Every year brings a host of new food trends with it, from cronuts and monster milkshakes to gluten-free fads, but this year looks set to focus on something a little more practical with major supermarkets hedging their bets on Australia’s desire to get healthy and eat less meat.
Australia’s major supermarkets Woolworths, Coles and Aldi have crunched the numbers and predicted what food trends will be big this year, and they’re a far cry from the meat and three veg dinners most Baby Boomers grew up with.
This year’s food trends are all about convenience, sustainability and, surprisingly, Japanese cooking, with gut-friendly dishes and vegan-friendly options set to feature on more Aussie tables in 2019.
Here’s a quick overview of what to expect:
Diets that are focused on fruit and vegetables rather than meat are set to be massive in 2019. Plant-based burgers and meat-free mince will be all the rage, Woolworths predicts.
“We are seeing a trend where more of our customers are embracing meat alternatives and introducing vegetarian and vegan-friendly options into their weekly diets, including adding plant based foods that don’t compromise on taste, quality or price,” Woolworths Senior Nutritionist Natalie Chong told Starts at 60.
Likewise, Aldi says it expects increased demand for ready-meals that cater to specific dietary needs with alternative meat products leading the charge.
In fact, Australia is the third-fastest growing vegan market in the world, according to market researcher Euromonitor International.
The Flexitarian diet has also been deemed a popular trend for 2019. The Flexitarian diet is a mostly plant-based regime that allows for occasional consumption of meat. It’s especially popular with those trying to cut back on the amount of meat in their diet without cutting it out completely.
“Meat and three veg has become very much a thing of the past,” Coles Development Chef Michael Weldon says. “People want the health benefits of vegetarianism but still want to enjoy meat from time to time.”
Many health experts have noted the benefits of a diet that consists mostly of plant-based products, rather than relying on meat and carbohydrates to fill you up. Recent studies have shown that vegetarian diets can also help to lower blood pressure and reduce the overall risk of heart disease and stroke.
However, vegetarian and vegan diets can be somewhat of a catch 22 as they’re typically lower in protein than meat-based diets and can be lacking in some vitamins and minerals, such as iron.
Made up mostly of fresh seafood and steamed veggies, Japanese-inspired dishes will be popping up everywhere in 2019.
“It’s very healthy food,” Weldon explains. “The meat and fish is very lean. They incorporate a lot of vegetables. It’s very high in protein.
“Also the way they eat, with lots of small meals, and lots of seafood in their diet – it’s the way a lot of people in Australia want to eat now.”
In fact, a study by the British Medical Journal, found that those who followed a Japanese diet had a reduced risk of early mortality, heart disease and stroke.
Every year people are looking for more creative ways to make shopping and cooking easier, so it’s no surprise that convenience will also be taking centre stage in 2019. While consumers in the past focused on making meals from scratch, today’s supermarkets sell a variety of ready-made products.
“We are seeing a big year-on-year growth in fresh products like our salad kits and pre-cut vegetables, ready to roast, bake and cook, and this trend is set to continue in the year ahead,” Chong says.
Limited time is the top reason that prepared foods have become so popular in recent times as people have busier lives than ever before.
Coles Development Chef Jason Oven adds: “People’s lifestyles are hectic – they really don’t have much time, but they still want to be involved in cooking food. They still want to put a pan on the stove, but they don’t have time to do the chopping.”
Root-to-stem eating harks back to the old days of using every bit of a plant or animal to ensure there’s no waste. The movement has seen an increase in popularity in recent years as people hunt for more sustainable ways to live and shop.
Shoppers will notice more supermarkets selling ‘ugly’ fruit or veggies in 2019, with grocers jumping at the chance to sell fruit and veggies that would previously have been dumped because of their imperfections.
Using every bit of a vegetable or animal also means that people will become more creative with their cooking, looking for ways to utilise every last piece.
“People want to look at ways to use up the whole vegetable – using broccoli stems in a broccoli rice or pasta, or cauliflower stems in a cauliflower rice,” Weldon explains.
Experts are increasingly pointing towards gut health as a driving factor in our overall health, with gut-friendly fermented foods such has kombucha, pickled vegetables and kefir seeing a sharp rise in popularity in 2018.
This year, Chong predicts that these types of foods will continue to dominate restaurant and cafe menus, as well as line the shelves of supermarkets around the country.
“We are seeing customers become more focused on digestive wellness. Kombucha exploded on the scene last year and now has a mainstream following,” Chong says.
“This year we predict that functional products such as green banana flour, cereals with prebiotic fibre and fermented foods with probiotics like kefir will become increasingly popular with customers.”