Food Trends 2023

Top Food Trends for 2023

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Food trends for 2023. Curious whether TikTok food trends stand a chance in real life? Here’s what we learned at Expo East 2022.

As we launch this brand new food trends blog (welcome!), Lauren and I recently had the privilege of going to the Natural Products Expo East in Philadelphia. This was our first show of this type. As two registered dietitian food lovers and content creators, it was a great way to spot (and try) upcoming food trends for 2023.

Based on our experience at Expo, here are some of the upcoming trends you will want to be on the lookout for in the new year and beyond:

Adaptogenic Mushrooms

Mushrooms are definitely having their day right now. So many mushroom-infused products were represented at the show. We saw mushrooms in coffee, seltzer, chocolate, granola bars, jerky, and even as a source of protein.

Many plant-based brands use mushrooms as a source of Vitamin D3, particularly for non-dairy milk products.

While each type of mushroom may have a slightly different health benefit, their nutrient density, medicinal properties, and anti-inflammatory compounds have been well documented in research.

The adaptogenic aspect of mushrooms is especially trendy because everyone is looking for a way to help mitigate some of the effects of chronic stress. I anticipate seeing even more beverages with mushroom extracts moving forward, as people try to manage their stress and calm their cortisol.

The only downside of the mushroom trend is that many of the products taste like…mushrooms. While some may not mind their earthy flavor, for others it may be a steep hill to climb, unless the taste can be covered up with other ingredients. I can’t say that many people are super fans of mushrooms for their flavor.

But, due to the health benefits, it is definitely worth adding them to food and beverages in creative ways.

Mocktails and Non-Alcoholic Spirits

Just like the mushroom products, there were dozens of mocktail or non-alcohol spirit brands present at the Expo. Some of these were lower sugar or “healthier” mixers that could be consumed without alcohol or paired with your favorite spirit.

Other brands had unique additives, like mushrooms, herbs, CBD, or adaptogens designed to induce a feeling of calmness or relaxation. Others were meant to be used as a substitute for alcohol like tequila or gin, a non-alcoholic version of the spirit.

This is a trend that will likely not go away. Alcohol consumption is declining in the United States with younger people leading the way and staying sober. The non-alcoholic beverage market has increased by 33% in the last year and this trend is expected to continue to go up.

Non-alcoholic “wine” shops and bars are popping up all over the country. Part of this trend is that people are starting to understand the negative side effects of even moderate drinking when it comes to sleep, stress, and overall health.

Sustainability, Upcycling, and Regenerative Agriculture

Sustainability and being conscious of a brand’s environmental impact was a huge theme at Expo. With a growing focus on climate change in the media, there is no way this will be going away any time soon.

A word that I heard often from brands was “upcycled”. Basically, many brands are taking produce that would otherwise be thrown out and using it for their products. This was particularly true of brands making products out of sweet potatoes or cauliflower. (Think sweet potato “toast” or cauliflower pizza crust).

Over 1/3 of food produced in the US is wasted. While some of this happens in our homes, some food is also lost during processing, transport, or in stores due to spoilage. Trying to utilize some of this food waste in creative ways is a great way to help ensure that less food gets wasted.

Brands were also talking about regenerative agriculture or farming that is in harmony with nature. This may take different forms, but the goal is to farm in a way that maintains harmony with nature, animals, and the land without being destructive. The goal is to reduce soil erosion, protect sources of water, and improve the health of our food and the planet.

Many animal-based products are focused on regenerative and sustainable farming practices and ingredients. Definitely more to come!

Plant-based Alternatives are In

There were multiple aisles of plant-based alternatives to cheese, milk, and meat. Cheeses were made from cashews and other nuts, many were quite delicious.

Plant-based milk has moved well beyond soy and almond. Now milk can be made from oats, barley, macadamias, pecans, flax, and more. Barley milk was definitely a favorite, as it froths just like cow’s milk for use in coffee beverages. Yum!

Meat substitutes were everywhere. Options like pork-free bacon and alternatives for chicken, eggs, burgers, and other meat products were all the rage. For me, these products have to be able to pass the “husband test”. This means my husband can’t immediately identify that it is not meat. Some were pretty close!

One thing that was missing (or not wildly apparent) was cricket or other insect-based proteins. I thought this would be a bigger trend, but did not spot any of these brands at the Expo.

Cultivated meat, on the other hand, is likely to be a big next step in terms of alternative (albeit not plant-based) protein sources.

Keto is Out

A few years ago, it seemed like all we ever wrote about or talked about was the keto diet. But this trend has (finally) died down and is being replaced with simply low-carb, plant-based, or both.

While keto might be appropriate for certain people for a short period of time, for most people it is not sustainable long-term. This may be why it is fading away like so many other diet trends.

What is sustainable is limiting refined carbs (i.e. looking for lower carb/higher fiber options) and eating more plants (even if you do not completely eliminate meat).

This new trend is a more flexible and sustainable approach to a healthy diet. Brands are becoming aware of the new direction consumers are moving when it comes to eating patterns and health. Sustainability is in. Short-term gains are out.

Gummies, Shots, and Chocolate Replace Tablets

I have always hated swallowing pills and tablets, especially supplements. It is probably the number one reason I don’t really take dietary supplements.

But it was exciting to see that most brands are catching on. Many had new lines of vitamins, minerals, or herbs in gummy, “shots”, or even chocolate form. This is a trend that will definitely help me remember to take my vitamins!

But my only concern is that a lot of these taste too good. Since they are so easy to take, people might think that more is better and could be at risk of toxicity. Brands need to be careful to educate consumers about the dangers of too many tasty gummy vitamins.

Testing and Personalization

Everyone loves personalized advice. So many brands are now launching different types of tests that allow you to receive supplement recommendations based on your individual microbiome, food sensitivities, or genetics.

This helps you learn more about your own health and saves time and money. As we learn more about nutrigenomics and the microbiome, these types of services will only get more sophisticated and precise.

One caveat is that while many of these tests can provide valuable insight into your health, be wary of relying too much on the results without consulting a professional. They are not meant to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease. They can just provide a starting point for a bigger conversation with your provider.

Stress and Immunity

With the events of the last few years, it’s no surprise that people are interested in products that help them manage stress and support immunity.

Mushrooms, as we discussed are a big trend for stress management, but so are other forms of adaptogens like ashwagandha or other beneficial herbs.

Immunity support comes in a variety of forms. Vitamin “shots” are loaded with vitamin C, zinc, or antioxidants. Immunity gummies are available with beneficial ingredients like elderberry and other plant extracts.

My only concern with this category is that people will think more is better if they get sick. Taking all of the immune supplements at once is not a miracle cure and could be harmful.

Immune strength, when faced with an illness, comes from having a healthy lifestyle before you get sick. So focus on living healthy, getting enough sleep, exercising, and managing your stress before cold and flu season, so you are strong as you can be.

2023 Food Trends and Beyond

It was fun to see and learn about so many different trends all in one place at the Natural Products Expo East. In 2023, you can expect a continued focus on sustainability, plant-based eating, stress management, and immune support.

The overall trend was trying to find balance in a busy, crazy world. No one product or food is a miracle that will solve all the world’s problems. But seeing the brands present offer practical solutions to many common struggles was a wonderful step in the right direction.

Stay tuned as Lauren and I take some deep dives into the hottest food trends for 2023.