Pegan diet, monk fruit and Kernza: which food trends should we expect in 2019?

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One of the most commonly used adjectives to describe the current food and beverage trend is ALTERNATIVE. More and more consumers prefer products that are not only tasty, nutritious and healthy but also produced in a sustainable manner.

Pulses and vegetables as staple food alternatives

In 2018, we have observed a growing interest in flexitarian lifestyle and increased consumer awareness of the benefits of high-fibre foods and complex carbohydrates.

With consumers changing their eating habits, start-ups are offering alternatives to common staple food products, such as rice, pasta and flour. The alternatives are mainly based on pulses (chickpeas, lentils, black beans) and vegetables (carrots, cauliflower) rather than on wheat.

Pulse-based pasta has an authentic taste yet can be served like any regular pasta dish. Big retailers such as DM Germany and producers like Barilla recognized the potential and introduced a line of protein pasta. Start-ups such as Clever Pasta offer a range of different flavoured options such as turmeric, chilli or wild garlic.

Plant-based, free of allergens, low in carbohydrates and high in proteins products are definitely on the rise and we expect to see more staple food alternatives coming in 2019.

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Photo Credit: Clever Pasta

Alternative seafood products

Plant-based meat alternatives are nothing new anymore. As people started caring more about animal welfare and food sustainability, food start-ups quickly understood the potential of this change. But as we are facing the same sustainability issues with seafood as we do with meat, numerous entrepreneurs introduced alternative seafood products.

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Photo Credit: Good Catch

US-based companies Sophie’s Kitchen, Good Catch, New Wave and Ocean Hugger Foods are the major producers of sustainable, allergen-free seafood products that are currently targeting the B2B market in the US.

Natural energy drinks

Energy drinks like Red Bull or Monster Energy have been consumed for decades and are designed to be a quick and easy way for a powerful energy boost. Synthetic drinks are widely used both as pure energizers or as a mix-in for alcoholic beverages. They have a high level of added caffeine, sugar and other ingredients that, according to their manufacturers, increase stamina and performance.

With changing consumer behaviour towards a healthier lifestyle driven by obesity concerns and the increasing awareness of product transparency, people started questioning the quality of energy drinks and demanding cleaner products with fewer calories. According to the Nutritional Outlook, “clean” is used to describe four types of ingredients:

1) caffeine from “pure”, natural, and organic sources;
2) botanicals and their extracts;
3) low-glycemic sweeteners;
4) slow-release, recognizable carbohydrates.

Start-ups such as foodspring and Mabura are dedicated to producing highly functional, qualitative, natural and clean foods and drinks.

Pegan diet

Pegan is a combination of paleo and vegan diets that includes the best of both. Over the last years, paleo has become the most popular diet and is based on the belief that our bodies perform best with food that existed during the Paleolithic area. In short, it means no artificial sugars, no grains or dairies no industrial meat, or any other foods that could not have been collected or hunted at that time.

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The purpose of this diet is actually to focus on food that does not raise our blood sugar level. But since paleo does not provide us with all the necessary vitamins, the obvious answer to this is combining paleo diet with a vegan component. This nutritional concept is called Pegan and has been pronounced the Diet Trend of 2019. However, some other consumers would call this a simple, balanced diet.

  • Vegetables are the main component of the meal.
  • Meat should be a side dish to vegetables, only 25% of the dish should be meat.
  • Avoid foods containing sugar and refined carbohydrates.
  • Only use good fats. Plant-based oils are a taboo with cold-pressed oils such as olive, coconut and avocado oil being an exception.
  • Dairy products should be avoided.
  • Keep away from whole grains. Look for alternatives such as protein-based products.
  • Refine sugar and substitutes are not allowed. Use Maple syrup, honey or coconut blossom sugar in moderation.
  • Ban additives for good.

Monk fruit

Customers are more conscious than ever about their sugar and calorie intake and the soft drink industry is reacting upon this change by using natural sweeteners. Coca-Cola products are currently sweetened by stevia, a low-calorie sweetener, which is already very popular in the Food & Beverage industry. The new kid on the block is monk fruit. This natural sweetener originates from southern China and northern Thailand. The juice of this fruit is about 200 times sweeter than conventional sugar, yet has no calories.

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At the moment, the Monk Fruit Corp., a Joined Venture Partner of Bio Vittoria Ltd. from New Zealand, is the only company in the world with a fully integrated supply chain for monk fruit.

FDA approved monk fruit as a sweetener in the USA in January 2010. Currently, monk fruit concentrate is in the process of regulatory approval and is expected to be introduced to the EU market in summer 2019. In the meantime, it is already used by several large beverage producers such as Nestlé, Pepsico, Coca-Cola, General Mills and Kellogg.

Kernza — a perennial grain

Kernza, also known as intermediate wheatgrass, is a new type of grain, that lives and remains productive for two or more years unlike traditional wheat, an annual crop that lasts for one season only and needs to be replanted each year.

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The plant survives due to its long root, which grows up to 3 metres deep into the ground. This allows Kernza to store nutrients, resist drought, improve wildlife habitat and reduce soil erosion, therefore ensuring a sustainable farming practice.

The crop has been developed and trademarked by The Land Institute and is expected to be widely available in the US in 2019. Kernza is said to have a sweet, nutty flavour and is, therefore, a good fit for any type of cereals, baked goods and snacks.

About the author

About Linda-Maria Acevedo (img_0294-3.jpg)

Linda-Maria Acevedo
Project Manager Market Intelligence at HOSPITALITY.digital


Linda-Maria Acevedo has gained 7 years of operational experience in the hotel and F&B industry while working for Kempinski. She graduated from EHL with a Bachelor degree in Hospitality Management. Linda-Maria also worked for the METRO chair of Innovation at EHL setting up the Market Intelligence Platform for online food trend tracking.

In January 2017 Linda-Maria Acevedo joined HOSPITALITY.digital to further engage in the Trend Scouting topic and integrate it into METRO operations.

The NX-Food visual branding and website are developed by dombek—bolay and Albert Naasner, in close collaboration with the NX-Food team.