Now that we’re well into the 2017, it’s safe to say that certain foods and beverages are outshining others in regards to new product launches, menu appearances and overall hype. As always, Nelson-Jameson is here to digest all of these culinary crazes into bite-sized highlights with our annual food and beverage trends blog! Here’s what we predict will be more than just a flash in the pan:

You Don’t Know Jack…Yet

Plant-based meat alternatives are gaining major traction in both the restaurant and grocery worlds, which means we’re likely to see a veggie-centric shift in the variety of tasty protein sources available to supplement a healthy diet. Jackfruit, an Asian tree fruit that’s part of the mulberry family, has a fibrous flesh suitable for replacing pulled pork in recipes. Low in carbs and calories but high in protein and potassium, it provides a healthful yet hearty boost to tacos, barbeque, sandwiches, curries and more.

You will also see meat substitutes be given more of an equal-billing in your local food retail establishments. Vegetarian and Vegan “butcher” shops are popping up in urban areas such as Minneapolis and New York; and, supermarkets such as Whole Foods, have begun to merchandise Beyond Meat, a ground meat alternative (and Nelson-Jameson customer!), alongside its beefy peers in the butcher case. Looks like veggies will be moving up to entrée status on a more regular basis!

Label Maker

A major trend in the dairy category this year will be ‘Clean Label’. Clean Label foods are generally those that are minimally processed, natural or organic, “free-from” certain additives and/or have simple, understandable ingredients. In other words, clean label is all about transparency to the consumer. The concept is being hailed as the new “global standard” in dairy processing, and is predicted to eventually incorporate the entire supply chain. It’s advised that dairy processors view clean label as a strategic approach to “increase consumer trust and to mitigate brand risk” and focus on “back to basics” product formulation. It looks like the approach will likely be profitable-- -studies claim that 75% of consumers are willing to pay more for clean label products.

Sweet Talk

Many have hailed 2016 as the “Year of the Sugar Tax”, and it appears that things aren’t going to slow down on the legislative front in 2017 with many cities, states and countries considering versions of sugar taxes in the name of health. In the United States, the FDA will require the that the “Nutrition Facts” label on packaged foods list the added sugars separately from total sugars beginning in 2018. Globally, food manufacturers have been reformulating their products to comply with both the trend and various laws, with a “low sugar” claim seemingly being the sweet spot. However, words like “low” and “added” seem to be somewhat subjective, and some in the food industry plan to respond to sugar legislation with litigation. It looks like we may be in for one long, bittersweet ride.

Health Club

As these three food and beverage trends highlight, health is at the forefront in 2017. Look for lots of buzzwords like “better for you”, “free-from”, “clean label”, “organic” and “natural” on food packaging, restaurant menus and in food marketing. Because for food processors this year, health truly may mean wealth.