The YOU Food Economy: 4 Trends Revolutionizing the Way We Eat

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know how rapidly the food landscape is changing. You know that today eaters are increasingly calling the shots-through their food dollars, social entrepreneurship, social media influence, or even with products they have created for the marketplace.

The mega-trend that's emerging from all this? I call it the YOU Food Economy.

Far beyond debating  fat vs. carbohydrate, practicing Paleo or slashing sugar, the YOU Food Economy is about creating a food plan and eating philosophy that’s uniquely based on the total sum of YOU. Here are 4 ideas transforming the nutrition arena now-and that are worth watching closely.

4 Trends Shaping the YOU Food Economy

  1. The Nutrigenomics Revolution: A fresh frontier of science is mapping how we literally turn on and off genes depending on the foods we eat (and lifestyle habits, such as smoking, exercise and meditation). Food is far more than a sum of nutrients, calories or ingredient It provides crucial information that tells our genes how to behave. While still in its infancy, pioneers are leveraging these genetic insights to reach peak performance or stoke longevity, and even to better fend off disease. This revolution is focused the unique blueprint of YOU.
  2. The 24/7 Digitized You: Sure, Fitbit got us hooked. But the Internet of Things is rapidly pushing the boundaries of biometrics with Wearable 2.0: devices are more supple, and they talk with our smart phones, health professionals or the brands we do business with. This not not invites even more customized self-monitoring, it’s a trove of insights which companies can capitalize on in new ways. Like the buzz-generating stretchable electronic UV patch just out from La Roche - simply wear it on your skin, and it works with an app to tell you how much sun exposure you’re getting. While real medical and clinical potential exists to positively disrupt healthcare, research is still unclear the extent to which all of this Big Data will prod us into better behaviors. But it’s definitely launching the next revolution in Biofeedback of YOU.
  3. “Free-From” & The Rise of Generation WHY: Eaters crave honesty. We want connection. And we're hungry brands that reflect our deepest values. While a recent study examining over 2000 foods found that those wth health claims were only marginally healthier, in some ways it was measuring outdated metrics (saturated fat, calories, sodium). The real action in 2016 is “Free From” claims: from gluten, soy, dairy, wheat, and sugar, to GMOs, hormones, antibiotics and artificial colors.  The surge in organics (US Organic sales reached a new record of over $43 billion in 2015), plant based and “meatless meat” are other hot examples. And Kroger’s wildly successful Free From 101 has shown high-level transparency is of huge interest for shoppers well beyond Whole Foods. While the health merits of each of these categories is of course another topic, this trend is about choosing foods free of ingredients or practices that YOU personally don’t want to or choose not to eat (or on the flipside, that you buy because you want to support).
  4. Don’t see what you love? Turn Good Food Into Good Business: The massive recalibration of the food system that’s happening now is creating a new breed of brands who are reshaping entire categories, based on products they craved but couldn’t find in the marketplace. Kara Goldin’s HINT water  has been a game changer in the beverage aisle (and online delivery model). EPIC has single handedly launched a “clean meat bar” craze. And I'm closely watching rockstar nutrition expert Mitzi Dulan's latest venture,  Simply Fuel Protein Balls.  These kinds of products not only pass nutritional muster, they are seen as having a high level of authenticity, which is something millenials crave.