2018 is predicted to bring new and unusual, but tasty, snacks and beverages to Chicago. According to Denise Purcell, head of content for the Specialty Food Association, “Macro trends like sustainability and health are converging in the 2018 [food] trends.” This combination will create food trends including more plant-based foods, upcycled edible products, and healthy alternative sweeteners.
Gone are the days when plant-based foods were only found in out of the way health food stores. Today, plant-based options are endless and can be found everywhere from the local grocery store to the office break room vending machine. Chicago consumers are likely to find a wide variety of plant-based options including dairy-free milk products such as cheese or yogurt; frozen desserts such as ice cream or whipped topping; and convenience foods such as crackers, cereals, cookies, bean chips, premade burritos, and protein bars. Below are a few of the plant ingredients found in healthy snacks and beverages that consumers will enjoy more of in 2018.
- dairy-free alternatives: almonds, coconuts, cashews, soy, and rice
- pulses: beans, lentils, chickpeas, and peas
- vegetables: beets, sweet potatoes, kale, tomatoes, and corn
- ancient grains: quinoa, spelt, amaranth, kamut, and farro
- protein-rich seeds: hemp, chia, and flax
Forty percent of the food produced in the United States is thrown away each year. That is equivalent to $165 billion of food. Upcycled dishes have already made appearances in home kitchens and restaurants. As Chicago consumers develop a better understanding of this problem, prepackaged upcycled products made from ingredients and scraps that would have otherwise been discarded, will increase in availability. Several snacks and beverages that are already available include
- pressed juice made from imperfect fruit
- chips made from fruit pulp
- snack bars made from spent grain from the beer making process
- condiments including chutney and chilis made from ugly produce
- hot-on-the-go oatmeal made with the coffee fruit
Sugar. Many Chicago consumers have a love-hate relationship with it. It’s tasty, but too much of it can cause health issues. To be able to enjoy something sweet and be mindful of their health, consumers are looking for natural, alternative sweeteners that have a lower glycemic impact, fewer added sugar calories, and a sustainable footprint. The following are a few lesser known fruits that make deliciously sweet syrups and can be found in a variety of snacks and beverages.
- dates: the fruit of the date palm tree that becomes a thick molasses-like syrup with a rich, sweet flavor
- monk fruit: a fruit native to southern China and northern Thailand that has a flavor similar to traditional sugar
- agave: a cactus plant from Mexico and the Southwestern United States that has a flavor similar but milder than honey
- lucuma: a Peruvian fruit with a maple-like taste
- yacon: a South American tuber that tastes like an apple, but has a maple-like flavor when it is a syrup
Have your Chicago employees started looking for snacks and beverages that are healthier or better for the planet? Whether they want a mix of traditional and healthy choices or just an afternoon coffee pick-me-up, Mark Vend can help. Call us at (847) 291-9216 for more information about vending machines, micro-markets, and a variety of other vending options.