Nutrition in 2022 & beyond: Sustainable, plant-based and digital...

The COVID-19 pandemic; the climate emergency; endless conflicts: it can seem like society just swings from one crisis to another on this increasingly polarized, ever-so-precious planet of ours. Thankfully good nutrition news is never far away and while not immune to these shifts, our 2022 Nutrition Trends Report highlights 10 micro and macro shifts for a better planet – and a healthier you.

Image 1: The 10 most important nutrition trends in 2022, Image 2: 10 of the 107 nutrition experts surveyed (c) NUTRITION HUB, Image 3: The future of nutrition (c) Tabea Mathern


Food has always been a massive part of human culture, with expanding nutritional knowledge a more modern but potent lever to inform healthier and more sustainable food choices for a greater number of individuals across the socioeconomic spectrum.

How will people fill their plates in the coming years? To find out Nutrition Hub joined with the German Ministry of Food and Agriculture’s Federal Centre for Nutrition to survey 100+ leading nutrition professionals on their vision for nutrition in the coming decade. The result is our 2022 Nutrition Trends Report which reveals what, why, and how people will be eating – and what moves them when it comes to food.

The good news: compared to recent years, more people pay attention to their diet for a multitude of reasons; the nutritional future is bright!


The 10 nutrition trends in 2022


1. Eating with purpose: Climate-friendly and sustainable nutrition

© Tabea Mathern

Climate-friendly nutrition focuses on diets that minimize environmental impact while still delivering on health. The scale of the climate problem is revealed in surveys showing people often rate regionality and sustainability above health when selecting foods. Vegetarian and vegan recipes are gaining popularity, while people more fervently question the provenance of ingredients and cooking techniques. Communal catering is another area undergoing a sustainability-led rethink, with guidelines being formulated in many German states or at the federal level.

In 2021 Berlin pioneered mandates that meant 50% of food offered at primary schools must be organic. Cafeterias and canteens are also transforming their menus by buying more seasonal and regional produce, adding more plant-based dishes to the menu, and focusing more on creative cooking. All of which positively affect carbon footprints.

2. Flora instead of fauna: vegan and plant-based nutrition

© Tabea Mathern

The momentum away from meat and toward plant-based foods and diets continues to gather pace. Many parents want to feed their children a vegetarian or vegan diet and look for reliable information from experts, especially about implementing these kinds of diets. "Parents want to be sure that they provide their children with sufficient essential nutrients and avoid possible deficiencies," explains nutritionist Verena Dickson, founder of KinderNutrition. Mostly it is parents of Generations Y and Z who consciously look for plant-based and nutrient-rich products. Gastronomers are also innovating in catering to offer more vegan and biodiverse dishes.

3. The rise of digital nutrition

© Tabea Mathern

The Corona pandemic has seen more people embrace digital solutions – and accelerated the already fast-growing field of digital nutrition therapy. Numerous professionals use apps when working with their clients, for instance, to record nutritional profiles. Digital solutions simplify access to certified services offered by nutrition professionals and allow uncomplicated, close-knit care. Both patients and healthcare and nutrition professionals show an increasing openness to digital treatment options.




4. Finding pleasure in mindful nutrition

© Tabea Mathern

Many people today want to eat more nutritiously to be healthier and perform better in everyday life. They reflect on their lifestyle and recognize the influence of diet on their health, although there is a gendered element to this. Women, in particular, see the link between nutrition and health, while men, especially from middle age onwards, find this more difficult. Mindfulness and pleasure are also important factors. People want to eat healthily, but pleasurably and without prohibitions. One of these concepts is called ‘Health At Every Size (HAES)®️', this kind of mindfulness is based on three pillars: self-acceptance, intuitive nutrition, and physical exercise for pleasure. HAES®️ is also gaining importance in nutrition therapy: many adults want to ‘heal’ their relationship with food and are shunning diets in favor of healthier behaviors.

