Pollock Communications and leading nutrition trade magazine, Today’s Dietitian, released the results of their fifth annual “What’s Trending in Nutrition” national food trend survey, which polled over 1,700 registered dietitian (RDs) across the country this year’s big trends in food and eating. Overall, results reveal a decline in consumers’ interest in dieting. Instead, many are choosing clean and mindful eating as their path to healthier living.
“Year-to-year, our unprecedented connection with Registered Dietitians – the real authorities on all matters of food and nutrition – has enabled us to document the movement towards mindful eating,” said Mara Honicker, publisher of Today’s Dietitian. “This annual increase in attention to eating with purpose and care is also reflected in the top 10 superfood trends. There has been a consistent focus on foods that are nutrient-rich – like seeds, avocados and nuts – along with those that have health-promoting qualities, like fermented foods and green tea.”
Dietitians are attributing the latest shift in consumer food perception to the growing trend of “mindful eating,” a slower and more thoughtful approach to eating. Based on the survey, 49 percent of RDs say that consumers will choose mindful eating over dieting. In addition, 59 percent say consumers will choose to “eat clean,” by looking to consume foods that are less processed and more whole foods such as veggies, fruits, ancient grains and green tea, as well as plant-based proteins like nuts and seeds.
For the last five years, the What’s Trending in Nutrition survey has been a leader in identifying and tracking the next significant trends in food for the upcoming year. In terms of what foods are still topping the coveted Top 10 Superfoods list, the survey shows that nuts and seeds still hold top spots, fermented foods take fourth place, and kale has lost some footing and continues to move down the list in comparison to previous years.
Top 10 Superfoods for 2017
|1. Seeds, like chia and hemp
3. Nuts, like almonds and walnuts
4. Fermented foods like yogurt
5. Ancient grains
7. Green tea
8. Coconut products
9. Exotic fruits
Food Transparency Has Eased Consumer Concern
Compared to 2016, dietitians report that consumers will be less concerned with the food trends of previous years, such as:
- Foods that are GMO-free, sustainable or gluten-free.
- GMO-free and sustainable foods have experienced on average a 20 percent decrease in terms of what concerns consumers. Dietitians attribute this decline to food label transparency and more food companies changing their ingredient deck. In contrast, consumers will be looking for more low-sodium and sugar-free options in 2017.
Top Tips from Registered Dietitians for Eating Healthier in 2017
The survey also captures RDs’ top tips for how to eat healthier and make smarter purchasing decisions next year. Their best advice for consumers includes:
- Eating more servings of fruits and vegetables.
- Choosing high-quality, nutrient-rich foods in all food groups.
- Limiting consumption of highly processed foods.
- And instead of focusing on diets, RDs recommend choosing foods based on a wholesome ingredient list and high level of quality proteins and carbs.
In addition, each year, Choose MyPlate, the United States Department of Agriculture’s guidelines for healthy eating (myplate.gov), continues to play an important role in nutrition education, with 80% of dietitians utilizing MyPlate as a tool to help consumers eat right—up from 76% last year.
Digital Fitness and the Home Delivery Age Help Consumers Make Better Food Choices
Technology has undoubtedly made shopping for healthier food and losing weight easier, and dietitians have noticed by unearthing these insights:
- 84% of RDs believe that technology is providing new options to help consumers make better food choices and/or eat healthier.
- New technologies are helping to shape the future of nutrition with 67% of RDs recommending apps, such as MyFitnessPal and the Fitbit App to plan and track food activity.
- Pre-portioned meal delivery services such as Blue Apron and Fresh Direct have also skyrocketed – 45% of consumers are now turning to these and similar healthy meal or weight loss menu delivery programs in order to eat healthier.
Not All Shopping Carts Are Created Equal – Barriers to Purchasing Healthy Foods
Although consumer awareness of healthy food has increased and mindful eating is on the rise in 2017, issues of access and cost continue to prevent certain populations from being able to eat and purchase healthy food.
- For low-income consumers, RDs say that cost, above all other factors including physical health, is the largest barrier when making food purchasing decisions. This often makes healthy eating options out of reach for low income families.
