Trends, Foresights, & Insights: Never Miss, or Misread a Trend Again

The Wizard of Lightbulb Moments

The Wizard is constantly scanning industry news to maintain our trend forward stance. These “Lightbulb Moments” are quick insights on critical shifts in trends, research, and other happenings impacting food and beverage companies.

COVID-19 Breaks Into Theme Park …Gets Himself Arrested


Ronald sits handcuffed to a desk. Sweat collects on his upper lip as he looks around the room for a landmark. His eyes come to rest on a mirror across the room. Two-way … obviously. He shifts uncomfortably on the hard wooden chair beneath him and watches the only door to the room, listening for footsteps.

A disarming man of about fifty enters and sits down across from him. The man shuffles some papers and clicks a pen open.

MONROE (bluntly): Hello Ronald, I am Lieutenant Monroe. I hear you have a story to tell. I’d like to hear that story. But first, let’s talk about why you are here. It seems you were apprehended at Disney World after what appears to be a 3-day, umm, adventure, where your intention was to inflict as much devastation as possible. From our investigation so far, you were unsuccessful. But what I want to know is how did you get in and what stopped you from succeeding?

More alternative meat products are launching as manufacturers hope to capitalize on consumer demand to cut meat for health and environmental reasons

However, the body, which advises policy makers and on bioethics, said more evidence is needed to determine if meat alternatives really are more sustainable and healthier than conventional meat in the long-term. Some meat alternatives offer health benefits over conventional meat, such as providing fiber and less cholesterol.  However, these products are usually highly processed and can contain the same amount of calories and saturated fat as beef burgers, and high levels of sodium.


Lightbulb Moment: Meat eaters are consuming these faux meats, not vegetarians.  So how long do you think meat eaters will pay more for items with a longer ingredient dec and more processing steps than meat? That will set when you downsize or exit the faux meat trends.

Want to keep up with plant protein?   Schedule a Capabilities meeting with us and see what we can do for you.

Animal Proteins Still Remain Essential Ingredients

Plant-based protein sources are getting all the love these days. However, the data show that animal proteins still dominate.  A 2018 study by The NPD Group showed 14% of U.S.  consumers regularly use plant-based proteins in their diets, which means 86% evidently rely primarily on animal proteins instead.  The bottom line is that animal proteins provide a variety of functional benefits for commercial food processors, not to mention nutritional and economic benefits.  Plant-based hamburgers are in the headlines, but real meat still has the upper hand in many applications.  For simplicity, it can’t be beat – one ingredient versus 21 ingredients in an Impossible Burger.  Beef also contains a wide variety of nutrients that are needed for good health.  These include carnosine, an amino acid that reduces the harm of a process called glycation, which is related to aging diseases; numerous minerals, such as iron, potassium and selenium; and a range of B vitamins.


Lightbulb Moment: You have to decide, as a meat eater (because it isn’t vegetarians eating these faux meats) are your clients in Camp “I want to eat simply” or Camp “I want to avoid meat and I don’t care about the complex ingredient dec or processing”. 

Want to keep up with the plant protein trend and research behind them?  Schedule a Capabilities meeting with us and see what we can do for you.

Mediterranean diet ranked best; keto near bottom of list

US News & World Report’s list of the best diets for 2020 ranked the Mediterranean diet first for the third straight year, while the keto diet came in next to last among the 35 plans considered.  The DASH diet is often recommended to lower blood pressure.  Its premise is simple: Eat more veggies, fruits and low-fat dairy foods while cutting way back on any food high in saturated fat, and limit your intake of salt.  The MIND diet is a combination of the Mediterranean and DASH diets that some may find a bit easier to follow, as it requires less fish and fruit.  The trendy keto diet came in next to last in the ranking of 35 diets, just ahead of the obscure Dukan diet.  Both diets aim for “ketosis,” a metabolic state that burns the body’s stores of fat instead of carbohydrates, the body’s natural source of energy.  Due to the drastic cut in carbs, the diet can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness and fatigue, particularly in the beginning.  Long-term studies on its effectiveness are lacking. 


Lightbulb Moment: You know why they are spot on every year? Because they consult Registered Dietitians.  Hurrah to DASH, Mediterranean, and MIND.  I challenge the industry to make money on those 3…I’ll wait.

Want to keep up with diet trends and the clinical health research behind them? Schedule a Capabilities meeting with us and see what we can do for you.

The Worst Diets That You’ll Want to Avoid in 2020

According to Nutritionists  1) The HCG Diet 4) The Keto Diet 7) Juice Cleanses 10) The Alkaline Diet 11) Whole30 19) The Dukan Diet 21) The Atkins diet 22) Meal Replacement Shakes 23) Paleo Diet 25) Raw Food Diet


Lightbulb Moment: This post is super short because if you get me (as a registered dietitian) started on what is wrong with these diets, and why I agree with this article, we will be here all day.  Before engaging a trend, be fully versed in what it represents.

Want to keep up with diet trends and the clinical health research behind them? Schedule a Capabilities meeting with us and see what we can do for you.

