New Pollock Communications study: What’s Trending in Nutrition

by | Mar 10, 2022

From TikTok, online food shopping, and snacking, to eating for health and immunity, the latest data reveals a wave of change resulting from the pandemic. The 10th annual Pollock Communications and Today’s Dietitian “What’s Trending in Nutrition” survey provides an in-depth look at the trends for 2022 and beyond, as well as a flashback to the past decade. With 1,173 Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) responding, this is the most comprehensive collection of data from nutrition experts actively working in the field. RDNs agree that the shift from low-carb to high-fat diets like the ketogenic diet is the most surprising change from the past decade, followed by plant-based eating, which is emphasized by the 2022 Top 10 Superfoods. Rising in popularity over the years and accelerated by the pandemic, health and immunity will be the biggest trend in the next decade that will shape changes in the food industry, continuing to fuel an era of food innovations.

“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 they embrace food as medicine to help prevent disease,” says Louise Pollock, president of Pollock Communications. “In addition, there will likely be an increased interest in functional foods containing ingredients that provide health benefits beyond their nutrient profile.”

Due to COVID-19, the majority of RDNs say online food shopping is here to stay and consumers continue to snack more as a result of working from home and seeking comfort from food. TikTok lands in the top three on the list of nutrition misinformation sources with RDNs citing social media as the biggest supplier of inaccurate nutrition news, followed by friends and family, and celebrities. Here’s a closer look at the findings.

Top 10 Takeaways from the 10th Annual Trends Survey

  1. Trends Throwback– 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. Other notable changes include plant-based eating, nutrition misinformation from social media, gluten-free products, intermittent fasting, gut health and immunity, dairy-free and plant-based milk products, vegetarian and vegan diets, online grocery shopping and the multitude of fad diets that have emerged.
  2. Purchase Drivers– As a result of the pandemic, RDNs predict the top purchase drivers of 2022 will be foods and beverages that: 1) support immunity, 2) are affordable and value-based and 3) promote comfort and emotional well-being. Also, RDNs predict consumers will be looking for newer functional ingredients such as CBD, collagen and hemp in 2022 and beyond, continuing their rise in popularity.
  3. What’s in a Label– “Convenience”, “healthy”, and “taste” are the top attributes consumers look for (in that order) when making a food purchase, followed by “lower cost” and “natural”. “Healthy” first made the top three list in 2019, as consumers began to better understand the connection between food and overall well-being.
  4. It’s a Digital World– 90% of RDNs cite online food shopping as the biggest trend from the pandemic that they believe will continue, compelling marketers to reimagine ways to reach consumers on virtual shopping platforms, including more online promotions, digital coupons and immersive virtual branding experiences.
  5. Snack Attack– Due to the pandemic, 95% of RDNs say that consumers are snacking more. RDNs believe that the increase in snacking is related to more consumers working from home, followed by an increased desire for comfort foods.
  6. 2022 Top 10 Superfoods– Fermented foods are once again #1, likely because of their immune- and gut-boosting benefits. Superfood favorites like seeds, nuts, and avocados have consistently made the list over the years, while ancient grains make a comeback for 2022 predictions. Green tea, known for its anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties which all true teas contain, is a staple superbeverage packed with powerful flavonoids.
  1. Bad Influence(r)– “Influencers” show no sign of slowing down, but be wary of who you follow. RDNs say that consumers receive the most nutrition misinformation from social media with friends and family coming in second, and celebrities a close third.
  2. Social Pseudoscience– The digital world is fueling false nutrition news according to RDNs who say these platforms are the top three sources: 1) Facebook, 2) Instagram and 3) TikTok. TikTok is new to the list this year knocking out blogs/vlogs for the number three spot.
  3. Fast Break– According to RDNs, the popular diet trends for 2022 are expected to be: 1) Intermittent fasting, 2) ketogenic and 3) clean eating.
  4. Eat Your Veggies– Year after year, the top RD nutrition recommendation is to eat more servings of vegetables per day. RDNs also recommend that consumers limit highly processed foods or fast food as well as foods with “added sugars”, increase fiber intake, and reduce saturated and trans-fats in the diet.

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