Each year, one of my favorite trade expos to attend is Expo West because it is where most of the newest items from major brands are unveiled. I've witnessed the trends shift from gourmet and flavored nut butters, to granola bars, protein based gluten-free foods, and more. Moving forward, though, I am super excited because the allergen free world is moving forward with these trends.
I've started to see products that replicate comfort food and not just necessary foods. This is great for a few reasons. For many people with food allergies, food often becomes such a hassle that they tend to see it only for nutritional purposes. But as we start to see the shift from food to survived for fun, people with food allergies can start to enjoy food again. Along with this, the food has started to actually taste good. We can all admit that many historic allergen friendly foods tasted terrible-lending to the mentality that food is for survival. Part of why companies can start moving towards fun food is because they have a greater understanding of making the necessary food taste great. There's no point in selling the fun food if it doesn't taste great, right?
Another trend that will continue to have large effects in 2020 is the increase in veganism nationwide. While people on a special diet due to food allergies are not necessarily vegan themselves, they often benefit from the products produced for the vegan community. With the community growing, companies are being forced to innovate quickly to capitalize on the trend. This has lent itself to companies like Beyond Meat, Impossible Meat, Daiya, and others to continuously improve the taste of their products and lower costs to stay competitive.
In addition to the increase in products available for purchase at the grocery store, there has been an explosion of vegan products available when eating out. Companies that you would never think of traditionally accommodating vegans have introduced a wide variety of products to draw in new audiences. There was a similar trend after the gluten-free fad spread, and as different alternative diets become popular (Keto, Paleo, Whole 30, etc.), restaurants will need to continue to adapt to keep customers happy.
Finally, you will start to see clearly labeling of GMO ingredients on packaging with the implementation of President Obama era labeling laws. While the laws do not fully go into effect until 2022, they will begin being implemented in 2020. Companies may start to transition their products to support the new laws early.
Every year, the allergen community moves forward in the food quality and quantity provided. Consumers have driven the need for innovation that will continue both in the supermarket and at restaurants. What food trends do you think will dominate 2020?