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Nori sheets are among the options consumers are turning to for quick and easy mdash and nutritious mdash snacks
<p>Nori sheets are among the options consumers are turning to for quick and easy &mdash; and nutritious &mdash; snacks.</p>

2014 Prediction #6: Consumers Forgo Functional for Nutrient Dense

Ginger beer, nori sheets and pu-erh tea are a few of the inherently nutritious foods and drinks that will benefit from consumers’ predilection for easy to consume pick-me-ups in 2014, said Melissa Abbott, director of culinary insights for The Hartman Group, a Bellevue, Wash., market research company with a consumer-centric approach.

“The important distinction is that it’s not about functional foods; that’s not what consumers are interested in,” said Abbott of foods with added calcium, omega-3s or other nutrients. “They are looking to their snacks to provide much more of an [inherently] nutritious profile.”

The Hartman Group finds that Americans are snacking their way through the day on food and beverages; during the time traditionally reserved for lunch; after work but before dinner; while cooking; after dinner; while watching TV; and anytime they feel they deserve a reward.

Portability will be key, as sustenance-providing snacks are often consumed on-the-go. Think protein-rich options liked pre-boiled and already peeled eggs, for energy, as opposed to an energy drink. Snacks that swap out processed white wheat flour for meals and flours made from nuts or ancient grains will also strengthen their foothold, Abbott said. 

High-quality jerky is another category that’s gaining steam as Paleo dieters — those who strive to eat the meats, seafood, vegetables, fruits and nuts that our caveman ancestors did — seek exotic meats, according to Abbott.

“The Paleo folks are looking for lean, wild meats, but their friends, neighbors and colleagues are saying, ‘We’ll just sort of pick up on that behavior.’ So we’re seeing a lot of uptick with jerky, meat bars and meat sticks,” she said.


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Food trends rooted in Peruvian culture are also on the horizon as native flavors and preparation techniques filter down from restaurants to fast casual eateries and eventually grocery stores.

“We’re starting to see the ingredients in the form of different chili peppers and ceviche, so it will be exciting to see what happens in supermarkets,” Abbott said.

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