A health food renaissance is upon us, as the notion of “healthful” is being redefined nationwide, according to the recently released “The New Healthful: Culinary Trend Mapping Report” from Packaged Facts and San Francisco-based strategic food and beverage agency CCD Innovation.
The U.S.’s renewed emphasis on promoting good health has given rise to the focus on the presence of beneficial nutrients and the use of inherently nutritious foods, as opposed to simply just eliminating or avoiding certain ingredients that may negatively affect health when over-consumed. The New Healthful is also about growth of new distribution outlets, new places where healthful foods can be found. As these increase, the existence of healthful food and beverage options alongside more indulgent ones will become an everyday occurrence.
“‘Healthful’ doesn’t mean bland anymore, nor is it segregated to a separate supermarket aisle or area on a menu,” said Kimberly Egan, CEO of CCD Innovation. “Healthful foods and beverages are more integrated into our foodscape just as producers, manufacturers and retailers are integrating their efforts around a common goal of good-tasting, good-for-us food and drink.”
What makes the New Healthful movement truly special is the energizing spirit of cooperation that punctuates the initiative. Instead of healthful innovation being imposed by distant force fields—which government-promoted charts or fad diets can often feel like—students, parents, farmers, chefs, food businesses, and technology innovators, as well as both local and global entrepreneurs, are mingling as agents of change to create new and better food choices for all.
Harnessing CCD Innovation’s proprietary five-stage Trend Mapping technique, The New Healthful: Culinary Trend Mapping Report examines foods that take the “healthful” label to new levels, foods made with purer, wholesome raw ingredients as well as those sourced from plants; foods that are lighter on the earth and created with sustainability in mind. The result is seven trends situated across the spectrum of the five Trend Mapping stages. Stage 1 signifies that a trend is just gaining traction among creative chefs and adventurous diners, while Stage 5 indicates complete absorption into the mainstream and presence on quick service menus and grocery store shelves.
- Stage 1: Extraordinary Tap Water – We are entering a new era of customized and personalized, healthful beverages created with superior tap water. This trend is fueled by the decline in calorific carbonated soft drink consumption on the one hand, and on the other growing interest in local, artisan crafted beverages, the desire to experience new flavors, and the avoidance of empty calories from added sweeteners.
- Stage 1: Heirloom Whole-Grain Bread – A growing number of independent bakers are interested in promoting locally sourced, heirloom grains and are creating recipes to showcase these grains’ distinctive flavors and textures, all while providing the highly prized health benefits of whole grains.
- Stage 2: Beans & Greens for Breakfast – We are seeing a new, keen interest in breakfasts enriched with vegetables and legumes on morning menus from vegetarian and health-focused restaurants, as well as in recipes and photos from bloggers and Pinterest users. This goes beyond the token spinach leaf or two in a mainstream breakfast wrap to copious amounts of roasted vegetables, beans and quinoa adding protein, and a new twist on a healthful breakfast, the breakfast salad.
- Stage 2: Healthful Vending – Companies geared to providing healthful food alternatives via vending machines are finding plenty of outlets to access hungry people with replenishing food–school, work, gyms, sports arenas, airports, and hotels. And there is growth in the development of more nutritious products created specifically for vending use. Oatmeal kits, grab-and-go tuna, fresh-cut fruit and vegetables with dips, and organic bowl salads are just the beginning of what could be a significant new market for development.
- Stage 3: Vegan on the Menu – As new vegans join the longer-term faithful, the demand for more vegan choices on menus gets louder. And not just in specialty cafés with a focus on healthful fare, but in mainstream chains across America. Many vegan menu options currently exist on chain menus; however, there is plenty of room for more vegan-centric choices in both foodservice and retail.
- Stage 4: Chef-Inspired Healthful Kid Fare – Lucky for kids and parents, the latest approaches for tackling America’s childhood obesity epidemic revolve around chef-prepared and culinary-inspired meals that taste great and get kids truly engaged in eating more healthful foods. The efforts of a growing number of chefs are illuminating strategies that are beginning to make real, positive changes in how our kids eat.
- Stage 5: Veggie Burger Renaissance – The “better burger” trend of the last several years has extended to reach those consumers who are dining meatless and eschewing animal products. There has been a renaissance of the veggie burger, giving every audience an opportunity to enjoy a good tasting, plant-based meal in that familiar and beloved burger form.
For more information on The New Healthful: Culinary Trend Mapping Report, please click this link.