From the rise of a vegan lifestyle to exciting new superfoods and less food waste, discover a few of the experts’ top predicted food trends for 2017. Power to the plants According to experts, aspirations for healthier and cleaner lifestyles are motivating us to prioritise fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains and botanicals. In response, more manufacturers are releasing or promoting products that centre on plants. The momentum started in 2016 as plants gained top billing in product names and marketing, such as the European launch of Evian Fruits & Plants flavoured waters and the “Do Plants” slogan from WhiteWave’s Silk non-dairy milk brand in the US. According to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), we’ve seen a 25% increase in vegetarian claims and a 257% rise in vegan claims in global food and drink launches between September 2010 – August 2011 and September 2015 – August 2016 – and this is only set to rise for 2017. Many consumers already place a personal emphasis on plants within their health and wellness goals. When it comes to eating healthily, according to Mintel, 55% of UK adults include plenty of vegetables in meals and 24% incorporate superfood ingredients – so expect plenty more plant power in 2017. The new superfood: Seaweed Whether or not you buy into the superfood hype, there’s no doubt that 2017 will herald the dawn of a new ultra-trendy health food of some description. Waitrose’s Food and Drinks Report 2016 suggests that seaweed is set to dethrone kale from its perch, as it’s a good source of calcium and iron and can be eaten as ‘spaghetti’, in salads or as a vegetable. More meat alternatives It seems that the meat-free lifestyle will also be ever-popular in 2017. Jackfruit – an Asian tropical fruit that’s part of the fig and mulberry family – is an interesting one. Experts reckon that jackfruit has the most potential to go mainstream because of its meaty texture and ability to absorb the flavours in which it’s cooked. The return of the aubergine Aubergine will also make a major comeback in the New Year. Waitrose’s own research confirmed this resurgence, revealing that aubergine is the latest carb substitute, with sales rising by 18% so far this year – and is a favourite replacement for the burger bun, as well as pasta sheets. Poke bowls Not to be confused with Poké Balls, in-house nutritionist at health app Lifesum, Frida Harju, suggests that the Hawaiian delicacy, pronounced ‘po-kay,’ looks likely to be next year’s must-eat snack”. Plant water Following the success of coconut water, we’ll also be seeing more plant waters in our diets. Here’s two types predicted to be hits: • Birch sap water – which boasts high levels of antioxidants, natural minerals and Xylitol (a natural sugar). • Cactus plant water – which has health benefits that include helping fight high cholesterol levels and curing hangovers. Less food waste The sheer amount of food and drink that’s wasted around the world is propelling change across the industry. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. roughly one third, or approximately 1.3 billion tonnes, of the food produced for global human consumption is lost or wasted. 2017 is set to bring lots of change in attitudes towards the food we throw away – in particular, imperfect produce. In 2017, the stigma associated with ‘ugly’ produce is predicted to fade. Positive publicity could also lead to more special events like the Feed the City event in Belfast, Northern Ireland – where visitors were able to enjoy a range of wonky produce during the height of harvest. More Mexican food Mexican food has been on the rise. With burrito outlets now the fastest growing eatery on the high street, the luxury sector is taking note and launching authentic Mexican offerings to their gastronomic offerings.