According to a Recent Study/Survey … Mid-January 2017 Edition, Part One

As part of our mission to be the go-to resource for on-the-go restaurant industry professionals, Modern Restaurant Management (MRM) magazine offers highlights of recent research. This first part of Mid-January edition features stalled traffic at restaurants, millennial motivation and trends, trends, trends.  Stay tuned for Part II. 

No Traffic Growth Expected

The new year will bring little to no traffic growth for the total U.S. foodservice market.

U.S. restaurant industry traffic will remain stalled in 2017 in much the same manner it did in 2016, reports The NPD Group.  The new year will bring little to no traffic growth for the total U.S. foodservice market.  Quick service restaurants (QSRs), however, will increase visits by an estimated 1 percent, faring better than the flat growth achieved in  2016. The modest gain for QSRs will offset the anticipated 2 percent decline for full service restaurants, resulting in no-growth traffic  for the industry overall, according to NPD Group’s daily tracking of U.S. consumers’ use restaurants and other foodservice outlets. 

“Restaurant operators are in a position to alter the current forecast, but will need to differentiate themselves from the competition,” says Bonnie Riggs, NPD Group’s restaurant industry analyst. “In the year ahead, it will be critical for them to stay relevant in consumers’ minds, focusing on innovative products, unique promotions, competitive pricing, stating the benefits of eating at restaurants vs. home, and delivering an enjoyable experience.”

Other trends Riggs points out for 2017 include:

The Future Is Now: The importance of Millennials and Gen Zs will accelerate the foodservice industry’s need to be more innovative, as these cohorts are always looking for that “experience,” something new and different.  Without innovation, operators will fall out of the consideration set and risk being overlooked by a large portion of the U.S. population. 

Personal Choice Reigns: To stay current and relevant in this overcrowded restaurant marketplace, operators need to serve the foods people crave and be willing to customize according to consumers’ personal choices. In 2017, more restaurant operators will offer digital menu options, which will enable consumers to customize their orders.   

Home Sweet Home: For several years now, more than 80 percent of meals have been sourced from home; fewer than 20 percent have been sourced from foodservice, and dollars are evenly split between the two.  Commodity costs are expected to continue their decline and this may help restaurant operators in terms of offsetting higher prices for labor and medical insurance costs. However, as the gap widens between away-from-home and at-home food costs, it will make for a more challenging environment for operators to get a greater share of consumers’ wallet.  

Technology: Mobile ordering will grow exponentially. Domino’s is a prime example of the opportunity that exists with this technology. The chain has been on the leading edge of creating ways for customers to place their orders using numerous platforms. This is convenience at its best. Look for many restaurant operators to follow suit and capitalize on this growth opportunity.

Delivery: Third-party providers will continue on a growth path. These third-party delivery services, like Grubhub, Amazon, and DoorDash, are becoming competitors to traditional delivery options. Taking advantage of the increasing popularity of delivery will provide restaurant operators with another avenue to drive traffic.

Restaurant Loyalty Programs: More restaurant operators are likely to develop loyalty programs in the new year to entice customers to visit their restaurants. Historically, these types of programs have been targeted to existing customers, but in 2017 there will be more emphasis placed on attracting visits from consumers who visit restaurants less frequently.  NPD’s recently released report, Losing Our Appetites For Restaurants, finds lighter buyers would respond to these programs.

Main Ingredients

Technomic has been tracking trending flavors for quite some time now, watching as they evolve from the introductory stage into a menu mainstay. As we look beyond flavor, we now wonder which ingredients are emerging on the innovation scale?  Chicken and bacon are, by far, the most popular proteins on sandwiches, but what’s next?

“The Technomic Lifecycle is pushing the envelope by showing us real-time ingredient innovation,” says Bernadette Noone, vice president at Technomic. We’ve noticed with the growth of consumers’ desires to remain healthy, that tofu is the leading cutting-edge protein used in sandwiches. Other ingredients like Muenster cheese, truffle aioli and English muffins were also identified as innovators in the sandwich category.

On the other hand, Technomic often finds that ingredients can be mainstream in some meal categories, while being unique and competitive in others. A perfect example would be “chipotle mayo.” When paired with chicken sandwiches, it is often found in the mainstream part of the lifecycle, while adding it to steak sandwiches places it on the introductory and growth scale.

