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The 2020 food forecast

Farming practices will take center stage.

“People are going to be increasingly concerned with buying fair trade products,” says Krista Scott-Dixon, Ph.D., a coach and director of curriculum development at Precision Nutrition in Vancouver. With expanding conversations around immigration, and an increase in TV shows, such as Netflix’s Rotten, taking on issues around farming and food production, ethics are are now at the center of consumer awareness. As a result, companies will start to be more transparent about their practices, she says. 

Pre-made food will be customizable.

“Personalized and customized food is going to be big,” says Leigh Weissman, Equinox's New York City-based food and beverage director. Companies like Gainful and Kyoku offer protein powders and shakes tailored to your personal needs (determined via an online questionnaire). For stressed commuters, for example, a company might provide a juice with calming lavender oil, she says.

Zero-proof cocktails with botanical ingredients will appear on more menus.

“People are starting to better understand the effects of alcohol both mentally and physically,” says Lauren DeLuca, a Tier X coach and certified sports nutrition specialist at Gold Coast in Chicago. “In the days after drinking, serotonin levels are low, which leads to irritability and anxiety.” To prevent this, athletes are turning to alcohol-free options when out. Instead of ordering a sparkling water as a healthier substitute, you will increasingly be able to find flavorful and high-quality booze-free spirits at restaurants and bars, she says. Mocktails tend to be laden with unhealthy additives, Weissman says. But many of these non-alcoholic drinks will be made with tea and botanical ingredients, like lavender, that will boost flavor without requiring sugar.

Fasting will take on different forms.

While there are a variety of ways to fast, you will see new growth and development in this way of eating, as research dives deeper into its potential benefits, says Robin Foroutan, RD, New York City-based integrative dietician at The Morrison Center and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. One example is fasting-mimicking. “It’s essentially an eating plan for fasted periods that’s low enough in calories and protein for the body to think it’s fasting even though you’re eating food,” she says.

Meat alternatives will become less processed.

“The plant-based trend isn’t going anywhere,” says Weissman. "But I think we’ll see options becoming less processed. People assume that plant-based equals healthy, but now that’s starting to get questioned. As a result, companies will have to develop products that contain fewer unfamiliar ingredients [such as pyridoxine hydrochloride and cultured dextrose]." Meati Foods is currently beta testing mushroom-based chicken and steaks that mimic the texture and taste of real meat, but are made with only 5 ingredients.