10 Key Trends in Food, Nutrition & Health 2016

10 Key Trends 2016 Report Cover

Which are the real GROWTH trends in food and health?

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Recent Case Studies Surging sales prove healthy snacking concept If anyone had any doubts about the growth potential for cheese as a healthy wholefood snack, they should be dispelled by the success of Sargento Balanced Breaks, arguably the 8th or 9th most-successful new product launched in the US in 2015. read more Healthy niches can’t be ignored Many commodity producers have believed themselves insulated from consumer trends that they viewed as niche concerns. That was right 20 years ago – but today is wrong. The consumer dynamic has changed – and the niches are slowly eating up the commodity businesses. read more Big food embraces start-up values There’s an idea that many people have that “big food” – as the much-reviled large food companies of the world are often called – can’t manage and grow small entrepreneurial brands, and can’t respond fast enough to consumers’ desires for products that are natural and organic. read more Win for Kind as FDA backs down In another blow against the out-of-date low-fat orthodoxy that meant that nuts, avocado and salmon couldn’t be described as “healthy”, the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that it will re-think its definition of the word. read more Nutrition labeling benefits not what you think? Does nutrition labeling serve any useful function? It is a question worth asking, since it is an unavoidable fact that the 30-plus years since the drive for ever-more nutrition information on packs kicked off have also seen continuously rising rates of overweight and obesity and diet-related diseases. read more Protein and probiotic makeover for ice cream They’re calling it a “dream come true” – ice cream so nutritionally-potent that there’s no need to feel guilty about eating it. With a sustained energy promise, pro- and prebiotics, fewer calories, half the fat and twice the protein, Brio’s founders believe their premium ice cream, with its proprietary mix of sweeteners, is a bit of heaven on earth as it moves into freezer sections in supermarket chains around the US. read more Cut-price coconut targets mass market It may not seem that the American market has room for yet another coconut-water brand. But when you’re Coconut Beach, and you retail for $0.99, specialise in dollar-store distribution and offer other unique coconut-based products to boot, you can find some space on the shelves. read more Start-up success for soup as juicing trend wanes? Juice cleansing may have peaked in the US market, and a new approach to dietary detoxification – “souping” – is on the rise. Pioneers of the movement say that with more protein and fibre, it’s a far more satisfying way to cleanse. read more Parallel strategies pay off for chia seed brand After six years of supplying seed across several continents, the Chia Co is now also seeing the benefits of co-branding with leading bread and smoothie manufacturers. Meanwhile, it continues to innovate in its single-serve Chia Pods, with plans to target a more mainstream market that’s increasingly interested in plant-based offerings. read more A new angle on pea nutrition for snacks UK start-up Taking the Pea is applying a not-so-serious brand name to a deadly serious challenge for the savoury snacks market, using the protein and fibre nutrition of peas as a vehicle for flavours typically associated with other more mainstream snacks. read more New food innovation hotspot emerges Austin, Texas, is joining Boulder, Colorado, as an established haven for food startups, fostering a growing number of companies that are helping revolutionise the US food and beverage industry. read more
“Healthy” can mean fat
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“Healthy” can mean fat

It’s another blow against the out-of-date science that meant that nuts, avocado and salmon couldn’t be described as “healthy”.

The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that it will re-think its definition of the word “healthy”.

Since 1994, FDA regulations have required that the term “healthy” is used only to describe foods, with the exception of fish and meat, that contain 3g or less of total fat and 1g or less of saturated fat per serving.

Fish and meat were required to have 5g or less of total fat and 2g or less of saturated fat per serving.

What that meant was that salmon could never claim on the label or in advertising to be “healthy” – as it contains 22g of total fat per serving and 4g of saturated fat.

Yet the fat in salmon – omega-3s – is one that is deficient in most people’s diets and has health benefits supported by a mountain of scientific evidence. Salmon is also a source of high-quality, easily-digestible protein.

However, the same regulation allows items like fat-free chocolate pudding, some sugary cereals and low-fat toaster pastries to carry the designation “healthy”.

It’s just one of the many disastrous results from the last 40 years’ obsession with reducing fat in foods – an obsession which we now know was misplaced and based on faulty science.

This old regulation came into the spotlight in March 2015, when the FDA sent a warning letter to snack bar maker Kind, telling the company that at least four of its Kind bars were in violation of labeling rules. Kind uses nuts as one of its main ingredients and had made the mistake of imagining that it could thus describe its products as healthy (after all, nuts are proven to have a beneficial effect in reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease).

Kind changed its labels, but also petitioned the FDA to update its rules about the term healthy to reflect the latest science.

Having reviewed the evidence, the FDA has reversed its original decision and Kind can start to say “healthy” again.

America might be moving on, but in most of Europe dietary guidelines and health professionals remain locked in a the low-fat-is-best dark ages – where a fisherman still couldn’t sell his salmon as “healthy”.

The point of science is that it as it changes it enables us to improve our understanding of the world and change our views on what we should and shouldn’t be doing.

The rising tide of overweight in Europe won’t be turned by more labeling, by healthy eating campaigns or taxes on the food industry (these have all been tried and failed again and again). The biggest step will be when we start to give people science-based, realistic information about healthy food and when Europe’s health professionals and academics have as much courage as the FDA to admit that, “the evidence has changed, so what I believe must change”.


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Julian Mellentin

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