5. Personalized nutrition pushes into the mainstream

© Tabea Mathern

Tailor-made diets adapted to each individual’s particular physiology – sounds like science fiction? Well, what has long been on offer to professional sportspeople is now available to anyone via an ever-growing array of personalized nutrition services, often benefitting from the work of research institutes like Baden-Württemberg Dual University that dive deep into areas like artificial intelligence, big data, and body sensor enhancement. "It is becoming more and more normal to monitor one's body, whether with blood sugar sensors in the arm or with the help of a smart drinking bottle," says nutritionist and food technologist Fabian Schlang. One thing is clear: for personalized nutrition to work, data, products, and services from the food industry, health, technology, and science must be interlinked. It’s clearly happening because the market is growing with innovative businesses emerging.

6. Fast food gets faster – and healthier

Food-to-go has experienced strong demand due to COVID-19. "We all want to eat quickly, conveniently, and without effort. After all, even in a home office, life is hectic and schedules are crammed," says professor Nanette Ströbele-Benschop from the Institute of Nutritional Medicine at the University of Hohenheim. In out-of-home eating, sustainability, health, and enjoyment become increasingly important. "As consumers pay attention to critical ingredients, we already observe that these products are being optimized," says food journalist Dagmar von Cramm. Going forward the delivery industry is likely to focus on the health-oriented – who also tend to be more affluent.

7. Psychobiotics enhance the gut-brain axis

The 2022 Nutrition Trends Report experts agree gut health and probiotics will grow in importance in the coming years. Digestive problems are no longer a taboo topic and gut health awareness is rapidly evolving. As research builds affirming the link between the gut bacterial ecosystem (microbiota) and cognitive health – the so-called gut-brain axis – probiotic companies are bringing ‘psychobiotics’ to the public, often backed by nutritionists and other healthcare professionals.

8. Fighting nutritional fake news

With the knowledge gained from the internet and social media, many people get increasingly lost in details regarding their nutrition and lose sight of the essentials. However, nutrition professionals also observe an increasing demand for reliable nutrition information amid the seas of online nutrition myths. People are increasingly savvy to clumsy influencer marketing. This, says Jan Rein, Head of Content & Communications at KoRo, is one of the reasons why the big nutrition brands increasingly serve as knowledge mediators and become serious drivers of nutrition education via blogs and social media.

9. Working better nutrition into the workplace

"Companies are becoming more aware that they can increase their own attractiveness for potential applicants and employees through workplace health promotion or WHP," says Katharina Kühtreiber, dietitian and owner of the nutrition consultancy Female Food Freedom. This awareness increasingly involves the topic of plant-based protein sources. WHP experts have to answer typical employee queries such as: Which plant-based alternative protein sources are recommended? Do you really have to eat meat and fish to eat healthily?

10. Good nutrition starts young

Nutrition education in kindergartens and schools has gained importance during the pandemic. With all-day care in nurseries and schools, catering options come under greater scrutiny, especially given their importance in influencing nutritional preferences into adulthood. A growing number of authorities, organizations, and facility providers are aware of this – while the federal government supports nutrition education initiatives in kindergarten and at school. Nutrition apps and digital offerings are supporting this approach.

 
16 of the 107 interviewed nutrition experts

Data collection: Between 27 October and 12 November 2021, nutrition experts from the NUTRITION HUB and the BZfE networks participated in the survey for the 2022 Nutrition Trends Report. By way of an online questionnaire, participants could respond to open and semi-open questions regarding developments in the nutrition sector that they come across in their daily work. The answers were weighted according to frequency and were then evaluated. All participating experts agreed to the publication of their quotes. 107 experts from a wide range of areas in the food sector took part in the survey.


 

As the surveys for the 2022 Nutrition Trends Report were conducted in German the whole version of the report is written in German only. If you have any questions about the report we are happy to provide you with more information. Get in touch: hello@nutrition-hub.com.

 
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This article is a summary of the 2022 Nutrition Trends Report, which was conceived and produced in cooperation with the German Federal Centre for Nutrition (BZfE).

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The article was translated by Bundesanstalt für Landwirtschaft und Ernährung and was edited Shane Starling.

Journalist and Editor: Shane Starling