The Technomic Lifecycle tracks flavor and ingredient penetration levels across concept categories with varying levels of innovation, from chef-driven restaurants to national chains. It dynamically projects trends for thousands of menu categories, and helps operators find the right ingredient type before they go mainstream.

Technomic’s MenuMonitor analyzes more than 7,000 commercial and noncommercial menus tracked quarterly to identify menu opportunities, including seasonal promotions, new menus and LTOs. For over 5 years, Technomic’s Lifecycle has been tracking flavors through their stages of adoption, and now proudly boasts an additional 30+ ingredient types to analyze. As a dynamic part of MenuMonitor, it can pull predictive insights on a limitless range of dishes in seconds.

Hot Healthy Trends

Whether it’s using renewable ingredients, growing efficiency or preventing food waste, the underlying theme for eight hot healthy trends of 2017 is sustainability, according to  the 2017 Healthy Trend Report from Celebrity Chef and Industry Expert Mareya Ibrahim.

2017 Healthy Trends Report Banner[3]

Speed-Scratch Cooking

Pinterest has taken food voyeurism to another level, but the reality for busy families in the kitchen is not so pinteresting.  Who’s got time for long kitchen session perfection?  Speed scratch cooking, the art of taking semi-prepared, healthy ingredients or products and creating a meal from them to save time, will reign king in 2017 as people continue to crave homemade but easier.  Not so much Betty Crocker, but more Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free all-purpose baking mix, then adding almond milk, fresh blueberries and flax meal to create pancakes, for example. Or purchasing a salad kit, with the veggies, toppings and dressings all ready to go – just add your protein and maybe cooked quinoa and voila, dinner is served. The idea is to get a home-prepared meal on the table in 20 minutes or less.

Meal kit delivery services like Hello Fresh, Plated and Blue Apron – the last of which sends about 8 million meals to homes every month according to their website – isn’t going to lose steam anytime soon, as people are in hot pursuit of nutritious, balanced dishes that take the guesswork out of preparation and utilize farm-fresh ingredients.

Meal preparation planning sites like Plan to Eat, Emeals and The Eat Cleaner Meal Prep Club which provide you recipes, a shopping list, pretty meal pictures and a healthful, balanced approach to meal planning will also take a prominent role in helping families become more time and cost efficient in 2017.  After all, grilled chicken, brown rice and broccoli is fun for a while but after meal 22, one might just desire a little variety. 

Zero Waste

A U.N. study found that about 1/3 of food worldwide (about 40 percent in the U.S.) finds its way into a landfill.  Not only is it a waste of money and natural resources, rotting food is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. When vast food supplies fill landfills while populations go hungry, it’s time 
for innovative solutions that solve both the food waste and food injustice problems. 

By identifying dead zones in the supply chain that prevent almost-expired-but-totally-fine-to-eat-food from getting to people who need it, apps such as 412 Food Rescue work with teams of volunteers to redistribute food to community kitchens. A new company called Apeel, which uses landfill-bound organic vegetable waste to create an edible film that coats fresh produce may be able to extend the life of food better than current methods such as waxes or ripening gases.

Mareya Ibrahim
Mareya Ibrahim

Other natural products such as Eat Cleaner are formulated not only to remove pesticide residue, wax and soil that can carry bacteria, it is also lab proven and patented to extend shelf life up to 200% longer.  In 2016, the company also released a new product, eatFresh-FC, in pre-portioned pouches – a blend of fruit acids and antioxidants that prevent browning on cut produce for up to 7 days.  By adding water and mixing the powder into solution, consumers can expect apples, pears, avocado and other produce items to stay fresh and delicious.

Beyond shelf life extension, retailers are getting on the bandwagon to offer ‘ugly’ fruit and veggies – produce with imperfections but still preserving taste – at a better price.  Whole Foods is working with Imperfect Produce to test sales in a sample of stores, while the east coast retailer, Giant Eagle, is offer blemished bags of edibles under the ‘Produce with Personality’ label with banner signage donning the description: “Some may say it looks weird.  We think it looks – and tastes – perfect!”

As consumers are incentivized to save money, so will efforts to mitigate food waste expand – especially as climate change continues to threaten our crop yields. Perhaps EPA administrator Gina McCarthy said it best in 2015: “Let’s feed people, not landfills.”

