Diets which are sustainable and centred on plant foods with the occasional consumption of animal products are moving into the mass market. This is the major finding of the Nutrition Trends Report 2023 in which 170 nutrition experts from Germany were surveyed. In fact, 48 percent observed that the number of products, services, and solutions for climate-friendly and sustainable nutrition increases rapidly. Over one-third of the experts expect plant-based diets to become the 'NEW NORMAL'. Food producers recognise a great number of opportunities along these trends. In total, the Nutrition Trends Report identifies ten key trends. Is key trend 10 a surprise for you? SHARE THE TRENDS using #NutritionTrends2023
Image 1: The 10 key nutrition trends in 2023, Image 2: 10 of the 170 nutrition experts surveyed (c) NUTRITION HUB, Image 3: The future of nutrition (c) Tabea Mathern
The results of the Nutrition Trends Report 2023 show that our diet is changing for the better: healthier and more sustainable. Despite the 2022 backdrop of a war in Europe, climate change, and rising prices, big lifestyle changes are being made. Planetary and human health are simply too important to ignore.
Which developments are shaping the future of nutrition? For the fourth annual nutrition trends report, we asked 170 experts to share their observations: What are people eating? Why and how are they eating? What’s their motivation? The 2023 nutrition trends report is a flagship survey in which 10 key trends in nutrition are identified and further explored. We also evaluate the effects of war and inflation on our dietary behaviour.
Download the full report including the 10 key nutrition trends and impacts of war on nutrition:
The 10 Key Trends in Nutrition 2023
Trend 1: Climate-friendly and sustainable nutrition – an opportunity for change
The trend of sustainability and veganism has not lost momentum in 2023. Of the nutrition experts surveyed, 48 percent believe it is no longer just about avoiding meat. People are looking to buy local and seasonal produce and consumers are demanding eco-friendly business practices: transparent and short supply chains, minimal food and packaging waste. Community catering can be considered a pioneer in terms of sustainability. For companies, high-quality in-house catering is an important tool to position themselves. The trend towards sustainability, transparency, and regionality is also being set by producers: They are offering alternatives to animal products, focusing on regionality and short supply chains.
Definition: Sustainable diets are those diets with a low environmental impact which contribute to food and nutrition security and to a healthy life for present and future generations. Sustainable diets are protective and respectful of biodiversity and ecosystems, culturally acceptable, accessible, economically fair and affordable; nutritionally adequate, safe and healthy; while optimising natural and human resources (FAO, 2010)
Trend 2: Plant-based nutrition - a transition from novel to mainstream
Eating meat or fish on a daily basis has become irreconcilable with our climate, sustainability, and animal welfare goals. Even though we recognize the need to change our meat-based diets, veganism or a strict vegetarian diet can be challenging. A compromise lies somewhere in between: supply and demand for flexitarian or plant-based diets are on the rise, according to 36 percent of the experts we interviewed; “We observe that people are choosing plant-based products, but meat still has its place at special events or celebrations”, states Laura Pernetta from ETH Zurich.
Definition: Plant-based diets are dietary patterns that have a greater emphasis on foods derived from plants such as fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, pulses, nuts, seeds and oils. Plant-based diets do not completely exclude animal foods such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products, but proportionally more foods are chosen from plant sources (British Nutrition Foundation, 2023).
Trend 3: Digital Nutrition Consultation: from your laptop to your dinner table
26 percent of the surveyed nutrition experts observe an increasing demand for digital solutions providing nutrition advice. Who would have thought? These days, it is the older generations (50 to 70-year-olds) that are driving demand for online nutritional coaching and therapy services. Why is that? Simply put, online nutritional coaching and therapy is convenient and saves time. The "Best Agers" have thus become trendsetters. Their choices are influencing the development of health apps, big data, and communication in digital health. Other indispensable tools for nutrition experts include online lectures, workshops, check-ups, and consultations. Besides, COVID has turned working from home into a normality. The same goes for communicating via online platforms. These developments lower the barrier to consult a trusted nutrition therapist.
Trend 4: Convenience and healthy food "to go". Healthy or fast? Both, please!
20 percent of the nutrition experts observe that convenience and healthy takeout food supports people to maintain a healthy diet, despite busy lifestyles. Convenience and healthy food to go provides a solution to finding a balance between ideals such as mindful eating and quickly prepared dishes. Many food companies have adapted their products to those customer needs. That’s why a growing number of supermarkets are offering bowls, salads, pre-cut fruit, and soups. The queues in front of healthy fast food restaurants at airports and train stations are sometimes longer than at the neighbouring burger joint. "Ghost kitchens" (which offer food, but no seating) and casual food concepts are booming. Meal prepping, i.e., cooking healthy meals in advance for the office or home office, is enjoying a renaissance.
