4 healthy food and drinks trends to watch in 2018

It’s the beginning of the year and this means new intentions for many consumers for healthier food and drinks choices. At Sustainable Lead we look at the top 4 healthy food and drinks trends that will leave their impressions on front-of-the curve consumers in 2018. This may serve as fresh inspiration for new product development, branding and new ways of engaging consumers.

1. ‘Alcohol-free(dom)’

Dry January’, ‘Stoptober’ and the thirst for ‘mocktails’ are sending a clear message of a consumer trend to watch. Globally we are experiencing a megatrend for healthy living making it increasingly socially acceptable to be “sober curious” and skip drinking at social occasions. According to the UK Office for National Statistics the proportion of teetotal 16- to 24-year olds increased by 40% between 2005 to 2014, with 25% of young adults avoiding alcohol altogether.

Consumers are looking for alcohol-free alternatives without compromising on the trend for elevated experiences, ‘theatre’ and taste sensations. One such alternative is Seedlip, artistically conceptualised and branded as the world’s first alcohol-free spirit infused with spices and herbs, hereby offering a real alternative for discerning consumers and embraced by top bartenders in New York and London. Seedlip, is arguably a game changer in the spirits industry and has marked the start of a whole new category of non-alcoholic spirits. It is still early days to forecast the future category size, but industry experts have high expectations. “We recognise the opportunity of non-alcoholic drinks [and] we continue to explore and invest in this area.” says Helen Michels, director of global innovation at Diageo who is actively encouraging entrepreneurs to pitch product ideas for Diageo to invest in.

Another product group to keep an eye on in the alcohol-free space is sparkling kombucha as an alternative to champagne with its wine-like qualities. It can offer a similar experience for the health-conscious consumer with added health benefits from the good bacteria.

2. Personalised nutrition

Our bodies are becoming an instrument we can monitor, track and fine tune. Via personal health data from our smartphones and home-test kits we can closely follow the current health state of our bodies. This opens up the space for hyper-personalised product offerings. Across industries we see a surge in these offerings with their influence on diets and nutrition to reach new levels in 2018.

An interesting example is Viome, which is also leveraging the growing research and interest into the microbiome and its effects on both physical and mental health. It offers personalised meal plans based on an individual’s gut microbiome.

Habit, does the same, however based on a different marker, using indicators of individual metabolism, blood sugar and heart health to design optimal individualised nutrition plans.

The area of individualised supplements will also see increasing demand and an interesting more generic – and beautifully branded – example is Goop, where users can choose between four supplement packages based on whether they are tired, stressed, pregnant or experiencing a slow metabolism. 

3. Brainfood

A growing number of scientific studies cover the connection between the gut and mind with food being perceived as more critical for the healthy functioning of the brain than previously thought, according to Harvard Health Publishing.

Innova Market Insights report a 36% growth in global product launches with brain claims over the last five years and it is our estimate that this will grow further. Unprocessed, natural foods will gain further foothold in the mainstream. Among the brain superfoods to watch in 2018 is dulse, a red seaweed breed – described by some to have a taste of bacon – and with an unusually large amount of poly-unsaturated essential fatty acids needed for optimum brain function.

Moringa, is another super green with twice the amount of protein than spinach and three times as much iron, with the potential to become an even more popular anti-inflammatory food choice than turmeric was in 2017.

“The brainfood trend will also move further into the mainstream physical realm. As an example, the New York based Honeybrains Café offers a neurologist-designed food menu, where ingredients such as raw honey and avocado are chosen for their ability to provide health and wellness benefits”

The brainfood trend will also move further into the mainstream physical realm. As an example, the New York based Honeybrains Café offers a neurologist-designed food menu, where ingredients such as raw honey and avocado are chosen for their ability to provide health and wellness benefits.

In London, Farmacy, a health restaurant has launched a Farmacy Shot Bar together with Selfridges Food Hall. The brain food inspired menu consists of fully plant-based and natural offerings served in customised syringe shots. Ingredients such as oregano oil, orange flower water and bluegreen algae aims to boost the immune system.

4. Moodfood

Depression is projected by WHO to become the biggest disease burden in 2030. Poor mental health has been linked to the growing social media addiction, with 50% of teens reporting to be addicted to their smartphone according to Common Sense Media. Mental health is still a stigmatised area, but the awareness levels are growing and the connection to food is getting more attention via the relatively new field of nutritional psychiatry. For the food industry, this gives rise to innovative offerings such as “mood food” focusing on the wellbeing side of mental health.

Monarch Airlines has introduced a mood-enhancing food menu to help passengers feel calmer and less anxious during flights. The Mood Food box includes natural ingredients such as echinacea and licorice ice cream to boost immunity, green tea and lavender cakes to improve relaxation, and herbal tea to reduce bloating. Gatwick Airport has also experimented in the realm of mood food with several of its restaurants offering serotonin-rich ingredients such as tuna, salmon, citrus fruits and banana. Cocktail bars are also capitalising on the trend, with London bar Barts offering mood-heightening cocktails named after the feeling they are intended to create, such as Happiness, Focus or Relax, made with natural ingredients such as cherry tomatoes, smoked wheat coffee beans, and chamomile elixir. 


About the authors

  • Karina Kaae Hermansen, is the founder of Sustainable Lead and works as futurist and strategic advisor specialised in future consumer trends in the areas of healthy and sustainable living. She has a background as management consultant from McKinsey and the consumer goods industry. She gives talks, holds seminars and advises companies and organisations in how to adapt to the future opportunities in these areas.
  • Jenny Tzakova, is Research Associate at Sustainable Lead. She has a background from Deloitte Management Consulting in Denmark, where she has worked as a strategy and insights consultant advising businesses across industries. Having lived for a number of years in London, Jenny has worked for one of the leading global futurists, Kjær Global, as a researcher providing their clients fact-based analysis, insights and forecasts about the future consumer trends.

For more information contact Karina at or +456054090.

This article has also been published by Natural Products Global as Expert Opinion

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

clear formPost comment