From Flexitarians to the organic malaise to the grain-olution, there’s a lot to chew on for 2020. Here’s what we’re predicting:
The Rise of the Flexitarian
Two interesting things collided in 2019:
- Plant-based meats hit the mainstream in a big-press sort of way, and
- The multi-year meat-based diet craze has begun to show signs of running its course.
The idea of Flexitarianism—eating a mostly vegetarian diet with some meat or fish thrown in now and again—has been growing in popularity, especially as people reduce their meat consumption for both health and environmental reasons. Look for this balanced approach to food consumption to accelerate in 2020.
More Real food
Going along with the rise of popular whole food diets, we anticipate an increased consciousness around eating more minimally or unprocessed foods … except for that Impossible Burger, bottle of kombucha, or craft beer :). The theme of “less is more” will ring true in 2020.
2020 will be a big year for grains. Not as much wheat (though look for some heirloom wheats to start make a ripple), but all those other ancient grains that have been slowly making guest appearances in snack foods and side dishes—teff, amaranth, kamut, more varieties of quinoa, barley, bulgar and more! Packed with an insane amount of nutrition, the low-carb diet graze will start give way to super nutritional carbs.
That’s malaise, not mayonnaise (although yum!). In our field research this year, we often heard a general skepticism and fatigue around the idea of organic. It’s not to say organic practices are unappealing, but because organic hasn’t been consistently defined and promoted to the end consumer, people don’t know what it means or why it matters.
At the same time, regenerative, non-GMO, pesticide-free, and “local” are much more tangible and exciting for consumers. This isn’t to say that organic isn’t still important, but its power as a blanket claim has lost its luster.
With so much industry talk about regenerative agriculture, it’s almost hitting an inflection point, like organic did five to ten years ago. Is 2020 really the moment when we’ll see momentum and shifts in production and sourcing? Probably not. Infrastructure changes take time, but expect regenerative ag to continue to be an industry conversation—one that will likely permeate consumer consciousness in 2020.
And in these early days of talking and trying to make regenerative ag a thing, you’ll see something that often happens as movements pick up speed: a lot of BS. Watch out for empty claims about regenerative ag; “dirtwashing” might become the next greenwashing.