Global web analytics company Quantzig has witnessed a shift in consumer understanding of how food consumption affects the environment and communities. This has been driven by the blurring of physical and digital boundaries. Recent web analytics conducted by the group, which has offices in Europe, North America and Asia, has highlighted the opportunity to develop digital communities around brands via digital engagement.
However, according to researchers at the data firm, an overarching desire for healthy eating has driven food sector innovation this year. “Healthy food trends are now gaining popularity and the menu cards of many restaurants and food courts have healthy food options,” researchers said.
Here are Quantzig’s “hands down the best” top five trend picks feeding into rising interest in healthy eating.
‘Happy gut food’
Rising awareness of the importance that ‘good bacteria’ in the gut have for health has resulted in a jump in innovation in this space, Quantzig noted.
Consumers are developing an understanding that the microbiota – the huge array of micro-organisms hosted by our bodies – play key roles in the functioning of our immune systems and provide nutrients for our cells. Recent years have seen the gut microbiome in particular linked to a plethora of diseases and conditions, from diabetes to autism, depression and obesity.
“Our diet influences the microbes present in our body. It is so true that we really are what we eat. To keep the gut bugs healthy, healthy food trends are going to be the rage this year.
“Gut-friendly food like miso, kimchi, and kefir are quite popular and are going to see more innovations,” the analytics group predicted.
Widespread recognition that seafood consumption carries health benefits is resulting in an up-tick in innovation. In particular, Quantzig noted, we could see seafood NPD make a push outside dinnertime.
“Seafood is going to be a popular choice for many in breakfast and brunch dishes. Since it’s going to be one of the healthy food trends in 2018, many restaurants have started introducing new varieties of fish and shellfish to provide the variety that consumers may not be as acquainted with in dishes like fish tacos and ceviche,” the researchers noted.
Greens taking centre plate
A growing uptake of so-called ‘flexitarian’, vegetarian and vegan diets means vegetables are coming to be thought of as more than side dishes.
Food innovators are increasingly developing centre-plate vegetable-based products and this trend continues to gain traction in 2018, Quantzig suggested.
Pointing to the massive popularity of products like risotto bowls in the restaurant sector, Quantzig suggested: “It is one of the new food trends that is going to become even more popular in the days to come.”
Sweets from Asia
Growing concern over sugar consumption in western markets could see a growing uptake of desserts that originate from Asia, Quantzig suggested.
This is because, according to the firm, many Asian desserts rely less heavily on sugar for sweetness, instead using natural sweeteners like honey.
“That is the reason why Asian-inspired sweets are becoming popular. Fried banana wontons sprinkled and drizzled with local farm honey is one such popular dish from Thailand to enter the dessert list.”
Finally, Quantzig suggested that exotic botanical tea varieties are also on the up-and-up.
“Tea with a difference is one of the new food trends in 2018 that is going to create more buzz for tea lovers.”
In particular, the group identified teas originating from the Indian subcontinent – such as masala or turmeric – as variants cosumers in Europe or the US are experimenting with.