Looking back on 2018, bowls of all types – from poke to smoothie – dominated health restaurant menus and Instagram feeds. But as consumers hunger for something new, what will be the next big health trend?

One answer is the rising interest in green or plant-based proteins, such as lupines, peas and soy, as well as meatlessproducts that mimic the look, taste and smell of meat. Behind this particular trend lie two main drivers: raising concerns for the environment and health, where people are starting to reassess their meat consumption and are looking for alternative sources of protein. Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) groups are a growing consumer demographic that have had a great effect on the development of the food industry. In Sweden for example, the number of LOHAS consumers are estimated to be 40 percent, according to KRAV’s* 2016 market report.   

Moving into 2019, this consumer mindset is set to grow. Thirty-one percent of Swedes, 23 percent of Danes and Norwegians and 41 percent of Finns say that they would be interested in eating more vegetable-based proteins, such as seitan, pulled oats or soy mince to protect the environment, according to Fazer Food Services’ consumer survey created by YouGov and published June 2018. 

At the same time, a growing number of people are choosing to be flexitarian, which means eating vegetarian most days but allowing themselves to eat meat once or twice a week. In the Nordic countries, an average of 25 percent say that they have changed their habits, reducing their meat consumption in the last year, according to YouGov’s 2018 Food and Health report.  

Besides cutting out or eating less meat, this trend is also about being selective about which animal proteins to consume. The tendency today is to stop eating red meat, choosing white meat, such as poultry, fish and protein-rich dairy instead 

*KRAV is an incorporated association that represent farmers, processors, trade and also consumer, environmental and animal welfare interests. KRAV has been key player in the organic market in Sweden since 1985. 

Three green proteins to watch  

Even though a rising number of people are opting for vegetarian food, they don’t want to compromise on flavour. Meat is still (and is likely to continue to be) a desirable taste, which is why alternatives that mimic its taste and texture are rising in popularity. Jackfruit is a fruit that is sometimes called fooled pork for its similarity to real meat, especially when marinated. 

Grey pea 
The grey maple pea, a staple in the Nordic kitchens of the 15th and 16th centuries and cultivated for their high protein and nutrient content, have almost disappeared from our kitchens. But it might see a renaissance soon thanks to some dedicated farmers. In fact at Vinnova, a Swedish agency that works to strengthen Sweden as a bastion of research and innovation, researchers are exploring the gastronomic potential of the grey pea. It is part of a project that explores the development of different climate-smart proteins as alternatives to meat production.  

Grass protein 
Today, many research projects are exploring grass protein as a sustainable and healthy source of protein that has a similar amino acid profile to soy and eggs. For example, researchers at DTU’s National Food Institute in Denmark have already created a grass protein bar. Besides working on processes for extracting the protein from the grass, they are exploring the challenge many might wonder about – how to make it taste good. The organization has tried adding ingredients such as peanut butter, honey, ginger and liquorice to help make common plant more palatable.   

Did you know? 
Fazer Group is a member of the Roundtable for Responsible Soy (RTRS), and is committed to using 100 percent certified soy by 2020. In short, this means soy products that are grown in a sustainable way. The commitment covers both the soy Fazer uses as an ingredient in food and soy that is used indirectly through animal feed used in the production of meat, fish, dairy products and eggs. 

Are you interested in learning more about new proteins? Read about this and other news and food trends in our Future Food Trend Report 2019.