThitareeSarmkasat banana flour
Expect to see more exotic flours on the menu ©GettyImages-ThitareeSarmkasat

#5 – Healthy snacking

The snacking trend shows no signs of abating in 2020. The Mintel Consumer Snacking UK report shows 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.

But snacks are in for a healthy makeover. 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.”

#6 – ‘Clean’ keto

Keto diets have increased in popularity. However, the trend has come under fire for potentially high amounts of saturated fats and low fibre content. This has given rise to concerns over heart disease.

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. It contrasts to ‘dirty’ keto, which is centred on foods like beef brisket, butter, cheese and bacon.

#7 – Boosting brain health with nootropics

Wellness, the overarching trend in food and beverage innovation, extends beyond physical health to include mental wellbeing.

Enter nootropics, substances that can boost brain performance, including cognition and memory.

These ‘smart drugs’ or ‘cognitive enhancers’ are gaining traction in the nutraceutical sector and look set to tip to mainstream food and beverage marker.

#8 – Low-to-no is the new ‘cool’

cocktail margarita black background

Younger generations are drinking less alcohol.

Hunter observes: “Getting drunk is no longer considered cool by younger generations and indeed they’re drinking less than the older generations, particularly boomers.”

However, the usual substitute – soft drinks – are not the big winners of this tendency. Alcohol-free spirits and 0% ABV beverages are proving popular among consumers who want the sophisticated palate of cocktails, wines and beers without the alcohol.

#9 – Go with your gut

“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,”​ Hunter noted.

Pre- and probiotic foods are making their way into a wide range of categories as mainstream consumers embrace the importance of gut health.

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