Eric Pierce, director, strategy and insights, New Hope Natural Media
The biggest natural food trend in 2016 will be disruption. If a category hasn’t been disrupted yet, it won’t be long before it is turned on its head. More specifically, I think we will see potential growth in mass retail within a few areas this year. I’d keep an eye on ‘Ethical/Sustainable Protein’ including grass-fed, pastured, plant-based and other attempts to meet growing demand for humanely and sustainably raised proteins. ‘Probiotic and Fermented’ foods are also promising; with the health benefits of probiotics now widely accepted, consumers are looking beyond supplements and yogurt toward heritage fermented foods and beverages such as kraut, kimchi, kefir and kombucha. While already well established, we will continue to see growth of ‘Convenient Nutrition’ including high-quality, nutrient-dense snacking and new healthy variations of ‘convenience meals’ and ‘cooking made easy’ products (refrigerated, frozen and center store).
Suzy Monford, CEO, Andronico’s
2016 will be the year of people — like Andronico’s, more stores will invest in health coaches to teach how to shop, cook and live healthily, and meatless meals, as fabulous new meat alternatives like jackfruit (The Jackfruit Company was hottest product at Expo East!) take center plate. "
Derek Mansfield, chief revenue officer, Relay Foods
There are two big trends we expect to see in 2016. The first trend is continued acceleration in consumer demand for local foods — a growing number of consumers will seek out new ways to buy more products from local suppliers. This will be driven by consumers' desire to support local food economies and reduce food miles to help the environment, alongside increasing calls for transparency about ingredients and production processes, which comes more readily with local food production. The second trend is meal solutions. Families are busier than ever, but trading off quality, home-cooked meals for unhealthy convenience meals is not a compromise many families — increasingly aware of the costs and trade-offs involved in unhealthy eating — are willing to make. So customers will seek out food partners who can provide simple, healthy meal solutions using high-quality ingredients.
Kim Kirchherr, registered dietitian and IGA’s health and wellness advisor
Back to the basics — an interest in reconnecting with simple ingredients, cooking processes, and where food comes from. A focus on reduction of wasting food and being more mindful of making better choices.
Kara Nielsen, culinary director, Sterling-Rice Group
Better “meat” offerings for all. Both carnivores and vegetarians will be presented with the continued onslaught of better natural products that either feature real meat — natural, organic, grass-fed, pastured — or imitation “meat” made from plants and plant proteins. We’ll see more real meat snacks featuring soft textures, global flavors, and fruit and grain inclusions, as well as convenience products, often frozen, showcasing well-raised and tasty meat or poultry. For non-meat eaters, plants will continue to be magically transformed into meat-like patties, sandwich and taco fillings, and convenient mini-meals, offering all consumers flavorful and more sustainable meat alternatives.