Drinkable Soup

Just think: juicing 2.0.  While the fresh, raw juice trend will continue to satiate consumer’s need for pure nutrition, drinkable soup will see a rise in popularity as people are looking for portable, nutrient-dense options.  This relatively new category takes the spoon (and bowl and napkin) out of enjoying fresh soup and turns it into a smooth, on-the-go meal that can be enjoyed chilled or hot. Often made with organic ingredients—fresh produce shines here with great variety that suits every dietary need.  Soups can be tomato, broth, cream or non-dairy milk based and can evolve through the seasons, packed with antioxidants and globally-inspired seasonings – like butternut squash, carrot and apple puree with thyme for fall, Thai pumpkin coconut soup with lemongrass for winter, creamy asparagus soup with chives for spring and roasted tomato and red pepper with basil for summer.

Brands like Project Juice Chef-Crafted Soups, Fawen Drinkable Soup and Tio Gazpacho Chilled Vegetable Soup are jumping on the bandwagon at grocery stores with aseptic ‘heat and eat’ packaging.  Expect to see your local juice bars and cafes to follow suit as they look for ways to expand their offerings and grow the frequency occasion of their guests.

For the home chef’s convenience, many high-powered blenders such as Vitamix can create a hot soup by letting it run for a few minutes, so no stovetop needed.  

Just push the ‘soup’s on’ button and lunch is served.

Grass-Fed Dairy

Grass-fed beef made a big splash with its promise to help consumers pick a more sustainable, cleaner source – along with a safer product according to a 2015 study conducted by Consumer Reports.  It also found that consumers are willing to pay substantially more for grass-fed, too.  Now, the trend has been passed onto its dairy by-products.  Expect to see the ‘Grass-fed’ moniker emblazoned across everything dairy-derived, from butter and ghee, to yogurt, cheese and milk to protein powder and even dietary supplements like Vital Proteins Grass Fed Collagen. Kerrygold, 4th & Heart, OMGhee, Organic Valley, Stonyfield Farms and Maple Hill Creamery have already jumped on the profitable bandwagon.  Kura Nutrition, behind a successful line of grass-fed boosted protein powders from New Zealand, is now making their way into the US.

So what does it really mean?  Earlier in 2016, the USDA withdrew its Grass (Forage) Fed Marketing Claim Standard, so there is no certification program under them for the time being.  The American Grassfed Association has put into play a certification process that requires processors and purveyors of grass-fed products to adhere to standards that require the animal to be fed only grass and forage from weaning until harvest, to be raised on pasture without confinement, to be free of antibiotics or growth hormones and to be raised only on American family farms.

While the regulation of the claim is a bit loosey-goosey and void of any standards on a national level, more and more consumers are concerned about their food choices according and how the animal is treated.  Expect to see more unity in the certification program and a standardized seal to help ensure standards across the board.

The Grass-fed crazy may just pull you off the fence and away from being a dairy-downer.


We’ve gotten used to snacking on seaweed, taking blue green algae supplements and cooking with sea salt.  Yet, the bounty of the sea is so vast, it’s hard for the average person to wrap their head around the deep blue.  Good thing there are marine life wranglers pulling up a whole new crop based on the gifts of the ocean.

For its sustainability, nutrient density, umami flavor profile and versatility, the tidal wave of sea plant popularity has directed the growth in new categories.  Research from Mintel shows that seaweed- flavored product launches, featuring kombu, nori and wakame, have seen triple digit increases over the past few years in Europe. 

From pantry staples to your beer mug, expect to sea more variety in 2017.

Kelp noodles, with their glassy, crunch consistency, are fun to eat, fat-free, gluten-free and very low in carbohydrates and calories. Toss them into salads and soups for a boost of trace minerals. Thrive, a cooking oil made from algae, claiming significantly less saturated fat than even olive oil and the highest level of monounsaturated fat. Vital Proteins offers a ‘Wild-Caught Marine Collagen anti-aging supplement to help consumers looking for an alternative to land animal collagen get their fix and get that mermaid glow.  Craft brewers are diving deep to bee to a new level, so don’t be surprised if your bartender offers you a Selkie (not to be confused with a selfie), brewed with sugar kelp. 

Next up on the sea-voyage – dried seaweed seasonings, kombu tea and dulse ice cream.

