The food industry has changed a great deal in the last few years—there’s been a growing interest in greener options and a larger focus on clean protein, including plant-derived options. Moving into 2020, it will be exciting to see which trends continue to gain momentum, dictating what shows up in grocery stores and restaurants across the country.
While it is impossible to predict exactly what will happen moving forward into the next year, industry experts have made a number of predictions about the major trends of 2020, including the following:
1. Alternative flours
The popularity of gluten-free and low-carbohydrate diets has opened up a new market of flours made of nontraditional ingredients. In the years leading up to 2020, options like almond and coconut flours have become increasingly mainstream, showing up on the shelves of big-chain grocery stores. However, these options only scratch the surface when it comes to alternative flour.
Moving forward, food scientists will explore new fruits and vegetables for making flours—interestingly, one of the newest examples is banana flour. Consumers may also start seeing packaged tortilla chips, doughnuts, and crackers made from alternative flours.
2. Meat-plant blends
Many consumers who are looking to consume less meat but still enjoy the flavor are seeking out plant-based proteins. While these have long been popular among vegetarians and vegans, omnivores are beginning to take notice due to plant-based meat products like the Impossible Burger and the Beyond Burger becoming so ubiquitously available.
In 2016, the James Beard Foundation launched the Blended Burger Project, which encourages replacing 25 percent of classic burger meat with mushrooms or vegetables. Already, some products selling these blends have hit grocery stores, and their skyrocketing popularity may make them more prominent on restaurant menus.
3. Sophisticated kids’ menus
Millennial parents are instilling different food-related values in their children than previous generations. In many ways, parents are creating little foodies.
The demand for more sophisticated kids’ foods has led to both restaurants and food brands changing the way they think about kids’ options. Lately, dishes like salmon fish sticks and alternative-flour pastas have caught the attention of both children and parents—while also providing better nutrition than many of the children’s menu items that have been popular in the past.
4. West African food
Foods from many different cultures have become popular over the years, and it seems that 2020 may be West Africa’s time to shine.
A region made up of 16 nations, West Africa is home to outstanding flavors and food, including ancient grains such as teff, millet, and fonio. Plus, some superfoods like moringa and tamarind are very popular in West African cuisine—expect to see more of these ingredients starring in restaurant dishes in the coming year.
5. Brussels sprouts
Each new year seems to highlight a specific healthy vegetable. Not long ago, kale was featured on almost every menu at restaurants across the nation. Industry experts think that the next big vegetable could be brussels sprouts, which have been slowly gaining popularity over the past few years.
Part of the renewed interest in this vegetable is recent research showing that it is just as rich in nutrients as kale. Plus, the vegetable is incredibly versatile and can be prepared in many different ways, which helps keep it exciting to eat. Consumers may soon see many more brussels sprouts dishes on menus, not to mention in products at grocery stores.
6. Healthy butters
A number of different brands have begun experimenting with healthier versions of butter using various nuts and seeds. Some of the newest products to hit the market include watermelon seed, macadamia, and chickpea butters. Not only are these spreads vegan, but they add a lot of flavor.
Plus, these products cut down on the use of palm oil, which is a source of many environmental concerns. Palm oil harvesting is a major cause of deforestation and has threatened the existence of many animal species, including Sumatran tigers and Bornean elephants.
7. Complex sugars
Scientists have long known the dangers of consuming too many simple sugars—it can lead to obesity, diabetes, and other health issues. To make foods healthier, many companies are focusing on new sources of complex sugars, such as syrups made from starch or fruit sources.
While syrups from monk fruit, coconut, sorghum dates, sweet potato, and pomegranate are gaining in popularity on store shelves, in the coming months, expect to see them pop up in restaurant desserts, not to mention glazes and marinades.