Still-pandemic-weary consumers want healthy convenience and feel-good functionality baked right in to their meal and snack choices for 2022, according to a new survey of registered dietitians.
The 10th annual What's Trending in Nutrition survey from Pollock Communications and Today's Dietitian finds that as a third year dealing with COVID-19 dawns, consumers continue to show strong interest in foods and beverages touted as able to support immunity, promote emotional well-being and punch above their weight in terms of nutrient density and purported wellness benefits. Included in this latter category are plant-based foods as well as newer "functional" ingredients such as CBD, hemp and collagen, Pollock Communications President Louise Pollock said.
"With the focus on health and immunity in the next decade and the increased popularity of plant-based eating, nutrient-dense options will be an important part of consumer diets as [consumers] embrace food as medicine to help prevent disease," Pollock said in a news release. The survey of nearly 1,200 registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) placed fermented foods, blueberries and seeds (including chia and hemp) at the top of the list of trending superfoods for 2022, with higher-fat foods popular with keto-diet followers (avocado, nuts) and perennially praised leafy greens also making the top 10.
Other dietary trends that RDNs expect to gain or maintain momentum in the year ahead are intermittent fasting, social-media-sparked fad diets, online shopping as a way to keep must-haves on hand, and a need to balance health and affordability—especially as grocery prices continue to climb.
Respondents also flagged the proliferation of nutrition misinformation online, especially on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok (new to the list for 2022), as a cause for concern. RDNs called out social media as the No. 1 source of nutrition misinformation for consumers, with friends/family members ranked second and celebrities following closely in third place.
"In reviewing the past decade of changes in food and nutrition, RDNs are most surprised by the overcorrection in diet culture, from fat-free everything to the rise of the high-fat, low-carb ketogenic diet," the survey summary noted. Amid the whiplashes of the pandemic, however—whiplashes that still see many consumers working from home and snacking more often as a result—there may be some desire to trim the literal or figurative fat from diets: Clean eating claimed the No. 3 spot on RDNs' list of predicted popular diets in 2022, and carb-containing ancient grains made a return to the list of trending superfoods.