The Three Trends I Saw at FNCE®This Year
I recently got back from the Food and Nutrition Conference Expo, better known to most as FNCE®. The conference has a few different parts: there are lectures on current nutrition topics, a poster hall displaying current research, and, what I’m most excited to share with you, the actual expo. The expo is comprised of hundreds of different brands showcasing their products – this year there were nearly 500 exhibitors! Each brand has a booth that almost looks like a little pop-up shop with samples to try, coupons to take home, and plenty of information about the brand.
As someone who works with brands constantly on social media and beyond, I couldn’t wait to check out new products at the expo and connect with better known brands that I’ve tried or worked with prior. Knowing about new products helps me so much when working with clients – it keeps me in the know about new foods my clients might be trying, and ensures I always have different products to recommend to them and to my followers on Instagram. If a client has a question about a new product they saw on social media, or if they’re looking for food recommendations (which they often are!), it’s crucial for me to know about these brands and their products. As I walked around, I definitely noticed a few constant trends among the booths at expo – I’m super excited to share those expo trends with you.
Trend: Prebiotics and Probiotics
The popularity of both pre- and probiotics has risen like crazy over the past year, so while I wasn’t too surprised to see them as a prominent theme at expo, it was still exciting to see all of the different ways that brands are incorporating them into foods. I was excited to see so many different yogurt brands, all which contain their own blend of probiotic strains. Prebiotics, the foods that feed the bacteria in the gut, were abundant and included oats, seed-based crackers, and coconut flour-based baked goods. With so much new research coming out recently about the benefit of consuming both prebiotics and probiotics, it was really great to see so many brands quickly getting on board.
Trend: Fewer Ingredients
Another trend that didn’t surprise me, but was still exciting to see portrayed, was a focus on fewer and better known ingredients. I’ve noticed in the nutrition world (and especially on social media), there has been a huge focus lately on eating foods with ingredients that you recognize and can pronounce. I have mixed opinions on this: while I understand the value in eating foods containing only well-known ingredients, from a food science perspective, I also understand that often times, stabilizers and additives are needed to make a product palatable or shelf-stable. And, these ingredients do go through rigorous qualified expert panel evaluation and FDA approval processes!
Nonetheless, it’s a great initiative, and I love that so many brands took a stab at this at FNCE®. There were plenty of fresh produce brands displaying their products – foods like avocado, cranberries, and blueberries all had amazing booths. I noticed this trend with foods like seed and nut butters, ice creams, and even baking mixes. In packaged foods that traditionally contain additives and stabilizers, it was really great to see so many brands breaking their products down to contain just the necessary basics.
Trend: Less Sugar
The low sugar trend has been gaining momentum over the past few years. More and more, research has uncovered the negative effects of a diet high in added sugars on both blood sugar managementand weight management.
I love that brands took note of this and displayed more products that were lower in added sugars or helped reduce calories from added sugars. Of these, I was so excited to see SPLENDA® Naturals Stevia Sweetener and their new SPLENDA®Zero portfolio of liquid sweeteners (they even have a new stevia version!). This line is travel size, which is perfect to take my sweetness to go.
I’ve heard from a lot of clients and colleagues recently who were looking for a natural sugar alternative without artificial flavors or preservatives. I love that SPLENDA® Naturals is non-GMO and made by minimal and common processes. Moreover, the stevia leaf extract in SPLENDA® Naturals primarily consists of Reb D, a newer extract that has no aftertaste. Their Stevia line is 100% natural, tastes like sugar, has no aftertaste, and is no-calorie per serving. They have a granulated version, packets, and a tabletop jar.
Additionally, also supporting the low sugar trend, were brands with products like yogurts, ice creams and even teas and soft drinks. These are all products that traditionally contained large amounts of added sugar; it was so great to see newer brands working to reduce the amount of added sugar in these foods and beverages.
As a dietitian, it was really exciting to see that this year’s FNCE®trends were so in line with the general, healthy guidelines that I recommend to clients. Pre- and probiotics, fewer ingredients in products, and a lower sugar intake are all initiatives that I can definitely stand behind. I was thrilled to see so many brands at FNCE®supporting these trends through so many unique and innovative products. Their products are so useful to learn about in order to recommend on social media and to clients – I can’t wait to start to put many of them into use.
PS. Want to incorporate all three of these trends into a recipe? Try these Baked Pear Oatmeal Bars that are a good source of fiber and contain only a few common ingredients.
Baked Pear Oatmeal Bars
4 cups old fashioned oats
1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
¼ cup SPLENDA® Naturals Stevia Sweetener, Granulated
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 pears (any variety), chopped
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Add oats, cinnamon, baking powder and salt to a large bowl and mix well. In a separate bowl, mix together almond milk, SPLENDA® Naturals Stevia Sweetener, vanilla, applesauce and egg.
Add wet ingredients into dry and mix into well combined. Fold the chopped pears into the mixture.
Pour into an 8x8 greased baking dish. Bake oats for 25-30 minutes, or until cooked through. Let cool, and cut into 9 squares.
This blog post is sponsored by SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener. All thoughts and opinions are my own.