7 Food Trends Spotted at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ 2018 Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo #FNCE
I just returned from Washington, DC to attend the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE). It was a particularly good conference, full of great presentations on some of...

I just returned from Washington, DC to attend the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE). It was a particularly good conference, full of great presentations on some of today's hottest nutrition topics, including discussions on intermittent fasting vs. calorie restrictions and weight management vs. health at all. sizes (which rejects weight as a measure of success) - which I'll cover in a future post. I also enjoyed the sessions focused on nutrition communications, including a terrific food porn panel and a session I hosted on the mastering video - with a trio of dynamite RDNs: Ellie Krieger, Regan Miller Jones and Manuel Villacorta.

Once again, the exhibition floor was filled with new products from a range of exhibitors, including large CPG companies and smaller brands in the natural / organic arena. Here are seven of the top food trends I've spotted:

Digestive well-being and intestinal foods

Gut health was a mega trend at FNCE, as evidenced by the Healthy Gut pavilion at the show. Exhibitors showcased a range of products - probiotics in many forms (including beyond dairy), gluten-free items and foods low in FODMAP, an acronym for Fermentable Oligoaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols - Carbohydrates short chain and sugar alcohols which can be poorly absorbed and trigger IBS and other digestive discomforts in some people. Foods low in FODMAP have been all the rage for some time, but expect this category to get even bigger. Some of the brands included Fody, Fodmapped, Rachel Paul's Foods and Lo-Fo Pantry, the first line of low FODMAP flours and baking mixes. Even Prego has released a low-FODMAP pasta sauce. Because this trend is getting so big, there are now programs that will certify foods as low in FODMAP. Two of those programs were at the show: Monash University and the FODMAP Friendly Certification Program.

Probiotics were emerging in many foods - going beyond yogurt in products like Good Belly's herbal drinks and drinks with live active cultures. Kellogg's has launched an exciting new whole grain cereal called Hi! Happy Inside which contains prebiotics, probiotics and fiber - which they described as the "power of 3 in 1" to support digestive well-being.

Not only was gut food popular on the show floor, but a startup called Day two promoted a test that registered dietitians can use to assess a client's gut microbiome for personalized nutritional advice.


Crash Freezer Instagram Trends Case

I loved how Vegolutionary Foods jumped on two big food trends on Instagram to make them readily available in your freezer. Their CHOUPÉ Cauliflower pizzas and pizza crusts have been out for a while - I especially liked the un-dried turkey pepperoni pizza. Their latest product is Sweet PotaTOAS, slices of frozen roasted sweet potatoes that you just put in the oven or in the toaster and garnish with nut butters, avocado, nutella and more. You may have seen how #sweetpotatotoast has taken over Instagram - with over 21,000+ posts. What a trick to make this trend perfect as a convenience item (just one ingredient: roasted sweet potato). This company is another example of a brand led by a founder. It was created by Gail Becker, who said that CAULIPOWER was born out of Pinterest failure. She wanted to find a nutritious gluten-free pizza crust that tasted really good for her two boys with celiac disease.

Processing of vegetables and fruits

Vegetables weren't just made into toast and pizza crusts, they appeared in unexpected places and in a variety of forms - from pastas and burgers to bars and drinks. The fruit was often presented as fresh, but it was also packaged in a variety of ways for a convenient snack, including dried and dehydrated. I liked these carrot sticks from Rhythm Superfoods, which also sampled beet and kale crisps. Seneca featured apples grown in the United States that were dehydrated into crisps.

Protein Get Portable

Now that snacks are half of all eating occasions, businesses are clamoring for new snack options. Protein continues to be one of the main attributes of snacks - often with a call for grams per serving. I really liked these hard-boiled egg snacks from Eggland's Best. Below is the egg, olive and feta variety, but there are three additional flavors: egg, salame and provolone; egg, chocolate coated almonds and cheddar cheese; and egg, bacon and cheddar.

Veggicopia sampled shelf-stable dip cups including hummus and black bean dip.

A company called Vegetarian traveler introduced Protein Toppers - portable sachets of long-life vegetable protein to add to salads, vegetable side dishes, stir-fries, oatmeal and other dishes for a protein boost. This was just one of many examples of the evolution of beans / pulses. The roasted bean mixes included chickpeas, soybeans and peas.

Nuts and seeds were soaring

Nuts and seeds were displayed throughout the showroom - in the form of nut and seed butters, nut powders and oils, nut and seed milks and a variety of snacks. Sunflower seed butter was featured at several booths and promoted “nut free” to attract people with nut allergies. New products include sesame milk and barukas, a nut hitherto unknown in the United States that originates from the Amazon savannah.


Old school brands are reinventing themselves

While there were plenty of small niche brands at the expo touting innovative new products, many of the large CPG companies that exhibited at FNCE for many years improved their game. Quaker Oats gave us a preview of a new oatmeal drink coming out in January. This is a dairy alternative that is formulated with oat bran, so it is eligible for the FDA's heart health claim (which sets it apart from oat milks from its competitors). The new drink is a good source of fiber and a great source of calcium and vitamin D. I really like Campbell's new Well Yes! sipping soup - in trendy flavors like Harvest Carrot & Ginger and Butternut Squash & Sweet Patato. It's a great way to eat more vegetables for a snack. Starkist introduced ready-to-eat sachets of tuna and salmon, as well as their latest line of chicken creations: Bold Buffalo Style, Ginger Soy, Zesty Lemon Pepper and Chicken Salad. Really tasty whole grain cups sampled in 1 minute and microwave ready in 1 minute.

Goal-oriented brands

Many brands were elevating a mission and showing how they give back, including The SoulFull Project. These innovative oatmeal and other hot cereal makers contribute to a local food bank for every product sold. The company is a B certified company committed to using business as a force for good.

Some additional trends

Bean cooking. Healthy indulgence (chocolate). Fiber. Free of. Suitable for allergies. Turmeric. Paleo / Keto / Whole30. E-commerce (sold only on Amazon). Food-tech (DNA test for personalized nutrition from Nutrigenomix; gut microbiome test and rejuvenation based on Prolon stem cells).

Here's what others are writing about FNCE 2018 Trends. I will report and link to other articles I find, or provide feedback.

Food and Health Communications: FNCE 2018 - 5 essential trends and takeaways

Food Navigator: Trendspotting at FNCE

Chew the facts: Food trends: the future of food nutrients to drink?


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