Sustainability concerns will color consumers’ food selections in 2017

By Elizabeth Crawford contact

- Last updated on GMT

Source: iStock
Source: iStock

Related tags: Nutrition, Food

A growing awareness of the environmental impact of food production and a desire to shop sustainably will heavily influence how consumers plan, shop for and prepare meals in the coming year, predicts a leading food influencer and national retailer. 

Chef Mareya Ibrahim, known as The Fit Foodie, notes in a recent blog post that “there’s never been a more innovative and exciting time in the world for clean food and a healthy environment”​ as now – a trend she says will grow in 2017.

She points to consumers’ growing interest in reducing food waste and entrepreneurs’ “innovative solutions that solve both food waste and food ingredient problems.”

For example, she credits 412 Food Rescue and Imperfect Produce with ensuring food that is “totally fine to eat” ​but on the verge of expiration or too “ugly”​ for mainstream grocers to stock with redistributing the food to those in need or who are less picky for free or at a lower price than they’d pay for perfect produce or food with a longer shelf life.  (Learn more about the ugly fruit and vegetable movement HERE​.)

She also lauds efforts by eatCleaner for inventing a wash to remove pesticide residue and extend the shelf life of food up to 200%, and for creating eatFresh-FC – a pre-portioned powder blend of fruit acids and antioxidants to prevent fresh produce from browning for up to seven days.

The company Apeel also earns her praise for using landfill-bound organic vegetable waste to create an edible film to go on produce to extend its shelf life.

Specialty retailer Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage echoes these predictions for 2017, adding in a Jan. 3 release that almost half of the food in America is wasted, but with careful meal planning consumers “can make sure to use up all of the ingredients that [they] buy.”

Natural Grocers connects food waste reduction and sustainability concerns to the double-digit annual growth of the organic industry.

The retailer attributed this aspect to consumer concern about the negative impact of pesticides not only in their food but also on their planet.

Seafood, grass-fed and microgreens grow on sustainability

Other trends Ibrahim predicts will take off in 2017 as an outgrowth of consumer interest in more sustainable food supply and management is an uptick in seafood consumption, grass-fed claims and microgreens.

She explained on her blog: “For its sustainably, nutrient density, umami flavor profile and versatility, the tidal wave of sea plant popularity has directed the growth in new categories,”​ including seaweed-flavored products, which Mintel says have tripled in Europe in the past few years.

Products to watch, according to Ibrahim, include dried seaweed seasoning, kombu tea, dulse ice cream, algae-based cooking oil from Thrive and kelp noodles.

Microgreens also are ready to “hit the mainstage in 2017,”​ as a superfood that when grown hydroponically use 80% less fertilizer and 90% less water than conventionally grown greens, Ibrahim says.

Finally, grass-fed claims will move across categories​ as more consumers hear the marketing message that grass-fed animals are more sustainable and cleaner, Ibrahim and Natural Grocers predict.

Up until recently, the claim has mainly been associated with meat, but grass-fed dairy, including milk, yogurt, butter and cheese, are gaining traction along with grass-fed dietary supplements, they note. 

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