January ushers in a time of reflection and positive change. Many New Year’s resolutions involve making healthier food and lifestyle choices—and that can impact what you see in grocery stores, on restaurant menus, and at your favorite café.
What new healthier food trends will 2020 bring? We posed this question to Aramark Chefs Mike Coble, Marion Gibson and Tim Zintz (left to right above). Here are the ones they expect to hit big time in the coming year.
MEGATREND #1: FROM PLANT-BASED TO PLANT-FORWARD
Have you heard the news?Plants aren’t just for vegans and vegetarians. “As more people become concerned with their general health and the environment, the demand for plant-based foods will only increase,” says Chef Tim.
What it is: Being plant-forward simply means putting more plants on your plate: fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, beans, lentils and seeds. When plants are the star of your meal, you naturally use less meat. This eating style has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. It can also help you maintain a healthy weight.
Plant-forward diets have gained traction in part because they are so flexible. “You can be plant-forward without being plant-exclusive,” Chef Marion explains. “When people understand it’s not all-or-nothing, the idea feels much more approachable. This is actually the concept behind some of our newer restaurant rotations, such as Twisted Beet.”
The trend is good for the planet, too, helping to reduce your carbon footprint and the amount of greenhouse gases that end up in the atmosphere.
What to expect: Here are a few products you can expect to see more often:
- Milk Alternatives: Mainstream options like almond and soy milk will continue to be joined by more and more plant-based alternatives such as oat, cashew and sunflower milk. You may spot them on the shelf in other products, too—think non-dairy yogurt, ice cream and cheese.
- Flour Alternatives: You already know whole grain flour is great for your fiber goals. Watch as variations made from fruits and vegetables become more available. (Banana flour and split-pea flour, anyone?)
- Protein Options: Soy isn’t the only plant-based protein in town. Mung bean, hempseed and avocado will have a moment in 2020.
- Syrup Swaps: Need a touch of natural sweetness? More people are looking beyond honey. You’ll find alternatives made from pomegranates, coconut and monk fruit, to name a few.
- New Butters and Spreads: High-quality, traditional butter is enjoying a resurgence. At the same time, the marketplace is awash with new plant-based options. Look for heart-healthier spreads made from the oils of olives, avocados, almonds and more.
MEGATREND #2: SUSTAINABILITY TAKES CENTER STAGE
Building a sustainable future means we all have to make a positive impact on people and planet. From the foods we eat to the things we buy, for people to prosper, we need a healthy planet. At Aramark, we call our approach Be Well. Do Well.
What it is: Today, you will likely see companies answering several common questions such as what’s in their food, where does it come from and how was it produced more often than before. Also, what happens to food waste at the end of the process?
“That’s because, younger generations—Generation Z in particular—have high expectations for the brands they support,” says Chef Mike. “They want to eat local whenever possible, and their commitment to humane and ethical business practices is uncompromising. They want their food to tell that story, too.”
This storytelling will consider everyone involved in the food or product’s lifecycle: farmers and other suppliers, restaurant chains and more.
What to expect: In addition to shorter ingredient lists, products will showcase how they match up with our evolving values in a few ways:
- Plant Inclusion: As Chef Marion covered in Megatrend #1, in addition to being good for you, plant-forward meals help reduce greenhouse gas emissions that harm our atmosphere. They also help preserve other vital resources like land, energy and water. You’re sure to see even more plant-based choices as part of our plant-forward initiative when you dine with us and almost everywhere you eat from fast food restaurants to your favorite neighborhood café.
- Ethical Sourcing: Food labels go beyond nutritional information. Increasingly, they provide details on other practices like fair trade, animal welfare and local sourcing. Expect this trend to continue as more and more ingredients and products highlight additional information about where they came from, how they were grown or raised and the individuals or communities who provided them.
- Packaging: We’ve seen the headlines. Single-use plastics are causing major issues around the world. The concern the public has with plastic pollution is putting pressure on food companies to find sustainable alternatives. Whether it’s to-go boxes or at-home leftover containers, we can expect to see more of a move toward eco-friendly and reusable materials. At Aramark we’re committed to reducing waste before it’s generated. We are reducing single-use plastics, introducing reusable containers and working with suppliers to innovate packaging.
MEGATREND #3: THE RETURN OF THE SUPERFOOD
If we believe in one thing, it’s that food can help us be our very best selves. This idea is expected to gain even more momentum in 2020.
What it is: Chef Tim sums it up:“When you eat well, you feel well. There’s the food-mood connection, of course, but also the power of a healthy diet to improve your overall well-being can’t be ignored.”
The Mediterranean diet has long been considered the gold standard in this realm, with its emphasis on fresh produce, healthy fats, and lean meat and seafood. But it’s certainly not the only option!
“In 2020, I anticipate a renewed focus on functional properties—what individual foods can do for your body,” Chef Tim shares.
What to expect: You may see more products featuring berries and olive oil—two sources of antioxidants that fight disease and promote healthy aging. There are also foods thought to help improve and enhance cognitive function. A few examples are turmeric, wild blueberries, salmon, broccoli, walnuts, egg yolks and seaweed.
“Superfoods are often relegated to Top 10 lists, but that doesn’t really do them justice—there are so many healthy foods out there!” says Chef Tim.
He also forecasts the rise of healthy indulgences—snacks and other products enriched with nutrient-dense foods. These better-for-you foods may have a dose of added superfood, like spinach-based pasta. Another example is high-protein ice cream, which contains less sugar and fewer calories than the traditional scoop. “In addition to grocery stores, I think we’ll soon start to see more items like this on menus, too.”
MEGATREND #4: ADVENTURES AWAIT
In addition to fun vacations, your plate offers a world of possibilities. “One way people seek new experiences is through their meals,” says Chef Marion. “Whether you sprinkle on a new seasoning or try an entirely new dish, it’s a great way to spice things up.”
What it is: As international travel becomes more accessible and the United States more diverse, we’ve witnessed a globalization of flavors. “People are curious about others’ food and customs,” Chef Marion adds. “They’re more willing to move outside their culinary comfort zone, especially at dinnertime.”
What to expect: In 2020, expect to see new tastes and ingredients, used in unique combinations with greater focus on the flavor source. Instead of sweeping terms like “Mexican,” you might see references to regions, such as Veracruz, Oaxaca or Yucatan. Similarly, “Southern” food may be identified as having roots in Appalachian, Lowcountry or Creole cuisine.
“We’re also seeing West African food pop up everywhere,” Chef Mike observes. “The region happens to be known for its superfoods that benefit health and longevity.” These include familiar ingredients such as tomatoes, onions, chili peppers, peanuts and ginger, but also lesser-known cereal grains like sorghum, fonio, teff, and millet.
A FRESH START
With all of these megatrends on the horizon, we’re happy to say that 2020 is forecasted to be both healthy and delicious. Follow us on Instagram @Aramark and sign up for our newsletter as our chefs and dietitians share new recipes and meal ideas throughout the year!
Note: Since everyone’s health history and nutritional needs are so different, please make sure that you talk with your doctor and a registered dietitian to get advice about the diet and exercise plan that‘s right for you.