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7 Healthy Food Trends You Need to Know About

October 26th, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

Are you a small business owner in the restaurant or food industry? Then you need to know about 7 healthy food trends that will affect your business in the coming year. The New Healthful, a “Culinary Trend Report” from Packaged Facts, says consumers are redefining healthful to a more positive focus on the presence of beneficial nutrients and rather than the absence of harmful ones. Here are 7 growing trends:

1. Extraordinary Tap Water: Packaged Facts says we’re entering “a new era of customized and personalized, healthful beverages” all based on high-quality tap water. Consumers are cutting back on high-calorie, carbonated soft drinks, and focusing more on local, artisan crafted beverages. While this is still mostly occurring at upscale restaurants, there’s lots of room for home products to allow customizing your own drinks.

2. Heirloom Whole-Grain Bread: With artisan breads now in the mainstream at fast-food chains, the next wave is whole-grain bread featuring locally sourced, heirloom grains. Still primarily in higher-end restaurants, this trend taps into the desire for better nutrition as well as the local food movement.

3. Beans and Greens for Breakfast: There’s new interest in vegetables and beans for breakfast, as consumers look to replace sugary, starchy breakfast foods. More than just a few tomatoes in an omelet, this trend is putting main dishes featuring vegetables, beans and quinoa in the spotlight; some places are even serving up breakfast salads. So far, this trend is limited to higher-end eateries, suggesting room for growth in the more mainstream arena.

4. Healthful Vending: More and more consumers are looking for healthy alternatives in vending machines at school, work, gyms, sports arenas, airports and hotels, and companies are answering the call by developing nutritious foods specifically for vending. Oatmeal kits, grab-and-go tuna, fresh-cut fruit and vegetables with dips, and organic bowl salads are just a few of the new vending options, but the field is in the early stages and still wide open.

5. Vegan on the Menu: Veganism is attracting consumers who’ve heard about its role in preventing health problems and losing weight. New vegans are seeking more choices on vegan menus, and the addition of vegan options to mainstream restaurant menus. While vegan items are now starting to show up in mainstream chain restaurants, there’s still lots of room for growth in vegan-centric options in both foodservice and retail.

6.  Chef-Inspired Healthful Kid Fare: America’s childhood obesity epidemic is still getting lots of attention, and the newest solutions focus on chef-prepared and culinary-inspired meals that taste so good, they get kids excited about healthful foods. Healthy kids’ foods are showing up on restaurant menus, in school lunches and in packaged foods, and being spotlighted in mainstream publications.

7.  Veggie Burger Renaissance: The “gourmet burger” trend of the last few years is now expanding to the veggie burger. With more diners going meatless for health or moral reasons, better-tasting veggie burgers on menus and store shelves are another area with room to grow. This trend is already hitting quick-service restaurants and grocery store shelves.

Image by Flickr user Identity Photography (Creative Commons)

The views expressed here are the author's alone and not those of Network Solutions or its partners.

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