Industry Trends Identified by Retail Dietitians

Industry Trends Identified by Retail Dietitians

January 4, 2017
Annette Maggi

By RDBA Executive Director Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

As we kick off the new year, we checked in with some retail dietitians and RDBA members to determine what they see as key trends in 2017. Here’s what they identified as key trends in the new year:

The Ugly Fruit & Veg Movement
People are heading about how much food is wasted. Ugly fruit programs, like Misfits, allow shoppers to take an active stance on this issue. Customers often have knowledge on a topic, but don’t have tools to take action.  Ugly fruit programs are an actionable way consumers can help.” 
- April Graff, MS, RD, LD, Mankato Hy-Vee

Fermented Foods, Probiotics, Gut Health.
There is so much science being linked to the microbiome. The linkages between fermented foods, probiotics, gut health, and other health conditions is just starting, so this area will continue to grow over the next several years, and along with it, interest in food products that promote gut health.” 
- Shari Steinbach, MS, RD, Health & Wellness Nutrition Manager, Meijer

Convenience Foods.
Younger generations just don’t cook. Because of this, we will continue to see interest in healthier convenience items, meal kits, and meal solutions in smaller package sizes.”
- Amy Peick, RD, LD, Coborn’s

One of the biggest trends we are anticipating is the next level of convenience, along with the personalization of food. There is increased demand for cooking short cuts, less routine shopping and cooking habits, but also a greater need for slow down moments. Simplicity will continue to be key – recipes with 4 steps or less, 8 ingredients or less, and 30 minutes or less.  Even the number of pots and pans required is important: cleaning after cooking deters from making healthier meals from scratch. However, consumers demand recipes and ideas that are specifically suitable for them and their unique situation. This could include an allergy, intolerance, or preference, or something particularly suited for their goals.”
- Melanie Byland, Director of Wellness, RD, MPH, Loblaw Companies Limited  

Nutritional Yeast.
Although nutritional yeast has been around for a little while now, the continuing rise in dairy-free and vegan options makes this ingredient likely to become a new superfood in 2017. Nutritional yeast is deactivated yeast that adds a creamy, nutty and cheese-like flavor when sprinkled onto salads, popcorn or baked dishes  - and it is already being used in restaurants as vegan Parmesan cheese. Unlike many other dairy alternatives, nutritional yeast is naturally high in protein and an excellent source of zinc, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and vitamins B6. It is also considered less processed, making it a desirable option for many consumers.”
- Emmie Satrazemis, RD, CSSD, Wellness Evangelist, Raley’s Family of Fine Stores

Foods with benefits.  
There’s a keen interest in learning more about what is inherently “good” or beneficial about foods.  It’s not only answering the “what” questions (ex: What are good snacking choice for me? Walnuts.) but the “why” questions too (Why are walnuts a smart snacking option? Sources of ALA, provides mono and poly fats, protein, fiber, etc).  We’re helping our customers answer those questions both with our HealthyBites program in general, but also directly with our in-store RDs and our shelf-tag program.”
- Lindsey DeCaro, RDN, LDN, Retail Healthy Living Coordinator, Weis Markets  

Out of the Box Fruits and Veggies.
One trend I see that is popular across the board is preparing "out of the box" fruits and veggies. Most people, even kids, know that they should be eating more fruits and vegetables, but making them appealing and more interesting is one of the challenges to getting people to actually eat them.  In my stores the trends of zucchini noodles, cauliflower rice (and pizza crust), broccoli tots, and banana ice cream have been helping people of all ages increase their produce intake and have fun with flavor!” 
- Jennifer Klein, MS, RD, ShopRite of Manchester

Food Waste Prevention.
One of the most influential trends I foresee in 2017 is an ever-growing sustainability awareness giving rise to food waste prevention. We’ll see more restaurants cooking with the entire plant; stem to root such as using beet greens and carrot tops, recycling the pulp created from juicing into soups and baked goods, and pickling everything from watermelon rinds to green strawberries. We’ll also see more encouragement to purchase, “ugly produce” that would typically get thrown out. Many major retailers such as Kroger and Wegmans have joined the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, so perhaps we’ll see more major retailers getting on board with similar initiatives. Food companies are also beginning to get behind food waste reduction, from using aquafaba (the water leftover from cooking chickpeas) as an egg substitute, to using leftover whey from yogurt production in fermented beverages. I anticipate entrepreneurs establishing food companies centered on using food products that are typically discarded.”
- Hayden James, MA, RD/LD, Reasor’s