After decades of staying on the cutting edge of food, I’ve learned that the world of nutrition moves fast. Now, I lead a team of nutrition and wellness professionals at Nestlé, helping to design new foods and beverages to give you the foods you love with the nutrition you crave.
Throughout the recent decades of our wellness-focused culture, we’ve seen fats, protein, and carbs all rise and fall in popularity. One thing that never changes? Flavor. Food has to taste good — if it doesn’t, we won’t eat it, no matter the potential health benefits. Every nutritionist knows this from day one, and luckily, the latest trends in functional food are packing more flavor than ever.
So, as we head into 2019, we took a look at how Americans all over the country are connecting with food trends (including a few surprising ones!), while our chefs and dietitians are working to bring the latest innovations to your kitchen. Here’s what to watch out for in the New Year.
Trend: Foods that inspire a good night’s sleep
We all know the importance of getting enough sleep, but we don’t always give this essential part of our daily routine the attention it deserves. 65% of adults list sleep as a contributor to next-day effectiveness, but only 10% of us will prioritize it over other aspects of our life — favoring instead work, hobbies, and socializing.
Melatonin, a hormone that influences sleep, is present in foods such as tart cherries, eggs, and fish. Your body produces melatonin naturally anyway, but these foods provide a complementary boost, and potentially a better night of shut-eye. And it turns out that many of us are seeing food as a potential solution. In surveying Americans, we found that women are more likely than men to have tried foods with melatonin or other sleep aids this year, and that 18–29 year olds are the most likely to try these foods, with 44% having tried them this year or planning to try them in 2019. In fact, watch for a new snack option from us around improved sleep this month!
Trend: The continued rise of cold-brew coffee
While we’re all looking for help sleeping better, we also have times we’re looking for a major energy boost. Of every trend we looked at, cold-brew was the most popular — we found that a full 40% of millennials have already tried cold-brew in 2018 and more than half of all adults plan to try it in the next year. For folks who are trying to drink coffee with less acid, cold brew typically has lower acid than regular brew with a smoother, less bitter taste appeal.
In fact, the high adoption of cold-brew is leading to growth in another popular trend, with on-the-go bottled coffee drinks catching on more than ever. 54% of Generation Z are already choosing bottled coffee in 2018, or planning to try next year.
In the past year, we’ve been lucky to get to go deep on consciously crafted cold-brew coffee with the addition of Chameleon Cold-Brew — an Austin, Texas original — to the Nestlé family. I’m proud to say we brought to life even more on-the-go options, like Natural Bliss Cold-Brew Coffee and the soon-to-launch Nescafé Cold Whipped Lattes and Coffee Protein Smoothie. For those who really want to up the ante on your morning jolt, our Nestlé Starbucks team has even launched ‘Starbucks Plus’ with twice the caffeine of their original K-cup coffee. Are coffee cocktails next? For now, less than 1 in 5 adults have tried them, but that’s not stopping us!
Trend: More plants, more ways
Plant-based diets aren’t about eating steamed vegetables all day long. Vegans, vegetarians, and flexitarians like me increasingly have access to tastier plant-based options thanks to innovations like our own Sweet Earth Food’s Veggie Lovers Pizza, which is high in fiber and contains 6 grams of protein.
More and more, we see a middle-ground between preparing a full from-scratch dinner and surrendering to take-out. The availability of more plant-based prepared food options can play a large role. About 60% of millennials cook combinations of both prepared and homemade dishes at least a few times a week (22% do it every day!) Why combine? 81% say it helps them try new or different flavors along with being “easier, faster, and budget-friendly”. After all, not all of us have the gumption to try making a carrot and chia seed crust!
Trend: The allergen-free movement will maintain momentum
Allergy-safe options are on the rise, serving the needs of 15 million Americans facing food allergies or food intolerance. Rest assured “free from” certain ingredients does not mean “free from taste” or “free from fun.” Bakers and chefs are improving their ability to deliver tastier options and old favorites to people with food-sensitivities — because all food should be good food.
Our team has made huge strides offering more options for people with allergies or sensitivities, like non-dairy Häagen-Dazs and Simply Delicious Toll House chocolate chips, which is free from the top eight allergens. In non-dairy Haagen-Dazs, rather than substituting a dairy alternative for milk, the brand takes a unique approach by highlighting star ingredients (like cocoa butter, coconut cream or peanut butter), which creates a creamier texture and a truer taste. (Almost 90% of women say texture is important to them in choosing snacks!)
Cold-brew to cauliflower pizza crust: no single trend gives us everything we want and need. More than 80% of us want to eat foods that make us feel healthy, but still 65% see food as a way to indulge. Almost 80% like to try new recipes, but almost half see cooking as a chore. The role that different foods play for us doesn’t just vary person-to-person, it also evolves by the minute. The good news is, as we bring together Nestlé dietitians, chefs, and recipe developers, we’re committed to making sure taste and well-being are not mutually exclusive. So trend on, fellow food lovers. We’ve got you covered.