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Expert Perspectives

Food Trends of 2023

By Leslie Beck, RD, Medcan Director of Food and Nutrition

What are trend watchers forecasting for the new year? Our Eat expert breaks down what to expect.

This year health and wellness will continue to influence our food choices and eating habits. Sustainability, too, will drive consumer food decisions in 2023 and guide innovation by farmers and food manufacturers. And with record food inflation, budget-friendly eating will continue to be top-of-mind for many people.    

For episode 149 of Medcan’s Eat Move Think podcast I sat down with Jo-Ann McArthur, president of Nourish Food Marketing and author of the company’s 2023 Trend Report, to discuss what’s in store for us this year. According to her team’s research, here’s what to expect in terms of continuing and emerging food trends for the upcoming year. 

The rise of “reducatarianism” 

Our appetite for plant-based foods will continue to grow in 2023. For many consumers, though, that’s doesn’t mean adopting a vegan diet. “Reducatarianism,” McArthur explains, “is about reducing meat intake rather than cutting it totally out.” According to global data outlined in the 2023 Trend Report, from March 2021 to April 2022 fewer consumers reported eating a meat-centred diet while a growing number considered themselves omnivores or flexitarians (i.e., one who eats mostly a plant-based diet but occasionally eats meat). A diet that mixes plant proteins and animal proteins is easier on our food budget and better for personal and planetary health.  

McArthur also anticipates a growing consumer call for cleaner labels on plant-based products. “When ‘faux meats’ like the Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat came out, everybody kind of parked their concerns surrounding ultra-processed food for a while,” she says of her report’s findings. “I think that consumers are starting to look at these faux meats,” she says, in connection to the “dangers of ultra-processed foods.” With shrinking sales of meat alternatives, the industry will need to address the demand for products with fewer and recognizable ingredients. Expect to see more products made with whole food ingredients such as beans, lentils, tempeh, and even seaweed.  

 

Thinking of eating more plants and less meat? The following tips can help.  

  • Shift the focus of your plate. Fill three-quarters of your plate with foods like whole grains, vegetables, fruit and beans. Increasing the proportion of plant foods at meals means you’ll be cutting back on animal foods. 
  • Think of meat as a condiment rather than the focus of your meal. Enjoy small portions of meat in a stir-fry or use half the amount called for in chilis, casseroles and stews, for example. 
  • Set a goal to increase the number of plant-based meals you eat each week, be it breakfast, lunch or dinner. 

Opportunity for “female” foods 

Last year, functional foods and products geared towards healthy aging trended aka boomer-specific foods) and they will continue to do so. The 2023 Trend Report identified an emerging trend to watch for this year: foods for female health.  

Historically,” McArthur says, “there hasn’t been a lot of medical research around women—but we’re starting to catch up with that,” thanks to researchers finally acknowledging that male and female bodies are fundamentally different. She estimates a nine-fold increase in published research studies on women’s health between 2010 and 2020, “and that’s going to unlock a lot of opportunity” for new products. 

Moodygirl Chocolate is one such product that’s jumped in to fill this niche. The company, which creates adaptogenic chocolate, started out by offering a chocolate bar high in magnesium and vitamin B6 to help ease PMS symptoms. (Adaptogens are herbs or mushrooms that help the body respond to stress, anxiety and fatigue.) “Areas like menstruation, lactation and menopause—these have always been kind of taboo subjects in our culture,” McArthur says. But now the younger generations are turning the social tide when it comes to female health topics. In a market saturated with customized, personalized food products—McArthur points to gluten-free, vegan, and keto as a few examples—the time is right for female-focused foods to make an appearance. 

Good eats, better sleeps 

The 2023 Trend Report predicts an emergence of food products as sleep aids to promote overall well-being. A recent McKinsey study revealed that achieving better sleep was the second highest priority for consumers after better health, with 45 per cent of respondents ranking better sleep as a “very high priority”. The link between sleep and health is well recognized. Getting too little sleep has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, obesity and depression. It’s also known that the foods you eat can impact the quantity and quality of your sleep.  

Similar to the void in the female foods market, McArthur and her team have identified an opening for foods and beverages that can help improve our sleep. “I think the dairy industry has a real opportunity here to call out the role of milk and dairy” in getting a good night’s sleep. She also adds that we’re starting to see products containing magnesium and melatonin, both proven sleep aids, and wonders if we may start seeing CBD playing a bigger role in helping us wind down for the night. 

From trend to lifestyle change 

If your health goals this year include optimizing your diet and nutritional intake, start by making small changes that are easier to integrate and easier to maintain over the long-term. If you’re looking for support, Medcan’s nutrition team offers a range of personalized programs to help you live well, for life.  

To arrange a nutrition consultation with a Medcan registered dietitian, email nutrition@medcan.com 

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