The end of 2015 ushers in an opportunity to reflect on what has transpired over the past year, but also to look ahead toward 2016.
Using the food trends and ingredients we’ve seen over the past 12 months as a guideline, here we peer into the crystal ball to predict values that food and beverage brands will prioritize over the coming year.
In 2016, the new paradigm of seafood will be sustainable, traceable and responsibly caught. The ocean’s fish stocks are becoming wildly unbalanced, as overfishing of covetable species like cod, sea bass, salmon, tuna and more runs rampant. As a result, we expect 2016 to be rife in brands that target consumers seeking seafood they can feel good about eating.
For example, new brand Salty Girl Seafood, a winner of the coveted Fish 2.0 business competition, recently launched a line of pouched and frozen products that are sourced directly from the small-scale fishermen who caught them. Likewise, Safe Catch Tuna guarantees transparency in sourcing by testing every single tuna they catch for mercury contamination.
The coolest part? Pioneering brands are figuring out ways to make fish farming environmentally friendly and low-impact.
Brands doing it right:
Salty Girl Seafood
Safe Catch Tuna
Consumers have heard the stat that nearly half of all food produced in the United States ends up in the landfill, causing them to alter their habits (like buying food more frequently to prevent waste and collecting food scraps to stew into cooking broth). Understandably, shoppers expect more out of their food brands, too.
What are manufacturers doing in their own facilities to stem the tide of food waste? Nutrition bar brand Regrained uses spent grain from California-based craft breweries to form the base of its bars; WTRMLN WTR is dedicated to sourcing “ugly” or blemished watermelons to juice into a refreshing, cold-pressed beverage. We expect this zeal for reducing food waste to continue throughout 2016.
Parallel to the food waste reduction trend is the backlash against plastic packaging. While many brands use recyclable plastic to contain products—or in Method’s case, use plastic derived from ocean plastic—the next iteration for sustainable packaging is compostable. After consumers are finished with a product, they can throw the package into their home compost pile.
This initiative is largely driven by collaboration between conscious manufacturers—namely with the community organization OSC2, which aims to “secure a functional and sustainable option for our heat sealable/flexible overwrap and pouch applications.” 2016 will be the year of zero waste living.
Alter Eco Foods
No longer does “detox” mean disgusting. The newest crop of natural cleansing products are super tasty, and easier to prepare and consume. Read: Harsh cleanses, out; nourishing juices and teas, in.
Rather than high-fiber blends that aim to flush the colon, modern detox theory supports the use of bitter ingredients (dandelion root, milk thistle, broccoli, etc.) that stoke the body’s natural cleansing organ, the liver. When you eat well, detoxing can be daily—and gentler.
Brassica Tea with truebroc
Traditional Medicinals EveryDay Detox
The facts are clear: Consumers are developing more sophisticated palates. Whether this is due to the rise of foodie culture, growing interest in global cuisines or the availability of ingredients at groceries (recipe calls for fresh turmeric root or dragon fruit? Pick it up at your nearest natural store), shoppers’ expectations and standards for meals are elevating. But people are busier than ever.
In response to this need for faster, tastier meals, a slew of brands are delivering products that help crazed consumers achieve quick-cooking, healthy and delicious dishes, including mains and sides. Many products—which come in the form of simmer sauces, spice blends, par-cooked grains and more—require just an added can of tomatoes or beans, a diced onion, water and a quick simmer or zap in the microwave.
Brands doing it right:
Masala Mama Indian Summer Sauces & Spices
As the paleo diet gains traction with hardcore athletes, more consumers are adopting paleo values for improved health. Grains hurt your stomach? No problem. Manufacturers will continue to offer grain-free alternatives to staple natural products.
Wildway, for example, offers a nut-and-fruit granola so delicious consumers won’t miss the oats. Hate taking collagen supplements? Brands are making bone-based broths easier to drink by blending them with apple cider, ginger root and even fair trade coffee, as with new company Bru Broth, makers of ready-to-drink bone broth beverages.
Wildway Grain-Free Granola
The term “regenerative” rocketed to buzz-worthy status in 2015 as brands, natural industry thought leaders and farmers turned their focus to building soil health. Why the collective shift to the ground over the stuff that grows out of it? Climate change is a big reason. “Because reaching zero emissions is a fine, lofty goal, but it’s already too late for that alone to cool our warming world,” writes Steven Hoffman, managing director of Compass Natural. “The only way to do that now, according to experts in regenerative agriculture and research from the Rodale Institute and others, is to draw carbon out of the atmosphere and put it back where it belongs: in healthy organic soils.”
Myriad brands such as Natural Vitality, EPIC, Patagonia Provisions, Back To The Roots and more echo this sentiment by partnering with organizations that support responsible land management and sourcing practices, and remineralizing the soil.
Plus, we think more biodynamically grown foods, like Nello’s Biodynamic Marinara Sauce, will crop up on store shelves as consumers seek foods touted as “better than organic,” given that farmers regard their whole farm as one holistic ecosystem.
In 2015, we saw products ranging from baking mixes to hot teas that were infused with heat-resistant probiotic strands. It’s clear that shoppers are mindful of the burgeoning connection between gut health and overall wellness (which research suggests can impact immunity, focus and more).
We predict that a wide variety of probiotic strains will show up in easy-to-consume foods and beverages. For example, the new Obi Probiotic Soda employs 20 kefir cultures and the BC30 probiotic strain to infuse this low-cal, bubbly drink with good bugs.
Suja Pressed Probiotic Waters
Obi Probiotic Soda
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