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Top 10 Key Trends in Food 2020

2019-12-20 Lin Zhang

Tag: beverage 2020 Food trend


The new year is approaching. Do you want to know what are the most important shifts in food and beverage market? What are the 10 key food trends for 2020?

A US based Whole Foods showed its predictions for the top 10 key food trends to come in 2020. They are:

1     Regenerative Organic Agriculture

Regenerative organic agriculture refers to working with nature to utilize photosynthesis and healthy soil microbiology to draw down greenhouse gases and increase carbon capture to create long-lasting environmental benefits. (1-2)

Traditional agriculture is one of the leading causes of soil erosion. According to the European Commission’s World Atlas of Desertification, more than 75% of the earth’s ice-free land is degraded. (3) In the United States, agricultural soils have lost as much as 60% of their original organic carbon content over the past century. (4)

As stated by one of the pioneers in organic agriculture, Rodale Institute, based in PA, US, regenerative agriculture practices could store carbon on farms growing other crops, and if it happened across the industry, some experts predict that the impact could be substantial and improving soil health, which can yield significant benefits for life on earth, facilitating ecosystem biodiversity, ample food production, effective water filtration and storage, and carbon sequestration. They believe Healthy Soil=Healthy Food=Healthy People.

Agricultural technological advancements throughout the past century have allowed farmers to feed a population that has grown from less than 2 billion people to more than 7 billion today. With regenerative organic agriculture “feeding a world population of 10 billion is possible, but only if we change the way we eat and the way we produce food,” as per a German scientist Prof Johan Rockström. Therefor, new business models will be necessary to align the economic interests of farmers, landowners and agricultural retailers on soil health benefits.

2     New Substitute Flours

New substitute flours have become more mainstream as more people try trendy diets due to an unexpected shortage or for health reasons such as an allergy to gluten or wheat.

There are a variety of pre-mixed products and some new substitute flours to mix, match and try to create a more flour-like consistency and add binding gums or gelatin. Like gluten-free baking mixes, most popular substitute flours such as fruit flours, vegetable flours, seed flours, banana flour, rice flour, buckwheat flour, tapioca flour, corn flour, teff flour, arrowroot, cauliflower flour, chickpea flour, almond flour, potato flour, tigernut flour and soy flour that can be a great option for adding nutrients to many recipes instead of wheat flour as people look for ways to up nutrition, protein, fiber, and healthy benefits. As a result, a mix of new substitute flours will hit the market in 2020.

3     West Africa Foods 

An appreciation for West African food is spreading all over the world in food and beverage. There are 16 nations within West Africa, each with its own unique culinary traditions, heritage, and specialties. (5)

West African diets are rich in nutrients, heavy on starch, light on meat, generous with fat and commonly cooked together in one pot. The main ingredients used in West African foods include tomatoes, onions and chili peppers, form the baseline for the regions cooking. Starchy vegetables like pumpkins, sweet potatoes and squash are also typical components of a West African foods.

Other common ingredients are  sorghum, millet, plantains, cereal grains, fonio, cola nuts, peanuts, egusi seeds, melegueta pepper, palm oil and rice. These foods may boost your health and longevity and will be used more and popular in 2020.

Top 10 Key Trends in Food 2020

4     Single-serve Packaged Snacks

Today, snacking is on the rise. Single-serve and miniaturized packaging is hot and getting hotter for food and beverage as well as beauty products. Consumer lifestyles like convenience, dietary awareness, freshness and reducing waste are driving the trend toward single-serve and smaller packs.

Single-serve and small packages deliver big value for food, beverage, and personal-care products. These products may range from food, beverage, dietary supplements to pharmaceuticals including hard-boiled eggs with savory toppings, drinkable soups, pickled vegetables, and nutrition bars with fresh fruits and vegetables, they are not only simply fresh, but branded refrigerated meals and meats. Single-serve packaging can help boost sales and offer convenience as well.

5     Plant-based Foods

Plant-based eating has become so mainstream and consumers are more conscious about their daily diet. New data from the Plant based Foods Association and The Good Food Institute shows U.S. retail sales of total plant-based foods have increased 31% since April 2017. Globally, the dairy alternatives market is predicted to be worth $19.5 billion by 2020, as per Markets and Markets. (6)

According to Nutrition Business Journal, 36% of consumers prefer plant-based milks. Emerging plant-based dairy categories are growing faster as more households are introduced to other plant-based dairy items, for example, plant-based yogurt has grown 39%, while conventional yogurt declined 3%; plant-based cheese has grown 19%, while conventional cheese is flat; and plant-based ice cream and frozen novelty has grown 27%, while conventional ice cream and frozen novelty has grown just 1%. Some manufacturers are also focusing on developing beverages made from plant-based protein such as grain, soy, almond to cater demanding customers.

In the nutraceutical supplement space, which is swapping soy for mung bean, hemp seed, pumpkin, avocado, watermelon seed, and golden chlorella, bringing plant-based amino acids to protein powders without sacrificing texture.        

There has been a growing focus not only on the health benefits of eating a plant-based diet, but also the environmental concerns of diet for people to eat plant-based. The plant-based movement will continue to boom in 2020.

6     Substitutes For Butter As A Spread

Butter is a popular spread and baking ingredient. In the world of butters, wher there seems to be a new product on the market from time to time.

