Consumer behavior has shifted to a focus on which healthy foods to eat. Now more than ever, consumers are more concerned about where their food comes from, how it was sourced, and what is in it. All these concerns form the bedrock of a new mantra: disease prevention through diet.
As a result, there are burgeoning categories of healthy foods to eat that are influencing consumer eating choices. It is critical for all businesses along the food supply chain to become aware of these health trends to better serve customers and create new avenues for growth. Businesses that can capitalize on these categories can separate themselves from the competition.
- Plant-based foods provide benefits such as lower cancer risk and improvements in cardiac health
- The total vegan market is expected to double over the next five years
- Seaweed is gaining in popularity as a “superfood”
- As a result of the pandemic, consumers have purchased more foods that boost overall immunity
1. Plant-Based Foods
When discussing healthy foods to eat, we would be remiss not to mention plant-based products. The plant-based meat market is set to swell to a staggering 13 billion by 2026, growing at an annual 18.9% CAGR. That is just the meat substitutes, not to mention all other food categories that plant-based products have infiltrated including milks, eggs, and cheeses.
Shifting attitudes towards environmental awareness, ethical reasoning, social media influence, and overall health are all factors that contribute to the surge. These factors are also the reason the total vegan market is projected to double over the next half-decade. Plant-based alternatives are sustainable options linked to improvements in heart health and lower cancer risk.
2. Healthy Foods to Eat for the Gut
Prebiotic and probiotic foods are among the healthy options that consumers are turning to for improved gut health. Compounded with consumer desire for organic, local, and non-GMO foods, the health trend of taking prebiotic and probiotic foods has spiked in popularity. Because more customers now demand to know what ingredients are in their food, probiotic and prebiotic labels may prove as a strong marketing tool for grocers, food retailers, and restaurants. These types of foods include:
- Dandelion greens
- Burdock root
- Konjac root
3. Seaweed as a Superfood
When it comes to eating healthy foods, seaweed is gaining in popularity as a “superfood.” Seaweed is packed with the nutrients associated with positive health benefits, drawing consumers to it for this reason. Consumers are purchasing the eco-friendly plant in a variety of forms. The seaweed snack market is projected to swell to nearly 3 billion by 2027.
4. Immune Boosters
As immune health remains a top concern in 2022, consumers are searching for healthy foods to eat that are rich in vitamin C, vitamin D, adaptogens, and zinc. Food retailers may want to consider increasing the quantities of foods rich in those nutrients as consumers look to add them to their grocery shopping lists. These foods include:
- Berries (fresh, dried, or frozen)
- Spices (cinnamon, ginger, turmeric)
- Citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, grapefruits, lemons)
- Cruciferous vegetables (arugula, Brussel sprouts, watercress, bok choy)
5. Collagen Supplements
Historically, collagen has been more associated with beauty than diet until recently. However, collagen as a supplement powder for oral intake provides many health and wellness benefits for consumers. Collagen powder boasts a bevy of benefits for consumers including wrinkle reduction, improvements in skin health, and joint inflammation relief. As a result, supplement sales of collagen powder are growing rapidly in one of the globe’s most competitive industries.
Adaptogens, active ingredients found in mushrooms, herbs, and other plants, are responsible for providing health advantages that can boost the body’s response to fatigue, stress, and anxiety. Now, they can be found in numerous food products and beverages, including sparkling water and coffee. Additionally, consumers may be drawn to them for their therapeutic properties. Some examples of adaptogens include:
- Holy Basil
- Licorice Root
7. UV-Treated Mushrooms
Beyond their potential as a meat replacer, mushrooms have attracted consumers because they are rich in vitamin D. Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that supports glucose metabolism, bone health, muscle health, and immune function. Some mushroom suppliers have begun to expose their mushrooms to UV light before packaging, which amplifies their vitamin D content. There are not many plant-based foods inherently high in vitamin D, so mushrooms have proven as a two-for-one option for health-conscious consumers.
8. Superfood Lattes
Superfood lattes are drinks that combine milk with nutritious powders made from vegetables, herbs, spices, and roots. These powders contain minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants that are proven to boost health and energy levels. These lattes can be served cold or hot and offer consumers healthier options over coffee and espresso. There is a large range of superfoods used in these lattes including:
Learn More About Influential Healthy Food Trends
It can be difficult for food retailers to keep up with shifting trends and what consumers consider healthy foods to eat. By networking with other food professionals, retailers can inject themselves into conversations about these topics and better prepare for the demands of the market. Attend SIAL America to meet with some of the industry leaders in the food supply industry to stay proactive and ahead of healthy food trends.
Sign up to get SIAL America 2023 registration email updates.