Online grocer FreshDirect has plant-based foods, regenerative agriculture and on-the-go food and snacks atop its list of trends for 2020.

The retailer’s in-house team of food and wine specialists compiled the list, according to a news release. Other trends that made the cut included low-carb adult beverages; organic, natural and biodynamic wine; functional beverage and gut health; transparency and traceability; and artisan cheeses.

Produce dovetails with a number of those areas.

As the plant-based movement has grown, many companies have begun offering products designed to be used as substitutes for rice or pasta — cauliflower rice and zucchini noodles are among the most popular. A number of companies have also started adding plant-based protein to their salads, and others offer plant-based dips that are merchandised in the produce department.

Regenerative agriculture focuses on taking a sustainable approach to soil. When it comes to sustainability more broadly, some produce companies have already started to publicize more of the practices they employ.

The snacking movement has been growing for years in produce as people seek more convenient food but want more nutritional value from it, and the industry has offered numerous solutions through single-serving packages, combinations of produce and protein, more fresh-cut options, and other products. For the most part, new product innovation continues to be concentrated in the on-the-go area.

The functional beverage trend isn’t necessarily one that would naturally be associated with the produce industry, but at least one company is jumping on board. Bolthouse Farms introduced at Fresh Summit a line of wellness “shots” — designed to provide a quick hit of energy, immunity, digestion, wellness or metabolism — along with a CBD Functional Infusions beverage line.

The transparency and traceability trend is something produce has been increasingly taking up because of the food safety issues with leafy greens in recent years. The trend goes beyond food safety, however.

“Consumers have become increasingly educated on the food supply chain, ingredients and the environmental impact of what they eat,” FreshDirect wrote in the release. “Because of this, many brands are introducing source traceability into their packaging so that consumers can learn exactly where certain ingredients are sourced and how they’re harvested.

“We expect to see further traceability and transparency for brands as this trend grows in 2020,” FreshDirect wrote.


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