The Next “It” Veggie: Microgreens

While microgreens used to have the association of being featured as a garnish at Michelin star restaurants, this little package packs a powerful punch that will launch it onto the main stage in 2017.  Not to mention, they’re super sustainable and grow in a fraction of the time of their larger-scale cousins.

Urban Produce, based in Irvine, California, uses hydroponic technology and stacks their produce in their patented High-Density Growing System where they can pack 16 acres of plants in an acre space, controlling the light, air and resources needed with significant yields.

There are no pests, so there are no pesticides used.  They’re also using 80% less fertilizer and 90% less water than conventional agriculture, which in our neck of the California woods, is a BFD.  And it’s just good ‘ole fresh produce, so the certified organic term is a valid description of clean, real, nutritious food.

With varieties like Wasabi-Bok Choy, Kale-ifornia, a superfood blend of organic kale and amaranth, and Hot Mama, a spicy blend of white, pink, purple and red radish, there is no shortage of flavor and culinary exploration that can go into salads, wraps, onto entrées, soups and sandwiches.   Expect to see these babies pop up in your favorite restaurants, on your grocer’s shelves and in GIY (grow it yourself) kits for your windowsill.  And expect to harvest those in just about 3 weeks.

The moral of this story is, size matters and the smaller package wins.

The Next “It” Superfood: Matcha

It’s not new, but Matcha is ready for it’s debut.  Shade-grown and harvested primarily in Japan, this powerhouse of a superfood will rock your world when you discover all of its benefits, and all the ways you can enjoy it. It’s 10 times more powerful than green tea.  Plus, you’re ingesting the whole leaf, which is ground into a fine powder, so you’re getting more of the benefits.  It’ll give you an energy burst without the buzz of coffee because it’s rich in the amino acid, L-theanine.  It’s also known to help reduce stress and lower blood pressure.

Jade Monk, a line of ready-to-drink matcha teas combines coconut water and mint and honey into their varieties to balance out the ‘earthiness’ of matcha’s grassy notes.  Matcha Love Organic Stone Ground Green Tea Powder makes it easy to brew it into an iced latte or blend the powder into your smoothie bowl and combines well with fruit or milks.  You can also add matcha to boost the nutritional value of desserts, like chia seed puddings or your favorite baked goods.  Maru cha cha offers a delicate, savory cookie crisp colored and flavored with the grassy matcha.

Since it helps boost your metabolism, it’s matcha pancakes, matcha brownies and matcha macaroons for everyone!

Drink Your Vinegar

Kombucha, that SCOBY-full drink that might just give you a buzz, has seen an enormous rise in popularity despite it’s ‘acquired taste’ flavor.  So if we’ve already primed the tastebuds of America to dig sour and bitter drinks, you bet your ‘bucha that beverages made with Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) are next to explode. 

The benefits of ACV abound, including increased carbohydrate metabolism, the prevention of insulin spiking and encouraging weight loss.  Now, a new crop of ACV ready-to-drink products are boosting the health benefits and coupling them with fresh new flavors in flat and sparkling varieties.

The popularity of Kevita probiotic tonics put them on the map and just this year, earned them a couple hundred million-acquisition price tag from Pepsi. Newcomer Mr. Blackwell’s Botonics offers a sparkling organic ACV drink in a can flavored with botanicals and fruit, like Strawberry Rose, Passion Fruit Mango, and Lemon Honey Ginger.  Make your own tonic at home by adding a tablespoon of organic unfiltered ACV to 12 oz of sparkling water and add a squeeze of lime and a few drops of organic stevia. Drinking vinegar may be a bit of an acquired taste but before you know it, you’ll be sipping on your salad dressings, too.

Not So Picky Eaters

Americans are far pickier about the location of their next vacation and the type of TV they buy than about the food they eat, according to a new national survey of 1,000 men and women by market researchers OnePoll and commissioned by Orgain.

The research looked at the amount of time Americans spend making various decisions. It revealed that while they spend an average of more than 23 minutes deciding what to watch on Netflix, more than half (55 percent) choose their food almost instantly and almost a quarter (24 percent) do so without reading ingredient labels at all, uncovering opportunities to improve food choices and overall health.