Trend 5: Personalised nutrition - it is addressing our individual needs
"One size fits all"? As if! 19 percent of the 170 nutrition experts as well as market developments show that personalised nutrition is on the up and up. And why is that? People aim for more flexibility in their professional and private lives. Because of this, our eating routines are as varied as our personal activity levels or workout-plan. There is simply no such thing as a single “right diet for all”. In addition, functional foods are hitting the personalised nutrition market along with digital products. Apps recommend the right foods or supplements that optimise one’s body and health.
Trend 6: Gut health - Microbiome, anyone?
Our gut health and immune system are getting more attention - this is what 19 percent of the surveyed nutrition experts observe in their daily work. Increasingly, the intestine as well as prebiotics and probiotics that affect it are perceived as important influencing factors on our health and well-being. In sports nutrition, the connection between gut health and physical performance is gaining increased attention. The microbiome and its trillions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi in our bodies that influence our digestion is eventually receiving the recognition it deserves. Consumers are actively looking for products that will support a healthy microbiome and ensure smooth digestion and gut health. With this aim in mind, fermented foods (laden with probiotics) are getting a closer look. This can be seen in the food service industry: even Michelin-star restaurants have fermentation specialists working behind the scenes.
Trend 7: Awareness of healthy nutrition improves personal wellbeing
The focus on healthy lifestyles is transforming what we eat. 15 percent of nutrition experts observe that consumers are well informed about healthy diets. The knowledge about nutrition is extremely high compared to ten years ago. Consumers are interested in superfoods and are looking for inspiration and/or motivation to lose weight or to adopt healthy diets. They are interested in intermittent fasting and healthy recipes and seek consultations for in-depth conversations, explicit answers or knowledge exchange on healthy, sustainable nutrition.
Trend 8: Mindful nutrition - Food for mindfulness
13 percent of nutrition experts surveyed observe that more consumers protect their resources through mindful nutrition. Anyone who regularly uses social media will have been inundated with posts on mindfulness. Carefully selecting ingredients, lovingly preparing dishes, taking time to enjoy meals, listening to your body to hear what makes it happy — all these aspects are part of mindful nutrition. “Many people who grew up on restrictive diets, and in cultures that glorified diets, are starting to question their eating habits, discard dysfunctional habits, and re-learn a neutral and appreciative approach to their own diet and body”, says Julia Wild from the FH Oberösterreich. Especially women are engaging in mindful nutrition as it can provide answers to problems such as body image or eating disorders and pave the way to a better self-esteem.
Trend 9: Vegan Diets - the power of plants
A Michelin star for a vegan restaurant? That was huge news once upon a time, but today, cutting out animal-based products is no longer considered a novel idea and, in fact, in 2023 it will attract more followers than ever before. This is what 13 percent of nutrition experts predict. Vegan cooking classes are fully booked and they provide hobby cooks with recipes and inspiration. Even traditional meat dishes prepared for Christmas or Easter have vegan variations. At the same time, the food industry and producers address the needs of vegan audiences. Supermarkets and discount grocers are dedicating more and more shelf space to a wide range of vegan products.
Definition: Vegan diets are based on plants such as vegetables, grains, nuts and fruits and foods made from plants. A vegan diet does not include foods that come from animals, including dairy products and eggs (NHS, 2023).
Trend 10: Sober drinking - Drinking without getting drunk
Non-alcoholic beers, wines, and spirits are gaining popularity according to 12 percent of the 170 nutrition experts surveyed. This is particularly true for younger generations, like Gen Z, but even older generations are beginning to see alcohol for what it is: an unhealthy substance. The food and beverage industry has seen a great opportunity in this development: While non-alcoholic beers have long been a real sales driver, wines without alcohol have recently gained popularity. Start-ups, research institutions, and local initiatives are looking at producing tasty alcohol substitutes by making fruit juices with hops or fermentation.
About this report: The Nutrition Trends Report was established in 2019 by Nutrition Hub. Since 2022, the German Federal Centre for Nutrition (BZfE) and Nutrition Hub are cooperating to jointly publish the report. From 14 - 31 October 2022, nutrition experts from the NUTRITION HUB and BZfE networks took part in the survey. An online questionnaire was used to answer open-ended and semi-open questions on developments in day-to-day work in the nutrition sector. The responses were weighted and evaluated according to frequency. All participating experts consented to the publication of their quotes and did not receive any compensation for the participation. 170 experts from various areas of the nutrition sector took part in the survey.
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This article is a summary of the Nutrition Trends Report 2023, which was designed and published in collaboration with the German Federal Centre for Nutrition (BZfE).
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The Project Team - from left to right: Dr. Margareta Büning-Fesel, Eva Zovko, Harald Seitz, Julia Seeher (all Federal Center for Nutrition); Dr. Simone Frey, Katharina Knoblich, Henrike Böhme, Dr. Tim Tolsdorff (all Nutrition Hub).