Popular healthy menu trends to watch

As part of the National Restaurant Association’s recent webinar titled “The New Healthy Healthy,” popular menu trends were showcased that will take advantage of consumer demand for healthier options.

Food marketing research firm Datassential presented some interesting findings on dining inclinations among consumers that will shift how the foodservice industry caters to healthy food seekers. Dietitian Marie Molde said that anything “healthy” is popular, but what isn’t drawing much interest currently are labels such as low calorie, low carb, low fat, and cholesterol free foods.

According to Datassential’s research, two-thirds of consumers say what they eat and drink is important to them. Therefore, it is important to recognize the trends that are developing and jump on them. Here are just a few of the big trends Datassential has identified:

1) Plant-based foods

Marie Molde says that vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, and legumes were the most perceived healthy foods, and for good reason. They provide a variety of health benefits, so including more items featuring them is a smart choice.

Plant-based protein alternatives are also highly sought after right now. Black beans, quinoa, chick peas (like in hummus), and falafel  make useful protein alternatives and can be easily added to your menu.

2) Alternative milks and nut butters

Molde identifies non-dairy milks as having a 30 percent growth in the last four years. One in ten menus in America features alternative milks, such as soy milk, almond milk, and coconut milk.

Nut butters are also extremely popular. Datassential finds that almond butter’s popularity has risen 121 percent, pistachio butter has risen 348 percent, and cashew butter has risen an astounding 998 percent. Companies such as American Almond provide great nut butter products that can be featured in your bakery.

3) Sprouted grains

Sprouted grains have become a mainstream item at bakeries across the country. Natural, organic, and functional, this grain provides a back-to-basics approach to food. Sprouted grain breads is a popular menu inclusion, both on its own and as a part of artisan sandwiches.

In 2017, major chains have unveiled sandwiches and other items using sprouted grains. Starbucks offered a sprouted grain bagel, and Au Bon Pain introduced its Signature Farmhouse Omelet sandwich on toasted sprouted grain bread.

To see the full webinar from the National Restaurant Association, click here.