First it was “low” and “free” foods. Then came the desire for “better-for-you.” Today’s approach to healthful dining has staying power for the long term—it’s all about taking an individualized, holistic approach to wellness through naturally nourishing ingredients. The interplay between flavor, nutrition and the potential functional benefits of foods has captured the attention of consumers across segments. They’re considering how the foods and beverages they consume affect all areas of well-being, from physical to mental and emotional. Unsurprisingly, callouts like “cholesterol free” and “low fat” are in double-digit decline on restaurant menus while positive nutrition attributes—such as protein, probiotics and immunity support—are getting a boost.1
That’s not to say that flavor is taking a backseat to health. Classic comfort foods with a functional advantage are great for drawing in guests who may want to experiment with the trend. According to Datassential, 48% of consumers say that they want immunity-boosting ingredients in everything they eat, including burgers, burritos, pastas and pizza!2 Dishes like seared scallops with elderberry sauce; pork tacos on hibiscus tortillas; or roasted garlic and maitake ramen demonstrate the range of creative culinary applications for functional ingredients, beyond traditional teas, smoothies and elixirs. We expect to see even more innovation as consumers seek out simple ways to adjust their eating habits to optimize personal health.
growth of menu mentions for the term "superfood" since 2016.3
growth of turmeric on restaurant menus over the past four years.4
of consumers say they like or love garlic.5
#healingwithfood serves as an online repository for consumer-driven tips, tricks and possible wellness benefits for a wide range of ingredients. Interestingly, this hashtag is associated with text-driven informative posts rather than photos, making it stand out among the typical Instagram food news feed.5
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Baum + Whiteman “2021 Food & Beverage Report,” November 2020.
Katie Ayoub, “Immunity on the Menu,” Flavor & The Menu, January 26, 2021.
Phil Lempert, “Food Trends Forecast 2021: Being Healthy In A Post Covid-19 World,” Forbes, October 19, 2020.