Top 10 Natural and Organic Food Trends for 2013

Chewy juices, fancy faux meats, indulgent nut butters and upscale, fortified waters are some of the 2013 food and beverage trends identified by the Sterling-Rice Group.  This Boulder-based consulting firm collected input from food industry experts and trade shows to identify emerging trends in the natural and organic space.  While this category may be smaller, mainstream trends are often born in the natural and organic niche because the costs and barriers to entry are lower, so it can be a testing ground for new ideas, says Christie Wood, account director and culinary strategist for the firm.  Here’s the list of ten 2013 trends and some of the new products breaking through:

1. Wholesome dude food. 

powerful yogurt

Apparently, men are the next big thing in “health food.”  Women have long been the target for most natural and organic foods,  but now we’re seeing food companies go after men — appealing to their desire for food-as-fuel, including a big emphasis on protein (which is big trend overall).  One example is Powerful Yogurt, billed as “the first yogurt in the U.S. designed for a man’s health and nutrition needs.”  This male-oriented Greek yogurt contains 20-25 grams of protein per cup, and like other wholesome dude food, the yogurt features dark, bold packaging  to appeal to the male esthetic. Other examples include Tanka Bars that are made with buffalo and dried fruit. These products are promoted as Native American Foods, which was a trend I recently spotted at the National Restaurant Association show.


2. Higher-order benefits. 


In the drinks category, beverages are moving away from functional benefits (such as weight loss or heart health) and diving into emotional territory with loftier promises, such as clarity, inner peace and calmness. Turmeric-based beverages are billed as yoga in a bottle, and Neuro Bliss is a lightly carbonated beverage with added vitamins that claims to reduce stress and improve concentration.

neuro bliss


3. Salad greens go beyond the bowl. 

sneakz drinks

Leafy greens like kale and arugula are sprouting up in drinks, snacks and sweets — including Earth Chips Cheezy Kale and Chocolate Kale (touted as raw, organic, vegan and kosher).  Sneakz makes flavored milk drinks for kids with “a full serving of veggies” in every box, including carrots, sweet potatoes and broccoli. Or if you’re in the mood for tea, you can find Numi savory teas that are spiked with vegetables, including varieties such as broccoli cilantro, spinach chive, carrot curry and beet cabbage.


4. Upscale, fortified waters.


 Blk Fulvic Acid Water by Headlines & Heroes on flickr

So what does H20 2.o look like?  A stroll down the bottled water aisle will reveal lots of new options, including black water. BLK is made with a highly alkaline fulvic acid that provides the black hue and the purported benefits, including promises to counteract acidity form meats and processed foods. But I agree with Self, that this is more of a gimmick than a godsend.  Other waters boast about natural ingredients such as birch tree juice and extra-virgin olive oil, “with the antioxidants of a liter of olive oil.”

5. Chewy beverages.


Mamma Chia beverages by Native Sun Natural Products on flickr

The beverages that are making the biggest splash today are infused with ingredients that give them a bit of a bite, such as chia seeds.  One of the most popular is the Mamma Chia “vitality” beverage line that “seed your soul.”  Kombucha is another textured beverage, due to the fermentation that creates the “floaties” in the drink. Other drinks are spiked with syrupy flax seeds.

6. High-tech mock meats.

Beyond Meat

You can now find lots of soybean and pea-protein based products that are trying to look, taste and act like meat, including faux grilled chicken strips from Beyond Meat that actually feature grill marks so you won’t miss the real thing. Quorn meatless grounds are attempting to herd in the ground beef space for vegans and others who are attempting to eat less meat.

7. Allergen-free alternative proteins.

simply protein chips

Plant-based proteins such as peas and beans are not only making a starring role in the fancy faux meats, but they’re showing up in snacks, including Simply Protein chips and Larabar Alt bars. The high-protein snacks are promoted as satiety boosters, and an alternative to soy and dairy-based proteins. Gluten-free is also a sought-after attribute.

8. Indulgent nut butters.

PB crave

Maybe the popularity of Nutella paved the way for this trend, but there’s no doubt that peanut butter has never been the same.  One popular line is PB Crave, which perhaps best illustrates this next generation of nut butters.  These peanut butters are blended with dark and white chocolate, raspberries, honey and other ingredients.  NuttZo is a peanut-free spread that contains a variety of nuts and seeds mixed with dark chocolate and other flavors.


9. Nutritional desserts.


FoodBev Photos on flickr 

Positive nutrition is also being brought into the dessert table with an array of “functional” desserts that are trying to tempt your tastebuds and keep you well.  Made with indulgent ingredients, with no shortages of promises, this trend includes The Cookie Department “fully functional cookies,” fortified with probiotics and other ingredients that claim to detoxify and enhance your immune system. Another example is ProYo, a high-protein frozen yogurt that touts 20 grams of protein per tube (the protein trend is big even with sweets).


10. South American super foods.

simply originals


It seems lots of trendy foods are coming from Peru these days, and purple is right in the middle of this Andean trend (which I recently wrote about).   In the drinks category, that trend is coming alive with Simply Originals’ Chicha Morada drink that’s made from purple maize (although water and sugar are the first two ingredients).  Other examples in this category include Brazilian acerola cherries and Chilean maqui fruit.

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