Butter substitute and spreads like watermelon seed, chickpea, tahini, cashew, almond, pumpkin, and peanut butters, and a variety of other vegan, keto-friendly butters will increase in popularity and availability in 2020 for its nutritional value and health benefits.

These butter substitutes not only to avoid butter due to milk allergies or lactose intolerance for various health reasons but also taste better than the real thing with less likelihood for environmental impact. Moreover, butter substitute let you cut saturated fat but not flavor. However, the transparency in labels and products is a key player in this trend.

7     Organic Foods For Kids

Organic products are available in nearly 20,000 natural food stores and nearly three out of four conventional grocery stores, according to 2019 data from the USDA. (7)

Consumers prefer organically produced food because of their concerns regarding health, the environment, and animal welfare. Generally, parents have recognized the benefits of organic food especially for their kids, they are willing to pay a little more to give their kids the highest-quality and most healthy products being offered in their local food store. Furthermore, parents understand that children fed an organic diet have much lower levels of metabolites of high-risk insecticides in their bodies. They also know that choosing organic food reduces the risk of exposure to toxic pesticides in their diet.

On the other hand, children are particularly vulnerable to agricultural chemicals, in part because their immune systems are still developing, they are exposed to more chemical residues than adults.

Whole Foods predicts that food brands will expand their offerings from old-school basic kids’ menus to supply healthier, organic versions of nostalgic foods such as organic chicken nuggets, non-breaded salmon fish sticks, fermented foods, and colorful pastas made from alternative flours for children.

8     Sugar And Syrup Substitutes

Fear of the sugar has now become mainstream. A massive 80% of U.S. consumers say they are limiting or avoiding sugar in their diets, and replacing sugar with low-calorie sweeteners is one way people attempt to solve this conundrum.

Most sugar substitutes are chemical or plant-based, consumers use it to sweeten or enhance the flavor of foods and drinks because sugar substitutes dont contribute to tooth decay and cavities and may help with weight control and diabetes.

To date, sugar substitutes that the FDA recognizes as generally safe include:

► Fruit juices and nectars

Highly purified stevia



Maple syrup

Some syrups made from monk fruit, pomegranates, coconut or dates may be common, along with syrups made from starches, like sorghum or sweet potato, according to Whole Foods.

9     Plant-meat Blended Products

According to Mintel (5), 36% of consumers purchase plant-based meats, and 26% of consumers reported eating less animal meat in the past 12 months. U.S. alternative meat market estimate to be worth $100 billion by 2035 as consumers seek to reduce meat consumption amid growing concerns over health risks and environmental hazards of industrial animal farming, which are driving the plant-based meat trend.

Now, plant-based meat is fast becoming a staple of more people’s diets. Several largest meat producers in the United States, Tyson, Smithfield, Perdue, and Hormel have all rolled out meat alternatives, filling supermarket shelves. Consumers can find plant-based beef, burgers, sausages, meatballs and chicken nuggets sold alongside the packaged meat products in nearly every supermarket, grocery store, and fast-food restaurants across the United States.

10   Alcohol-alternative Drinks

The non-alcoholic beverage market is forecasted to reach $1252.54 billion by 2024 according to PR Newswire. (8) Asia Pacific was the largest region in the global non-alcoholic drink market, accounting for 37% of the market in 2018. Western Europe was the second largest region accounting for 24% of the global non-alcoholic drink market and Africa was the smallest region in the global non-alcoholic drink market.

Millions of people across America have serious drinking problems. Fortunately, there are a wide range of healthy alternatives to drinking that provide nutrition, antioxidants, and probiotics without increasing alcohol-related risks. These healthy non-alcoholic drinks include fruit and vegetable juice, functional drinks, RTD (Ready-to-drink) tea and coffee. The other segment includes jelly beverages, rose syrup-based beverages. 

Some examples of these non-alcoholic drinks include:

Club soda

Sparkling juices

Non-alcoholic mixed drinks (i.e., “mocktails”) that mimic the taste of their alcohol-containing counterparts

Alt-gin for gin and tonics or botanical-infused faux spirits for a faux martini, both would appeal to customers not wanting to drink.

Non-alcoholic beverages also support detoxing, weight loss, digestive health, nutrition and in some cases act as meal replacements.

In the market of the future, 10 key trends will provide the biggest growth opportunities for entrepreneurs and creative product developers in the business of food, beverage and health, and will help them make informed decisions about strategy and new product development for each of the major food and beverage categories in 2020 and beyond.



1        J. Peasant Stud.  (2011) 38, 145– 160.

2        Capital. Nat. Social. (2010) 21, 83–95

3        European unio-World Atlas of Desertification,  (2018), 3rd edition of the World Atlas of Desertification, Publication Office of the European unio, Luxembourg

4        Science. (2004) Vol 304 pp 1623- 1627 Special Section: Soils-The Final Frontier.






Author Biography

Lin Zhang, Ph.D., senior director of a health care industry company in the United States. With the experience in clinical medicine, biotechnology, health industry and other fields, he is responsible for the research and development of plant medicine, functional food and health products. He was a clinician and worked for the National Cancer Institute, FDA and the National Cancer Center of Japan for many years.


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