Research by the United States Department of Health and Human Services indicates that Americans eat fewer vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dairy, and healthy fats than recommended by nutrition experts . An astounding 90% of Americans eat more salt than recommended. Another report projects that half of all US adults will become obese by 2030.
Because of those sobering statistics, many Americans are starting to pay attention to their diets, and companies are responding by creating new and exciting products. As the calendar turns to 2020, these are seven of the top health product trends to follow.
1. Regenerative Agriculture
Our look at the top health product trends in 2020 starts where all products start: the soil.
As consumer demand continues to grow across all industries in the face of the impending environmental crisis, companies are looking for ways to meet that demand in environmentally sustainable ways. This has led to the rise of regenerative agriculture, a new science focusing on sustainable farming with a focus on soil health and productivity.
In truth, regenerative agriculture is merely a return to traditional farming practices before big business and the Industrial Revolution prioritized short-term profit over long-term environmental impact. It focuses on the reduction of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, improved water conservation, crop rotation, and sustainable livestock grazing .
Unsurprisingly, these practices lead to healthier soils, and research shows that these healthier soils have a more robust microbiome of bacteria, fungi, and nematodes that result in healthier, more nutrient-dense foods . A 2013 study in Agricultural Systems also concluded that regenerative farming practices help agricultural land support more livestock with decreased mortality rates and feed costs . It is a win-win-win for consumers, farmers, and product manufacturers.
As both the human population and consumer demand continue to swell, regenerative farming and other sustainable practices will only become more important.
2. Exciting New Flours
The United States Department of Agriculture estimates per capita wheat consumption has declined significantly over the last 20 years from 147 pounds per capita in 1997 to 131.8 pounds per capita in 2017 . That 10.3% reduction primarily is due to the rising popularity of keto and other low carbohydrate diets.
People are turning to alternatives like almond flour that have far fewer carbohydrates and more protein and fiber. Consumers are likely to begin seeing new alternatives made from fruits and vegetables such as cauliflower and even banana. We will also see a continued rise in pre-packages goods like chips being made with alternative flours.
3. Plant-Meat Blended Products
Consumer demand for plant-based products and meat substitutes is putting pressure on companies that specialize in meat products to innovate or die. A Whole Foods media release detailing the company’s forecast for 2020 wrote that “butchers and meat brands won’t be left out of the ‘plant-based’ craze in 2020, but they’re not going vegetarian” .
Instead, these companies are looking to create plant-meat blends in an attempt to make their products more attractive to consumers who want to buy plant-based products. For example, the James Beard Foundation sponsors The Blended Burger Project, which aims to make a better burger by blending in up to 25% mushrooms . It is safe to say we will see more such blended products in the coming years.
4. Soy Alternatives
Soy is one of the most popular plant-based substitutes, but it is also one of the most common allergies in the United States. This is leading companies to find soy alternatives with products like mung beans, hempseed, and avocado leading the charge.
5. Expanding Coconut Craze
NutriCompany’s look at 5 Common Health Products highlighted the impressive rise in demand for coconut water, which is expected to increase by 500% from 2014-2024 . Expect to see more variety in coconut products over the next few years. You probably have already seen coconut ice cream hitting the frozen section in grocery stores, and that will not be the end of innovation as companies look to capitalize on coconut’s current popularity and attractive health benefits.
6. Focus on Convenience
Sports nutrition products, such as protein bars and energy drinks with natural sources of caffeine, are finding their way into convenience stores with increasing frequency. This is no accident as research shows that convenience store customers are a highly-prized consumer group, spending 40% more than the typical American . As our society continues to place emphasis on both healthy food choices and on-the-go consumption, it only makes sense that health products will continue to find their way onto convenience store shelves.
7. Rise of Oat Milk
The next time you get your caffeine fix at your local coffee shop, ask if they can make it with oat milk. Chances are they can. While oat milk lacks the same protein power that both soy and typical dairy milks provide, it is packed with fiber and fortified with A, D, and B vitamins . Oat milk also is a great source of beta-glucans, which are known to be great for your heart health. In fact, a study found that men who drank three cups of oat milk every day for five weeks saw a 3% reduction in total cholesterol and a 5% reduction in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol . That is the bad stuff your doctor was warning you about.
Even if oat milk fails to become a refrigerator staple like almond milk has, you will probably start seeing it more often in products like ice cream, yogurt, and coffee creamers.