- RDs recommend increasing affordability and availability of nutritious food in low-income areas to help reduce barriers to healthy eating.
“The annual Pollock Communications and Today’s Dietitian survey continues to provide a powerful view of what consumers are thinking and doing,” said Louise Pollock, founder and president of Pollock Communications. “Registered dietitians have firsthand knowledge of how and what Americans eat. Therefore, each year consumers, industry and health professionals get a front row seat and unrivaled access to what’s trending in nutrition.”
From food celebs like kale or cauliflower and claims like gluten-free or no additives, to diet plans like Paleo or vegan, there’s only one way to know what to look for (and eat) in 2016: ask 450 nutrition pros. The fourth annual “What’s Trending in Nutrition” Survey from Pollock Communications and Today’s Dietitian does just that and tells us what consumers will seek and avoid in the coming year.
“When it comes to forecasting nutrition trends, there are no better experts than registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs). They are at the forefront of everyday eating habits and purchasing decisions of people from all regional and economic environments. With almost two decades of working on behalf of dietitians, we know they have their finger on the pulse,” says Today’s Dietitian publisher Mara Honicker.
For 2016, the survey, conducted by the nutrition trade magazine Today’s Dietitian and a leading food, health, and wellness public relations agency, Pollock Communications, revealed that clean eating is where it’s at, ancient grains stay strong, low fat moves out, and seeds steal the show. Not to mention that shoppers will seek more seafood, read more blogs, buy based on antibiotic-free claims, and continue to favor gluten-free.
Whether they’re in, out, or staying the course, the following are the top 10 findings for 2016:
1. Clean Shopping
According to the survey, RDNs agree that more consumers will base their purchasing decisions on “clean eating”, or shopping for foods that fit a plant-based diet, such as a Mediterranean-style diet. Gluten-free and Paleo diets will still be popular, but the nutrition pros’ results show that consumers will move towards “clean” vs caveman.
2. Seeds Bloom
Most registered dietitians say seeds (55%) have superfood star-power, followed by avocados (52%) and ancient grains (50%). Meanwhile, kale loses its luster. When it comes to popular beverages, green tea brews to the top.
3. And the Influencer Award Goes To…
Celebrities! According to the survey, most registered dietitians believe that nutrition trends start with celebrities, with 33% citing them as the initiator of food and eating fads, while 26% name social media as having the most influence on consumer eating trends.
4. Protein Picks and Peaks
Shopping carts will have less beef, bacon, and other processed and red meats as more consumers look to seafood, nuts and seeds, eggs, poultry, and dairy to provide quality protein in their diets. That said, the number of individuals focusing their attention on high protein eating may have peaked—two-thirds of RDNs say that protein enthusiasm will be about the same in 2016.
5. Shopping for Free
When it comes to the messages and claims that impact shopping decisions, 2016 will look for “free.” Claims like “GMO-free” and “antibiotic-free” will prompt purchases, as will “additive-free” and “locally sourced.” The question is whether these characteristics actually drive healthier purchases. Jenna Bell, PhD, RDN, senior vice president, director of food & wellness for Pollock Communications, says you can’t be so sure. “While consumers may look for GMO-free or other “free-from” claims on the label, it doesn’t mean that it has always led to healthier, more nutritious options.” Dr. Bell warns that an unintended consequence of choosing “free” foods could be that consumers might not assess the overall healthfulness, consider food safety issues, understand truly sustainable practices, or might pay unnecessary costs. “Make decisions based on the quality of the whole food and the variety and quality of your overall diet,” Dr. Bell suggests.
6. A Matter of Taste
When it comes to deciding what to eat, RDNs say that taste and convenience are consumers’ most important considerations. Some 97% and 93% responded that convenience and taste, respectively, are important or very important when it comes to deciding what to eat. While healthfulness is the not the deciding factor according to one-half of the respondents, Dr. Bell points out, “Even when you’re making healthy choices, RDNs know that taste and convenience are deal breakers if not satisfied.”
7. Healthy Eating — There’s an App for That
Seventy-one percent of RDNs believe more consumers will use technology to help improve their diet in 2016, likely tracking their food intake or activity with smartphone apps or wearables like MyFitnessPal, LoseIt, and Fitbit, among others.
