The trend that stands out this year is veganism. There are wide variations in the estimates of how big veganism is. Our own figure at MMR – based on surveying consumer tendencies rather than strict guidelines – is that 8% of the population are making active changes towards vegan living – rising to nearly double this figure among the under 35s. And whilst it is more likely to be a ‘southern urban thing’, it will grow because there are multiple drivers supporting it. First, vegan is perceived to be healthy – linked to the popularity of plant based eating. Second, there is the ethical stance linked to animal welfare. All of which provides a third and probably most powerful driver – vegan is a platform for people to assert personal autonomy over their lives as well as provide a source of connection with others. The Food Programme on BBC Radio 4 recently described veganism as a social shift. I tell you, vegan is the trend right now!
So, whilst vegan is the trend, paleo was the fad. There was no real sign of paleo at Food Matters Live. Even Primal Pantry, which was born out of the paleo stable has all but abandoned it in favour of a clean label, real food, high protein positioning. So, whilst a grain free diet might have a cult following, there simply wasn’t enough for the rest of us to grab hold of to make paleo our personal choice manager in a world full of dietary options.
So, with these dynamics in mind, I offer you my ‘Triple A’ trends. Three central organising thoughts that I believe will have their time. Trends that transcend washouts like paleo, omega 3 and even quinoa.
A for Absorption
The Nutri-bullet has been a global phenomenon. Demand frequently out stripped supply in 2015. And whilst sales have since tailed off, those who did buy one were enthusiastically exposed to the idea of nutrient extraction plastered all over the box. The Nutri-bullet claimed to break down fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and other plant foods down to their most absorbable state – allowing the user to get more of the good stuff out of the food they consume.
With millennials seeking ammunition to support highly competitive lives – I can absolutely see a trend emerging around heightened absorption of nutrients. Brands that invest in processes that deliver short cut energy boosts, top-ups and shots more effectively through absorption, will secure competitive edge – particularly as energy from sugar is now such a crime.
Many of those Nutri-Bullet owners will be too lazy to use it as regularly as they’d like to – and I’m betting that they’ll be highly attracted to ready-made highly absorbable food stuffs.
A is for Ayurveda
Ever since I discovered Himalayan India, I have been fascinated by the ayurvedic approach to living. It is the original holistic approach to health and wellness and works on a highly personalised level. It reflects many other trends such as plant based eating, clean label and it adds turmeric to everything!
It is not my intention to define the full scope of an ayurvedic way of life, but its purpose – to pay more attention to the energetic effects of food – both physically and spiritually – has every chance of catching on in the West in the medium to longer term.
We’re told to expect more Western trends that have eastern origins. My money is on ayurvedic as a future ‘platform of personal autonomy’. It is up to brand owners to democratise something that has been bubbling under for years. Perhaps the tipping point will be the claimed impact on mental well-being, which is without doubt becoming a major issue for Western societies to address.
A is for Alkaline
With the rise of plants and veganism, could these substantial trends metamorphose into alkaline living?
A precursory glance at the perils of an acidic diet – predominantly made up of (unfortunately) grains, meat and dairy products – is enough to make you think. Disease loves acidic bodies, we are told.
We know that most consumers adopting plant based eating and veganism are not doing so religiously. Their behaviour is more likely to reflect good intentions where the odd dairy dessert is unlikely to set off alarms.
And so, a more generalised approach to eating – like an alkaline diet – could ultimately emerge because this trend would still enable the consumer to exert greater control over their health, but it would act more like a lifestyle manager rather than a strait jacket.