The survey asked respondents to rate how much consideration they give to decisions – both large and small – and found that 31 percent of people take time to carefully consider the pros and cons of both big purchasing decisions (such as buying a car) and small ones (such as a kitchen gadget). They spend more than an hour researching their next vacation (34.2 percent), TV (49.9 percent) or phone (24.8 percent.) However, most people said they spend less than 5 minutes when deciding on a new food brand to eat (55.7 percent) and almost three quarters spend less than three minutes reading food labels or checking the ingredients of what they’re eating.

“Deciding on what food to eat may not seem as big as some other decisions we make, but what you put into your body is one of the most important choices you can make for your health, energy and wellbeing,” said Andrew Abraham MD, founder and CEO of Orgain. “This research offers interesting insight into our decision-making and shows there’s opportunity for people to take more care when reading labels, considering ingredients and being pickier about the food they eat, not only in the New Year, but all year round.”

Findings revealed that people considered decisions around finances (84.1 percent), relationships (55.5 percent), careers (58.8 percent) and even what to wear (60.5 percent) and how to decorate their homes (79.5) worthy of long consideration. Yet, when it comes to food choices, Americans don’t take the time to consider what they are eating.

The research found that when it comes to food: 

  • Fifty five percent say they pick their food almost instantly
  • Almost three out of four people spend less than three minutes reading food labels while grocery shopping
  • Just four percent say they carefully plan or think about what they’re eating
  • Two thirds said they aren’t picky about their choices when it comes to food
  • Twenty percent said they aren’t at all picky when it comes to their diet

On average, people spend the following amount of time on the below decisions, according to the survey:

  • Deciding whether we like a dating profile: two minutes
  • Reading food labels when food shopping: two minutes
  • Choosing what to watch on Netflix: 23 minutes
  • Whether to buy a pair of shoes:21 minutes
  • Choosing a new phone: one hour, one minute
  • Choosing a new car: one hour, 31 minutes
  • Choosing where to book a vacation: one hour, 32 minutes
  • Deciding what new TV to buy: one hour, 38 minutes
  • Deciding whether to put an offer on a house: one hour, 45 minutes
Holiday Spending Increase

According to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) recent Post-Holiday Shopping Survey, consumers spent an average of $711 on gifts and other holiday-related items this holiday season. This represents a 16 percent increase over 2015’s post-holiday survey results ($611) and is four percent ($27) above holiday shoppers’ intentions as measured in ICSC’s Holiday Shopping Intentions Survey in October.

Millennials use technology to enhance, not replace, the physical shopping experience.

“Consumer confidence continued to improve into December and we saw this optimism reflected in the holiday spending numbers,” said Tom McGee, President and CEO of ICSC. “The strong holiday shopping season suggests a positive environment for retail sales overall.”

In total, consumers spent an average of $897 on gifts and related items, dining, movies and other entertainment experiences at malls and shopping centers this holiday season. Gen X spent the most averaging $1,000, followed by Baby Boomers ($875) and Millennials ($867). Experiences accounted for twenty percent of total consumer holiday expenditure, with Millennials topping this spending category at $220.

More than half (51 percent) of all holiday shoppers waited until the days leading up to Christmas to complete their shopping, reinforcing the need for retailers to keep pace with technology as it continues to change purchasing habits and give consumers more options. Almost 70 percent of total holiday related expenditures occurred in stores with both a physical and an online presence. Further, the physical store proved paramount to the shopping experience again this year, with 91 percent of holiday shoppers spending at physical stores, the exact same percentage as 2015.

“The convergence of physical and digital continues to be important as consumers have come to expect an integrated experience allowing them to buy products through a variety of channels,” continued Tom McGee. “The survey data proves that omnichannel retailers are the real winners this season as they offer purchasing options that satisfy the shopping behaviors of all generations.”

Of those who bought items online from a retailer with a physical store and picked up in-store, 61 percent made an additional purchase in-person (75 percent of Millennials). In fact, 81 percent of Millennials visited a shopping center this holiday season, more than any other generation, including Baby Boomers (62 percent) and Gen X (73 percent). And while Millennials rely on technology and mobile as part of the shopping experience, either research or purchasing, 77 percent said it is important to buy online from stores that have a physical presence.

Millennials use technology to enhance, not replace, the physical shopping experience.

