Core nutrition trends in 2020 and beyond demand more from innovators

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / ThitareeSarmkasat
© Getty Images / ThitareeSarmkasat

Related tags: Nutrition trends

As research and development, manufacturing and marketing centers on a new decade in food and nutrition, we explore what market research provider, Euromonitor International, believes will be the strategic themes to look out for in the coming years.

What’s next in the world of food and nutrition?

Food provenance and the country of origin

As consumer lifestyles in different nations converge, the internationalization of food is leading food preferences to align and become more homogenous. However, with widespread travel a norm for many, consumers have the ability to try a selection of new cuisines and foodstuffs.

Simultaneously, consumers are also adopting increased awareness and curiosity in the rediscovery of local food, a trend Euromonitor International describes as going “back to local”. For individual countries, the emphasis is placed on accessing locally indigenous or native ingredients, food that is grown on local farms and that is sourced from local manufacturers.

Returning to our country’s roots is also high on the agenda for consumers in 2020. Brands are launching new varieties of nutritious items using conventional flavors, traditional authentic food and old-fashioned and nostalgic ingredients. 

As globalization continues, we can expect to see an increased interest in exotic flavors and food preferences, with adventure in food becoming prominent amongst consumers.

Food tech and digital economy

The arrival, rapid evolution and innovation of food technology is driving change in diet and nutrition. The digital and data spheres are affecting brand engagement, sustainability and buying experiences.

Data-driven health is set to be big in 2020, with brands creating personalized nutrition options that blend science and food to create customized dietary plans that are specific for every individual. Brands may use DNA and surveys, for example, to produce dedicated nutrition plans based on your unique makeup, personalized analysis, eating habits, and diet and lifestyle.

Digital traceability is also helping brands provide transparency throughout the supply chain, which appeals to consumers’ increasing need to know where their food is from. 

Functional food and regulations

Today’s consumers expect more from their food and the brands that create them. Gut health and personalized nutrition now go beyond digestive health. Gut-brain-axis, for example, suggests the impact food may have on consumers’ moods, while new product launches are set to emphasize their mood-enhancing claims. Microbiome testing is also being used as a promising tool for personalized nutrition in the future.

In 2019, Euromonitor International’s Health and Nutrition Survey found that 51% of global respondents asked, get their vitamins and nutrients from foods, rather than taking supplements. Yet, the fortified functional snacking segment has the best growth prospects with emerging markets, particularly Latin America.

Functional nutrients are also on the rise. As consumer interest in specific nutrients is on the up, coupled with the reality that all regions are falling short of recommended fiber intake, and with protein moving from the niche to the mainstream industry — food functionality is a priority.

In terms of regulations and labeling, some Latin American countries have implemented black octagonal warning labels. Pressures for taxation are increasing around the world as obesity rates rise and the impact on health costs causes governments to act.

Advertising and marketing are also seeing change as marketing tools for children-targeted advertising sees reform. In Chile, children's characters have been banned from items with black warning labels and advertising on TV for minors has been limited.

Plant-Based eating and alternative proteins

Animal welfare is a core concern for many consumers, with labels and processes now coming to fruition to indicate to shoppers the better treatment of animals. 

Meat and dairy alternatives also offer an expanding selection of substitutes as the segment grows, particularly in emerging countries such as Brazil and Mexico. Oats, soy, rice and nut options are popular, along with vegan, lactose and hormone-free dairy alternative products.

Lab-cultured meat and meat analogous developments in taste and texture have spurred a new generation of meat substitutes. 

Alternative proteins are likely to remain an important theme for decades as they sit at the center of ethical, health and environmental drivers. While, at present, the alternative space affects the meat and dairy industries, moving forward, we expect to see a similar shift in fish and seafood.

Protein alternative products are in the “honeymoon period”, Euromonitor International reveals, as they are seen as better for the planet. Looking ahead, the segment is expected to evolve, as consumers will want to see more natural varieties replace highly processed options.

Sustainable eating and environment

Conscious consumption, which revolves around purchasing with purpose, questioning where food comes from, and the impact that food and nutrition choices have on the environment, is gathering momentum. 

Consumers are making a point of seeking our ethical brands. From a brand perspective, therefore, food manufacturers need to focus on delivering positive social and environmental impacts.

Environmental concerns is one of the main reasons consumers opt for a vegetarian diet, with healthy eating and sustainability somewhat intrinsically linked. Brazil came out top (along with France), with 60% of respondents agreeing that environmental concerns was one of the reasons they decided to follow a vegetarian diet.

Mindful eating and food beliefs

Enter the era of clean labeling and the end of minimally processed food, through mindful eating. In 2019, we explored the strategic theme of mindful eating​ and balanced diets, which highlights the importance of the simplification of ingredients. 

The post-better-for-you world focuses on healthy eating, which includes balanced, free-from, specialized diet and GMO-free diets. New and ancient ingredients are going back to their roots, which allow manufacturers to explore, innovate and give products a health-kick.

New and niche ingredients such as beetroot, lentil, turmeric, morinda, khai nam are on the rise. Superfoods including kiwi, blueberries, cranberries, rosehip and baobab are also proving popular. But it is the ancient grains and seeds including chia, quinoa, amaranth, millet, spelt, sorghum and kamut, and teff (tipped to become the next popular ingredient by Euromonitor International) that show significant promise for novel launches and innovation in marketing campaigns.

Consumer segmentation and the era of eating out

Consumer segmentation in the era of eating occasions is a big one for 2019 too. NutraIngredients-LATAM explored the importance of life-stage nutrition​ as a core theme, particularly in the younger and older generations.

Altering the relationship between people and their food, changing lifestyles and eating habits is carving out a place for targeted nutrition as it relates to how people think about eating.

The number of people aged 65 or older is expected to be 991 million by 2030, which amounts to a 47% increase from 2018 to 2030. The infant demographic is also a key market, with those aged between 0-12 reaching 1.72 billion globally by 2030.

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