The start of a new decade brings a time of reflection and positive change, including what will influence the food decisions we make. Aramark, the largest U.S.-based food service company, asked its top chefs to share their thoughts about the top food trends of 2020. These trends are cutting edge, and may not always go mainstream, but they help influence what you’ll find in a grocery store or café near you in the months ahead.
Plant-Forward Takes a Giant Leap
As more people focus on their general health and the environment, putting more plants on the plate is a natural way to reduce the amount of meat in a meal. For example:
- Milk Alternatives: Mainstream options like almond and soy milk will continue to be joined by more and more plant-based alternatives such as oat, cashew and sunflower milk.
- Flour Alternatives: Watch as flour variations made from fruits and vegetables, like banana flour and split-pea flour, become more available.
- Protein Options: Soy isn’t the only plant-based protein in town. Mung bean, hempseed and avocado will have a moment in 2020.
- Syrup Swaps: Need a touch of natural sweetness? More people are looking beyond honey, to alternatives made from pomegranates, coconut and monk fruit, to name a few.
- New Butters and Spreads: High-quality, traditional butter is enjoying a resurgence. At the same time, the marketplace is awash with new plant-based options. Look for heart-healthier spreads made from the oils of olives, avocados, almonds and more.
Sustainability Takes Center Stage
Consumers want to know the story behind their food. In addition to shorter ingredient lists, products will showcase how they match up with evolving values in a few ways:
- Plant Inclusion: In addition to being good for you, plant-forward meals help reduce greenhouse gas emissions that harm our atmosphere. They also help preserve other vital resources like land, energy and water.
- Ethical Sourcing: Food labels go beyond nutritional information. Increasingly, they provide details on other practices like fair trade, animal welfare and local sourcing. Expect this trend to continue as more and more ingredients and products highlight additional information about where they came from, how they were grown or raised and the individuals or communities who provided them.
- Packaging: The concern the public has with plastic pollution is putting pressure on food companies to find sustainable alternatives. Whether it’s to-go boxes, or at-home leftover containers, expect to see more of a move toward eco-friendly and reusable materials. Aramark is committed to reducing waste before it’s generated. We are reducing single-use plastics, introducing reusable containers and working with suppliers to innovate packaging.
Return of the Superfood
In 2020, there will be a renewed focus on functional properties of food and what they can do for your body. For example:
- More products featuring berries and olive oil—two sources of antioxidants that fight disease and promote healthy aging. There are also foods thought to help improve and enhance cognitive function. A few examples are turmeric, wild blueberries, salmon, broccoli, walnuts, egg yolks and seaweed.
- The rise of healthy indulgences—snacks and other products enriched with nutrient-dense foods. These better-for-you foods may have a dose of added superfood, like spinach-based pasta. Another example is high-protein ice cream, which contains less sugar and fewer calories than the traditional scoop.
As international travel becomes more accessible there will be a globalization of flavors. For example:
- New tastes and ingredients, used in unique combinations, with greater focus on the flavor source. Instead of sweeping terms like “Mexican,” there might be references to regions, such as Veracruz, Oaxaca or Yucatan. Similarly, “Southern” food may be identified as having roots in Appalachian, Lowcountry or Creole cuisine.
As with any food and nutrition trend, the American Heart Association encourages the importance of eating for overall health.
“Exploring Aramark’s 2020 food megatrends can be a fun and delicious way to try new foods and incorporate plant-forward options into your diet, but there are no individual magic foods to make you healthier,” said American Heart Association Chief Medical Officer for Prevention Eduardo Sanchez, M.D., M.P.H., FAAFP. “For optimal health, consume a diet with a variety of foods, including vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains and healthy protein.”