The editors at Food Technology magazine, which is published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), announced their food trend predictions for 2017. Here’s what they’re forecasting for next year.
Personalized Smart Bars: As Google develops needle-free blood-drawing technologies, we will have real time access to our micronutrient levels on smart phones and watches. These smart technologies will analyze our micronutrient needs each day and communicate them to novel home processing devices. These devices will then custom process smart bars containing personalized micronutrient levels in order to meet our daily needs. — Tara McHugh, Contributing Editor, Processing
Intentional Snacking: Snacks will continue to evolve into more snacking with a purpose. Consumers want more from their snacks than just satisfying a craving. This will open the door to increased use of nonconventional snack ingredients like sprouted grains, ancient grains like sorghum and teff, and alternative flours like pulse-based flours. Also, look for an increased interest in microalgae ingredients as they are an example of a whole ingredient that is both sustainable and a healthy source of beneficial fatty acids and protein. — Linda Milo Ohr, Contributing Editor, Nutraceuticals
Food Waste in the Spotlight: Food waste will come front and center for companies’ sustainability efforts. In 2017, consumers will begin to move past the stigma surrounding imperfect produce and companies, especially startups, will debut creative efforts to make use of ingredients that would have otherwise gone to waste. In addition, 15 food companies have publicly committed to reducing their food waste by 50% by the year 2030. Companies will realize that not only does reducing food waste benefit the environment, but it can help the bottom line. Analysis by ReFED (Rethink Food Waste Through Economics and Data) estimated that businesses stand to generate $1.9 billion of profit each year by adopting strategies like food waste tracking and analytics to measure and prevent food waste, right-sizing portions, and improving inventory and cold chain management. — Kelly Hensel, Senior Digital Editor
Fast Forward, Fresh!: Better alignment with today’s food lifestyles—single-serve/on-the-go packaging, fresh snacks, health claims on fresh products, precooked/heat-and-eat meats and gourmet ingredients—will drive explosive incremental growth in the fresh food marketplace. — A. Elizabeth Sloan, Contributing Editor, Consumer Trends
Convenience Becomes Personal: Convenience has long been a crucial consumer consideration, but in 2017 this will play out with even more meal kits and delivery services designed to target consumers’ individual tastes, diets and even microbiome. — Melanie Zanoza Bartelme, Associate Editor
A Sweeter Balance: Expect to see continued interest from both consumers and food manufacturers in the amount of sugar used in formulations as scientists study the potential links between sugar intake and obesity and other diseases. Something else that is fueling this interest is the updated Nutrition Facts label, which will go into effect July 2018 and require food manufacturers to declare the gram amount of “added sugars” in a serving of a product and list it below “total sugars” on the label. — Karen Nachay, Senior Associate Editor
Plant Popularity: The demand for plant-based foods will continue to grow as more consumers try plant-based dietary patterns (vegetarian, vegan, etc.) and seek out foods that are minimally processed. — Toni Tarver, Senior Writer/Editor
It’s All About Me!: When it comes to matters of health and nutrition, today’s consumers can be know-it-alls, trusting in their own judgment about what’s best for themselves and their families. As individualized nutrition moves further into the mainstream watch for consumers to feel ever more comfortable with making their own dietary decisions and less interested in the recommendations of government and public health authorities. — Mary Ellen Kuhn, Executive Editor
Even Safer Food: Food companies in the United States and abroad will increase their efforts to comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act regulations, leading to improved safety of foods. Universities, analytical laboratories, and suppliers will continue to develop new and improved methods of analysis and instruments, as well as specific applications, particularly with respect to food safety; nanotechnology will feature in many of these developments. – Neil H. Mermelstein, Editor Emeritus
Food Taxes: Mo’ Money for Local Governments: If the recent November elections in the United States are any indication, “junk” foods like sugary beverages may become a bigger target for local governments to raise revenue through special taxes. Voters recently passed laws that raise the price of sugar-sweetened drinks by 1 or 2 cents per ounce. While the proponents claim that these taxes are designed to reduce consumption and improve public health, many folks suspect that the real aim is to raise revenue to pay for government programs or to fill a budget gap. Foods and beverages are an easy target for local taxing bodies, and the recent sugary drink tax victories will likely embolden other municipalities to move to enact similar taxes on soft drinks, sweetened teas, sports drinks, and energy drinks. But don’t expect them to stop there. With red meat linked to cardiovascular disease and cancer and contributing to greenhouse gases and climate change, it’s probably only a matter of time before some well-meaning local legislator proposes a special tax on beef. — Bob Swientek, Editor-in-Chief
Founded in 1939, the Institute of Food Technologists is committed to advancing the science of food. Our non-profit scientific society—more than 17,000 members from more than 90 countries—brings together food scientists, technologists and related professionals from academia, government and industry. For more information, please visit ift.org.