Allergen-free, humane food among Things to Watch in 2013

Report released by JWT marketing group.

Dec. 20—JWT, a marketing communications brand, has released its Things To Watch in 2013 Food & Beverage Report. This is part of its eighth annual forecast of key trends that will drive or significantly impact consumer mindset and behavior in the year to come. The food and beverage Things to Watch include:

Allergen-free: With food allergies rising worldwide—a 2011 study found that as many as one in 12 American children may have a food allergy, twice as high as previous studies found—the report predicts seeing allergen-free items becoming as ubiquitous as gluten-free.

Chia seeds: Chia seeds, once part of the Aztec and Mayan diets, offer protein, antioxidants and fiber, as well as omega-3 fatty acids.

Faux meat: Meat substitutes are gaining adherents among the masses as more people cut down on meat for budget, health or environmental reasons and as faux meat gets tastier and more convincing.

Food sharing: The report mentions the rise of peer-to-peer services, from car-sharing to accommodation-sharing, which leads to an increase in food-sharing. Food sharing encompasses both meal co-ops—services like Mealku in New York and Super Marmite in Paris that enable sharing of home-cooked dishes—and concepts like Feastly that bring disparate diners together in the homes of amateur chefs.

Humane food: Consumers will become more concerned about the humane treatment of the animals they eat, a trend that’s already under way.

Menu-free dining: As more restaurants try to be all things to all diners in this era of fussy eating—catering to a multitude of dietary restrictions and food allergies—some are going in the other direction, adopting a limited-options approach.

Reduced-guilt candy: Consumers can have their cake and eat it too with candy that dials down on the sinful stuff and amps up the beneficial ingredients, says the report.

Teff: Consumed for thousands of years in Ethiopia, this supergrain has been slowly gaining favor outside Africa, due in part to its exceptional nutritional quality. Teff is gluten-free, full of essential amino acids, high in protein, calcium and fiber, and low in fat.

Vegetable boxes: Watch for this trend, which has long been popular in the U.K., to pop up in more markets and become a new revenue stream for brands and retailers. These boxes, delivered to customers’ homes, are packed with locally grown and mostly organic produce and sometimes meat and dairy products.

Vertical farming: In a bid to reduce its dependence on imports, Singapore recently opened the first commercial-scale vertical farm. Its 120 aluminum towers, each 30 feet tall, produce more than 1,000 pounds of vegetables a day. Vertical farming is reputed to be more environmentally sound than traditional farming and also enables year-round agricultural production.

Yogurt shops: Yogurt has been spiking in popularity, especially in the U.S., as consumers seek healthier snacks and functional foods, and embrace Greek yogurt.