  • Eighty-six percent of Millennials used a mobile device while shopping in-stores and 96 percent made a purchase from those retailers. Of those who used a device while shopping in a store:
  • 52 percent compared prices
  • 40 percent checked availability/inventory
  • 37 percent got digital discounts or coupons
  • 33 percent read reviews/ratings
  • Omnichannel Retailers See the Most Success
  • When shopping online for holiday gifts and related items, consumers routinely opt to shop with retailers that have a physical location.
  • 69 percent of total expenditure was with stores with a physical presence (in-store and online)
  • 48 percent of total expenditure was online (pureplay and omnichannel retailers)
  • 25 percent of total expenditure was with pureplay online only retailers (Amazon and all others)
  • 23 percent of total expenditure was online with retailers with a physical presence (shipped home and/or click-and-collect)
  • Shoppers Take Advantage of Shopping Center Experiences
  • While 70 percent of adults visited a mall/shopping center this holiday season, they did more than purchase gifts. Of those people:
  • 73 percent shopped
  • 45 percent dined at a restaurant or other eating establishment
  • 26 percent saw a movie
  • Gift Cards Remain a Key Holiday Shopping Item
  • 63 percent of holiday shoppers purchased gift cards
  • 50 percent of holiday shoppers purchased apparel and footwear
  • 44 percent of holiday shoppers purchased toys and games
Nutrition Trends

Natural Grocers talked to a panel of the company’s category managers, nutrition experts, and editorial staff to find out what trends to expect in nutrition and health for the upcoming year. Here are their predictions for the top 10 nutrition trends for 2017 from  Jonathan Clinthorne, PhD., Manager of Scientific Affairs and Nutrition Education.

Eating Healthy Also Means Eating Ethically

Whether it is ethical eggs or humane animal husbandry, consumer interest in how their food is produced is at an all-time high. This is perhaps most evident by the passage of legislature in New Hampshire that bans the use of inhumane animal confinement methods. Even more telling, 78 percent of voters supported this law!

The Popularity of Organics Continues to Grow and Grow… and Grow

As more people, especially millennials, realize how pesticides and nutrition impact their health, they are demanding food that is healthier and more nutritious. This has translated into a robust organic industry that has experienced double-digit annual growth. 

One thing to keep in mind is that just because a grocery store sells organic, that does not mean it is committed to protecting the environment and promoting health. Look for stores that only sell organic produce, as this will reduce the risk of cross-contamination and ensure that farmers who do things the right way are being supported.

Mocktails are Booze-Free but Will Still Make You Smile

These non-alcoholic beverages are thoughtfully constructed, eye-catching, and delicious. Recipes for how to make your own mocktails are popping up all over, but we like these recipes created by Karen Falbo, Natural Foods Chef and Director of Nutrition Education at Natural Grocers.

The Spice Turmeric is Hot

Turmeric, one of the most heavily researched supplement and dietary ingredient, is showing up all over. It’s in juices and tonics, used to color macaroni, and driving herbal supplement sales. 

This powerful free radical scavenger supports a healthy inflammatory response and cognitive function—two highly important aspects of health for the American population.

Noodles Have Been Replaced by Zoodles

Nutrient-dense vegetable noodles, such as zucchini noodles (zoodles), or sweet potato noodles, can be made with a spiralizer and used to replace high-carbohydrate, nutrient poor processed grains in all your favorite dishes. Expand your horizons and add jicama, beets, daikon, and more to your diet, all in the form of noodles, in your favorite dishes. From Pad Thai to spaghetti and meatballs, these dishes are versatile and delicious. 

Minimize Food Waste

Almost half of the food in America is wasted, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Save your chicken carcass and make a soup, roast your carrots with a little balsamic vinegar, and use the tops in your salad. With a bit of planning you can make sure to use up all of the ingredients that you buy. 

Not only can reducing your food waste save the environment, it can save you money, too.

Grassfed … Everything

While organic milk and milk from cows not given recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) have been popular for some time, quality grassfed dairy takes it a step further. When cows or goats only eat grasses and other forages, as nature intended, it translates into healthier milk from healthier cows — so what’s not to love? And it’s not just dairy; grassfed meat and even dietary supplements like whey protein are now being sourced from grassfed cattle. 

