Health and wellness is a constantly evolving global megatrend. For the food and beverage industry, it has meant removing ingredients perceived as harmful to your body—such as trans fatty acids, GMOs, and added sugars—while incorporating better-for-you ingredients with functional properties like protein and probiotics.

 Here are the top trends to look for in 2019:

• Plant-Based – According to NDP Group, plant-based product claims experienced a compound annual growth rate of 62% worldwide from 2013 to 2017, though 86% of people buying plant-based products are meat-eaters. The reasoning behind flexitarian adoption of plant-based options is likely two-fold: the perception is that plant-based products are better-for-you as well as more sustainable than their animal-based counterparts. 
For beverages, the largest plant-based category is dairy alternative milks. Coconut and almond milk have the lion’s share of the category but expect niche plant-based dairy alternative products made from ingredients like oat, chickpea, and sesame on menus and at grocery stores.

• Nostalgia – There’s plenty going on in the world causing consumers to be stressed, so food and beverage that trigger pleasant feelings of nostalgia are a welcome distraction. 

Products incorporating flavors that incite memories of childhood like cereal milk, s’mores, birthday cake, and cookie dough are evergreen and are especially popular in coffee beverages, protein shakes, and cocktails. Other flavors like pumpkin spice, maple, eggnog and caramel apple are popular in LTOs because they trigger nostalgia inspired by season change and holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

• Superfoods Deep Rooted in Ancient Traditions – Consumers are becoming more familiar with ingredients deep-rooted in Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine because they have appeared in products like coffee, smoothies, wellness shots and cold-pressed juices. Turmeric, medicinal mushrooms, ashwagandha, and goji berries have a history in these ancient traditions and will be top functional ingredients in new beverage launches.

• Functional/Colorful – Ingredients like blue algae, beet, matcha, butterfly pea flower, charcoal and purple tea make beautiful beverages that are chock-full of health benefits, which has made them a staple on Instagram. Butterfly pea flower tea will be the rising star of 2019 because it is high in antioxidants and naturally changes color from blue to purple when brewed. Expect to see more antioxidant-rich purple tea products as well this year if the supply chain matures.

• Green Living – Cannabidiol (CBD) is the non-psychoactive compound in cannabis that will be a popular ingredient in products across beverage categories next year and beyond. CBD is suggested to aid with pain, nausea, seizures, anxiety and depression which makes it an enticing functional ingredient. It’s also risqué in nature because of the controversial sourcing of the ingredient and that may add to its appeal. 

Cannabis industry analysts The Brightfield Group predict the US’ CBD market will reach $591 million this year and $22 billion by 2022 (a five-year CAGR of 132%). On a much smaller scale will be non-alcoholic beverages enhanced with THC in states where cannabis is legal.

Originally appeared in the December, 2018 issue of Prepared Foods as Holistic Health, Wellness.