8. Blogs, Social Media and TV Trumps…
When it comes to getting nutrition information, the RDNs cited blogs, social media and TV – in that order. “This could be good news,” remarks Dr. Bell, “a growing number of RDNs author national and personal blogs, are active on social networks and are making TV appearances.” Dr. Bell notes that for credible information, look for that RD or RDN after their name when online or watching TV.
9. Mis-Fortunate Information…
However, not all blogs are created equal. Nearly two-thirds of RDNs are concerned that consumers are getting wrong and potentially harmful nutrition information from blogs and social media. Dr. Bell speculates that this may be due to the number of non-experts sharing information.
10. Nutrition Ed — Choose MyPlate
Year after year, Choose MyPlate, the USDA’s guidance for healthy eating (myplate.gov), continues to play an important role in nutrition education, with 76% of dietitians utilizing MyPlate as a tool to help consumers eat right—up from 73% last year.
“Registered dietitian nutritionists are the top experts for consumers, brands, and the media, in all things food and nutrition. Hence, Pollock Communications has been working with the RDN community for nearly 20 years. Their insights and expertise are unprecedented, making The “What’s Trending in Nutrition” Survey a valuable tool to forecast new data in the food and beverage industry for all aspects of the business,” remarks Louise Pollock, founder and president of Pollock Communications.
It’s National Iced Tea Month, and to commemorate this momentous occasion, Pollock Communications has been promoting fun facts and interesting news from a national survey of tea drinkers. Thanks to the team’s hard work, dedication, strong contacts and creativity, we secured a placement for our Tea Council of the USA client on the front page of USA TODAY timed to National Iced Tea Day. In addition to the print coverage of the Tea Council survey, USA TODAY shared it over their Twitter feed, and toward the end of the day, #NationalIcedTeaDay was trending on Twitter! Now that’s something to drink to!
Cranberries are a deliciously scrumptious addition to school foodservice menus, and this powerhouse of nutrients makes perfect sense for growing bodies. To help raise awareness for America’s Original Superfruit® – cranberries, among school foodservice employees, Pollock worked with the Cranberry Marketing Committee USA (CMC) and Flik Independent School Dining a division of Compass Group (the leading foodservice management company in North America) to create a unique twist on school lunch options. In a national recipe contest, school foodservice chefs across the country flexed their culinary muscles to create unique offerings featuring cranberries. Danny Avenel, chef manager at Porter-Gaud School in Charleston, S.C. was declared the $2,000 grand prize winner in the 2015 Cranberry Marketing Committee USA / Flik Independent School Dining (Flik) Cranberry Recipe Contest. Avenel, aided by his school’s Head Cook Sam Dudley, came out on top for his inventive “Cranberry, Kale and Quinoa Stuffed Poblano and Duck Tacos” topped with Cranberry Chipotle Sour Cream.
In addition to the grand prize, there were also four category-winning recipes:
- Breakfast: Cranberry Sweet Potato Hash with Poached Egg from James Patterson, Director of Dining Services for Convent of the Sacred Heart in Greenwich, Conn.
- Lunch: Bayou Cranberry Crab Cakes from Brandon Adams, Chef Manager for Trinity Episcopal School – New Orleans in New Orleans, La.
- Snack: Cranberry and Roasted Beet Hummus from Jeremy Dmyterko, Executive Chef for St. Luke’s School in New Canaan, Conn.
- Grilling/Summer: Grilled Spicy Cranberry Pesto Shrimp over Curried Israeli Cous Cous with Mango and Dried Cranberries from Scott Iwanicki, Executive Chef at The Ethel Walker School in Simsbury, Conn.
The promotion was a huge success. According to Scott J. Soares, Executive Director of the Cranberry Marketing Committee USA, “This contest celebrates the talent and creativity of school foodservice professionals, as well as their efforts to provide students with great tasting, nutritious meals year-round. I was impressed with their creativity and the variety of recipes featuring cranberries–America’s Original Superfruit.”
The entrants’ creative recipes will also be added to the growing collection of recipes offered by the CMC at http://www.uscranberries.com.