It’s the end of the year, which means all the trend spotters and analysts are releasing their lists for the top trends to watch in 2018. I’m an account manager focused on the Food & Beverage practice for our consumer team, so naturally I keep an eye out for these reports every November to December.

This year, I’m gathering all the top food & beverage trends from Mintel, Whole Foods and Supermarket News to put together my own predictions for what I think will be the five most popular trends, and to spotlight a product I’m reading about a lot that hasn’t been on any list yet!

  1. Super Powders. You won’t scroll long on Instagram before you find a blogger or influencer using Vital Proteins (a collagen peptides supplement in a smoothie), whisking together a matcha or golden milk latte, or blending cacao powder/nibs into energy bars or balls. Nutritionists and healthy living influencers like Lee from America, Shut The Kale Up and more use super powders like these because they’re easy to incorporate, provide a number of benefits (skin- and hair-enhancing collagen) and, for some, are a necessary swap for their body’s digestive system. (Can’t handle the acidity of coffee? Try a matcha latte instead! You still get the caffeine you need without the acid reflux.)
  2. Functional Mushrooms. I’d have to credit this one again to Instagram influencers (e.g., Alison Wu and The Balanced Blonde). It seems everyone is boasting about those gold-label jars from Sun Potion containing ingredients you need a YouTube pronunciation video for (FYI – ashwagandha is ASH-WA-GAHN-DUH). Mushrooms varieties like chaga, cordyceps and lion’s mane are traditionally used to support wellness, and the rich earthy flavors pair well with cocoa, chocolate or coffee (if you’re inspired to make your own drink!). Not ready to throw down $40 on a jar of fungi? Ease your way into it and try one of Rebbl’s coconut-milk elixirs with either maca, reishi or ashwagandha.
  3. High-Tech Goes Plant-Forward. Earlier this fall, multiple outlets raved about the Beyond Meat “bleeding” vegan burger, and as a Texan, even I was intrigued. Technology has always had a hand in food production, but now companies are using science to advance recipes and manipulate ingredients (e.g., sushi-grade “not-tuna” made from tomatoes). Expect to see these same techniques bring new nut milks and yogurts made from pili nuts, peas, bananas, macadamia nuts and pecans to market.
  4. Root-to-Stem. Reducing food waste was a big topic in 2017, and chefs like Gabrielle Hamilton and Dan Barber have been leading the charge for quite a while (watch Season four of Mind of a Chef to see Gabrielle in action—it’s incredible). Between root-to-stem cooking (which means making use of the entire fruit or vegetable) and nose-to-tail butchery, chefs, restaurants and even ice cream shops like Portland’s Salt & Straw are introducing consumers to new flavors while helping to eliminate food waste.
  5. Transparency 2.0. Parents and millennials are increasingly interested in what’s in their food and how it came from the farm to the store (I can attest … I now spring a few more dollars for the organic, free-range eggs because, well: 1) hormones; and 2) you can seriously taste the difference). GMO transparency is certainly top-of-mind, but shoppers also want to know if their products have Fair Trade certification, and if companies operate responsible production facilities and adhere to animal welfare standards. Children are even being taught how to read nutritional labels at school, so only expect this trend to grow (and likely result in multiple regulatory steps) over the coming decades.

Last but not least … while it’s not technically a “food” or “beverage,” I expect to see CBD oil a lot more over the next year. CBD oil is cannabidiol, an active component of cannabis, but it is not the psychoactive element that gets you high—that’s THC. CBD oil is natural, legal and could mitigate the effects of anxiety and help reduce inflammation as it relaxes muscles. A favorite comedian of mine (Pete Holmes) has been promoting Charlotte’s Web Hemp Oil for years, and now I’m seeing Cap Beauty’s The Daily Hit all over Instagram, so it’s only a matter of time before more people are making this CBD-infused lavender hot chocolate (floral flavors like lavender, elderflower, rose and hibiscus are also big trends for 2018—so go on with your trendy self!).

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