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  • Natalie Rouse

Top Food Trends - The Super Seven

In this article Natalie Rouse, Markets and Technologies Researcher at Future Foods shares with us her thoughts on current food trends and explores 7 keys areas which she believes will continue to grow.

Natalie is a registered and accredited Nutritionist, Nutritional Consultant and Nutritional Research Scientist. A person who is enthusiastic and passionate about nutrition and nutritional applications. Natalie qualified as a Nutritionist in 2008 but has worked in nutritional intervention, exercise prescription and personal training since 2003. Natalie’s expertise is nutrient composition and formulation working as a research nutritionist for international brands such as Huel, Fuel10k and CNP professional.

Natalie also has a very keen interest in nutritional biochemistry for optimal health, disease management and performance nutrition, with a wealth of experience working within multiple populations, ages and demographics including, The MS society, Diabetes UK, UK special forces, RAF, Worcester Valkyries rugby team and Paralympic GB athletes.

1. Vegan protein sources

The increased consumption of plant-based protein powders has seen large scale production and marketing of a variety of products in the market that can lead to consumer confusion. This has been spotted by European protein giants MyProtein, and vegan complete nutrition brand leader Huel, with pre-blended ready-to-drink formulations of plant-based protein recently entering the UK, USA and European markets with great uptake.

With soy, pea, rice and hemp protein already widely used and available, I see an opening in the market for new powders such as the Sacha Inchi that is native to Peru, commonly called the Sacha peanut or jungle nut . Sacha Inchi boasts an impressive 80% protein content (dried powder) providing a subtle nutty flavour lending itself to complement many existing beverages and meals. The protein within Sacha Inchi is reported to be one of the most highly digestible and low-allergen proteins suitable for all ages. Sacha Inchi is also high in the essential fatty acid omega 3, and the highest percentage of unsaturated fatty acids out of all other plant-based proteins. Sacha Inchi improves the ratio of LDL: HDL cholesterol, attributed to improved heart health and anti-inflammatory. The oil that is extracted can be used as a component for salad dressing or as a drizzle over pasta dishes minimising waste.

The EU have received a novel food application for Sacha Inchi protein powder, leaf, seeds and stem. The location and potential environmental impact are the negatives surrounding the source; however, it is recognised in other parts of the world as a sustainable crop with viable commercial applications.

2. Cannabinoids (CBD) and hemp products

CBD and hemp-based ingredients are continuing to go from strength to strength since navigating the EFSA novel foods approval. This is due to the combination of the health benefits reported; offering mental and physical health benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties, anxiety reduction and high abundance of antioxidants.

I project an increase in the use of CBD from many forms including infusions, emulsions and extracts added to consumables. Due to CBD’s stability at high temperatures the use can be broad.

CBD and hemp are still viewed as being slightly taboo or rebellious although the CBD and hemp extract in foods are non-psychoactive the lure of the health benefits and intrigue will continue to see the compound fly throughout 2021.

3. Algae

Once viewed as a mal-tasting green slime this versatile water flora has massive potential, with broad uses across all food, beverage and nutraceutical sectors.

Global demand for macroalgal and microalgal foods is growing, and algae are increasingly being consumed for functional benefits beyond the traditional considerations of nutrition and health. There is substantial evidence for the health benefits of algal-derived food products and the sector is growing with great investment surrounding algae science for human foods and animal feeds.

4. Oat milk

Plant based milk alternatives will continue to gain popularity for their low fat, high phytonutrient. Whilst soy and almond milks have been the main plant-based milk during the past few years, oat milk now appears to be the alternative of choice and popping up on the menu in a range of large chain coffee shops and supermarkets. Oat milk also blends well lending itself to be an easy substitute to cow’s milk and presents a more attractive carbon footprint and environmental lifecycle assessment (LCA) to livestock milk, soya, almond and rice milks.

Oat milk adds a creamy texture to drinks, yet is still low fat and low sugar, low allergen and high in beta glucans. A 250ml serving of oat milk provides 1g beta glucans aiding digestive, cellular and heart health.

Oats are and have been in large circulation and attributed to many health promoting properties, many of which have been widely researched over long-term studies removing any speculation associated with long term use other.

Not so much a food trend, but a trend that will continue to grow, with significant interest from food and drink companies to utilise the abundance of oats in Wales.

5. Natural remedies

With increasing sales of books on recipes for natural remedies, tonics and tinctures I predict home health tonics to be a new trend. This is due to consumers wanting to revive natural, less harsh ways to manage ailments, to know what they are consuming and their origin. The ancient practise of home remedies is supported by the availability and variety of affordable herbs & spices in supermarkets, health food shops and online retailers; especially turmeric, ginseng, gingko biloba, matcha tea and ginger.

I predict this trend to be an empowering and nostalgic pastime adopted by those from a broad range of demographics and utilising the skills of yester year with the botanical knowledge of today. In addition, an opportunity to source or grow local botanicals for the industry.

6. Low carb

The low carb lifestyle is morphing, and the resurgence of the dietary model is making a great come back but not in the traditional form. The health effects of low sugar intakes are undisputed, but with tempting treats lurking everywhere there is an emerging sector of low sugar and low carb treats that aid adherence whilst enjoying a permissible snack.

For a growing number of consumers low carb adoption is just the beginning and often seek to enter into ketogenesis where there is such a low intake of carbohydrates that the body must convert amino acids and fats into ketones. Loyal keto-followers attribute the diet to improved energy, mental clarity and fat loss. With the keto movement comes a range of keto friendly snacks and an ever-increasing range of keto supplements, namely keto esters and keto salts speeding up the bodies adoption of using ketones for energy.

7. Collagen

Collagen is the most common protein found in the human body, tendons, fats, ligaments, cells and skin. The body’s ability to produce collagen decreases as we age resulting in the loss of skin elasticity, bone & joint pain, and reduction of cell strength. Collagen stimulates more collagen and thus increases collagen in the body creating a healthier appearance and protection of the body’s joints, but when its production slows the deterioration can be quite rapid, impacting day-to-day activities.

Consuming foods that are high in collagen, and supplements containing nutrients to support collagen production are set to be a huge trend to slow the decline and thus slow the visual and physical signs of aging.


Through the Future Foods programme, Natalie is working with a range of Food and Drink businesses in Wales to explore new functional ingredients, develop new innovative products and to scope opportunities within emerging trends. If you are a food and drink business based in West Wales and the Valleys* looking to explore any of the areas mentioned in this article, get in touch with us to explore the support which may be available.

Future Foods is a collaborative programme which enables food and drink companies in Wales to improve their competitiveness and underpin future growth and sustainability.

*Eligibility criteria applies. Available to commercial Food and Drink producers based in West Wales and the Valleys.

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