Test reveals unreliability of facial recognition tech

A test by artificial intelligence firm Kneron revealed that 3D masks and photos can be used to fool facial recognition systems like those used by payment systems and airports.  “This shows the threat to the privacy of users with sub-par facial recognition that is masquerading as ‘AI,'” Kneron CEO Albert Liu said.  Masks and simple photographs are enough to fool some facial recognition technology, highlighting a major shortcoming in what is billed as a more effective security tool.  The test, by artificial intelligence company Kneron, involved visiting public locations and tricking facial recognition terminals into allowing payment or access.  Those systems, which resemble the ones seen in airports, use a person’s face rather than a PIN or a fingerprint to validate user’s identity.  Such masks, in theory, could allow fraudsters to use another person’s face—and bank account—to go shopping.  More alarming were the tests deployed at transportation hubs.  At the self-boarding terminal in Schiphol Airport, the Netherlands’ largest airport, the Kneron team tricked the sensor with just a photo on a phone screen.  The team also says it was able to gain access in this way to rail stations in China where commuters use facial recognition to pay their fare and board trains.


Lightbulb Moment: Learn about the limitation of AI and don’t be a blind follower.  In consumer research, AI has a huge “creep factor”.  AI can reinterpret the past but not actually predict the future.  Careful where you put your strategy eggs, don’t bank on a brittle technology.

Want to keep up with AI and the research behind it?   Schedule a Capabilities meeting with us and see what we can do for you.

Coalition pushes for ‘low-carb’ diet to be added to 2020 Dietary Guidelines

A coalition of doctors, academics, and American consumers called the Low-Carb Action Network (LCAN) is urging US nutrition leaders to include a low-carb diet as part of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA).  The newly-formed group of low-carb diet advocates pointed to a “large and growing body of scientific research” that demonstrates how carbohydrate restriction is a safe and effective dietary strategy to prevent “and even reverse” chronic diet-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure.


Lightbulb Moment: What is concerning about this group is that they are NOT made up of Registered Dietitians!  There is no reason a low carb diet should be part of the Dietary Guidelines.  Low carb diets are for diabetics, who are NOT the general public.  This is a push for ignorance backed by bad science.  And this time they want to make the government help villainize carbs.  Stand up for true science!

Want to keep up with diet trends and the clinical health research behind them?   Schedule a Capabilities meeting with us and see what we can do for you.

Taco Bell has developed a meat substitute that looks and tastes like ground beef

Taco Bell, which has yet to jump on the plant-based protein trend, has developed two meatless menu items for international consumers including a Crunchy Taco filled with “meat” made of pulled oats and legumes. The meatless plant-based ingredient, which looks and tastes like ground beef, is seasoned with Taco Bell’s proprietary spices. The taco is topped with shredded lettuce, cheese and creamy chipotle sauce. Over the past week, the so-called Oatrageous Taco became a permanent item in Spain after first testing in Finland. It will land on European menus in summer 2020. The meatless menu offerings come as Taco Bell restaurants in the U.S. have avoided partnering with plant-based leaders such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat.


Lightbulb Moment: Love the fact that Taco Bell created their own simpler meatless offering made from oats and legumes.  What is the ingredient dec? When will it hit the USA? Holding our breath!

Want to keep up with competitor product launches?   Schedule a Capabilities meeting with us and see what we can do for you.

Sprouts Whole30 Shopping List to help New Year’s resolutioners

Sprouts Farmers Market has published a Whole30 Shopping List for those who want to reset their health, habits, and relationship with food by participating in the January Whole30.   “Think of the Whole30 like pushing the reset button for your health, habits and relationship with food,” said Whole30 Co-Founder Melissa Urban. “Our short-term elimination program helps you identify foods that may be having a sneaky negative impact on your energy, sleep, digestion, mental health, cravings, allergies, or joint pain, and use what you learn to create the perfect sustainable diet for you…”  Those interested in Whole30 can learn more about the program at six store events — in Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas San Diego and West Hollywood, CA. The first 100 customers will receive a free copy of New York Times bestseller.


Lightbulb Moment: Does Sprouts understand that the Whole30 diet vilifies key food groups and thus excludes vital nutrients from the diet? Did they know diets such as these are not sustainable and do not often result in long term successful weight loss?  The diet, in fact, eliminates foods that Sprouts sells – so, in fact, is encouraging customers not to buy products they stock.  Maybe they didn’t know.

Want to keep up with diet trends and the clinical health research behind them?   Schedule a Capabilities meeting with us and see what we can do for you.

Time-restricted eating slashes weight and blood pressure in people with metabolic syndrome, finds study

Limiting food consumption to a ten-hour window each day can lead to weight loss, lower blood pressure and more stable insulin levels. This is according to a pilot study from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, which found that time-restricted eating – a form of intermittent fasting – improved the health of participants who had been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.


Lightbulb Moment: Intermittent Fasting is not as flashy as Paleo or Keto, but it is far safer, more sustainable, and produces longer-term weight loss that sticks. It also doesn’t vilify any food or food groups.

Want to keep up with diet trends and the clinical health research behind them? Schedule a Capabilities meeting with us and see what we can do for you.