Snack Attack Is Back

Snacking—especially for millennials, has become the perfect opportunity to eat healthy. This is especially important when you consider a recent demographic trend report in which 62 percent of millennials reported snacking throughout the day

Fat Phobia is Ending

With recent scientific literature showing no clear association between saturated fat and the risk of heart disease, and a society more open to embracing healthy fats, fat phobia is coming to an end. Fats from coconuts, olives, and avocados are appearing in a variety of products and full-fat dairy is also making a comeback. 

This is a positive trend as fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins E and A are frequently missing from Americans’ diets.

Easy Ways to Supplement the Diet

Most Americans will admit — their diets aren’t perfect. That’s where dietary supplements can help fill in the gap. However, while everyone wants to have a nutrient-rich diet, not everyone is ready to embrace taking pills. That’s where all the new and often less intimidating forms of dietary supplements come into play. Tasty fish oil liquid swirls, multivitamin gummies, superfood-rich smoothie mixes, and collagen powders are all easy ways to supplement the diet, providing a nutrient-dense boost to your daily routine.

Natural Health Trends

The Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA) has consulted with industry experts and released the top five natural health trends to look out for in 2017 that will help Canadians achieve their goals.

“Canadians are becoming more conscious of their healthy habits,” says Michelle W. Book, in-house holistic nutritionist at CHFA. “There’s a lot more focus now on a holistic lifestyle that begins with natural health. By identifying these latest products in natural health, we want to help Canadians navigate through their health food stores and get a jump-start on their healthy year.”

Here’s what on the radar in 2017.


Whether you purchase or germinate them yourself, people coast to coast will be adding sprouts into their diets in 2017. The nutritional benefits? Sprouted foods are low in calories and fats, but high in digestible protein, as well as essential vitamins and minerals. By allowing the seed or grain to sprout, the nutrients naturally present are released, and vitamins and minerals our bodies typically can’t access from the dried seed are activated during sprouting, allowing for better absorption.

Plant-Based Alternatives

In 2016, we saw the rise in excitement around vegan and raw menu options. With this has come a boom in plant-based alternatives to common dairy products, including yogurts, cheeses and beverages. While almond-, hemp-, soy- and coconut-based drinks remain popular, some exciting newcomers will be available at your local CHFA Member health food store in 2017, including alternatives made from flax seeds, hazelnuts and cashews. These options are super creamy yet low in calories. They’re also a great source of calcium, vitamins A, D and E, and are naturally lactose-free, with virtually no saturated fat or cholesterol.

Digestive Enzymes

What makes digestive enzymes trend-worthy is that each one has a specific purpose that aids in proper and efficient digestion. Digestive enzymes work to break down specific parts of the foods we eat, such as carbohydrates, protein and fats. This helps our bodies absorb the nutrients better and can help to reduce bloating, indigestion, and the likelihood of ulcers from acid buildup in the stomach. Because cooking and processing may destroy enzymes found naturally occurring in foods, supplementing can fill this gap. Canadians may want to speak to their healthcare practitioner to see if digestive enzyme supplements are right for them.


For a food that grows in the shadows, mushrooms are about to enjoy time in the spotlight. People will be paying attention to edible mushrooms, such as white and brown button mushrooms for their many health benefits. Both are a rich source of B-vitamins and minerals, including selenium and copper, and white button mushrooms can even help to reduce inflammation. In 2017, expect to hear more about mushroom supplements. Research suggests that maitake mushroom supplements make potent immune boosters due to their high concentration of the beneficial fibre called beta-glucan, while teas made from reishi mushrooms have also been hailed for their potent immune system effects.

Smart Carbs

It’s time to throw out the junk and choose smarter. There will be many new and exciting carb foods made from beans rich in fibre. Many of these new healthy alternatives can result in better digestion, brain function and more balanced energy. While refined carbohydrates like white breads and pastries stress your body’s system, overwhelm the digestive tract and spike insulin levels, smart carb options allow the body time to break down and absorb them. Try swapping traditional pasta with bean pasta for a great nutritional boost, and ditching the chips for crunchy bean snacks instead.

“The new year is an ideal time to start fresh and take steps to improve your wellbeing,” says Helen Long, CHFA President. “That’s why we encourage you to visit your local CHFA Member health food store in 2017, try these trends first-hand, and get on the right path when it comes to optimizing your health.”