Last week, the Eat Well Global team attended the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) in Boston. FNCE is the annual gathering of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics with an attendance of over 10,000 Registered Dietitians and nutrition experts from the U.S. and abroad. The conference grants a fantastic opportunity to catch up with colleagues and explore new and innovative products on the expo floor. Here are a few trends we noticed while sampling our way through the hundreds of vendors who attended the event:
If you’ve never heard of FODMAPs, you’re about to! Consuming a diet low in FODMAPs, or Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols, has been linked to a reduction in IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) symptoms. Developed by researchers at Monash University in Australia, the Low FODMAP diet has taken the nutrition world by storm and studies on its efficacy seem to come out every day. Comparable to what gluten-free is for Celiac Disease, low FODMAP products are being created for the 25 to 45 million Americans suffering from IBS – everything from salsa to pasta sauce to protein bars and drinks. There’s even a company called FODY Low FODMAP FOOD Co. who specializes in all things low FODMAP.
The gastrointestinal tract has gained so much popularity that there was an entire “Healthy Gut Pavilion” at the expo hall. Everything from functional fibers to fermented foods and probiotic-infused products could be found. Sunfiber and Beneo offer up functional fibers that can be added to a variety of products, while Regular Girl featured a prebiotic fiber and probiotic blend that dissolves into any beverage. If you’re looking for interesting flavors, check out probiotic-rich kraut and “gut shot” beverages from Farmhouse Culture. And Bob’s Red Mill now has a protein powder with the nutritional boost of chia seeds and probiotics. Not to mention, there were multiple education sessions on feeding the microbiome and the gut-brain highway. We expect to see more of a focus on gut health in the years to come – this trend is certainly not a fad!
With the United Nations declaring 2016 as the “International Year of the Pulses,” plant-based proteins like beans, lentils, and peas have been getting quite the attention. Representatives from the American Pulse Association, Canadian Lentils, and The Bean Institute touted the health benefits of eating legumes. However, manufacturers have started adding pulses to a variety of different foods – everything from pasta to chips. If you’re looking for a noodle that’s higher in protein and fiber, check out Banza and Explore Cuisine. Enjoy Life has Plentils, or lentil chips, in a variety of flavors, and Veggie Fries has crispy fries with chickpeas and red pepper baked right into the potato.
Every year, the natural and organic section of the expo seems to get larger and larger, and this year was no exception. There was an abundance of small and new businesses on the floor representing this market. However, many companies, big and small, were highlighting their commitment to sustainability, responsible sourcing, and transparency. More consumers seem to be looking at both personal health and the health of the planet when selecting products.
Well, there you have it, four major themes we noticed at FNCE 2016 in Boston. Trends come and go, but we imagine these will be around for quite some time.