Top Trends from FNCE

Earlier this week, more than 10,000 nutrition professionals and food industry executives gathered in Philadelphia for the annual Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE®) hosted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Members of the Ketchum team were on site, attending sessions, learning about new research and scouring the exhibit hall for new products and resources.


Here are our top 10 FNCE trends…

1. Plant-Based Buzzword:
It seemed like there was not a consumer packaged goods (CPG) category on the expo floor that didn’t have a plant-based product represented, with intriguing new options like plant-based tuna. Whole foods were also jumping on the buzzword, like pistachios touting “plant-based protein.”

2. Animal Meat + Plants:
Animal-based foods focused on reinforcing their nutrient-density while illustrating how they can be a vehicle for consumers to eat more produce and a gateway for other plant-based whole food options in the diet.

3. Whole Foods as Fuel:
Serving the ultra-marathoner to the weekend warrior, whole foods like honey and potatoes led with messaging and product formats that challenge on-the-go sports bars and gels, reinforcing their attributes and benefits to support optimal athletic performance and recovery.

4. Debunk the Junk:
Common myths and misconceptions about formerly taboo topics, like MSG, were addressed with visuals and catch phrases that were built to live at the intersection of social media culture and traditional fact-based communication.

5. Diversity and Cultural Competence:
For the first time in the history of FNCE®, a dedicated educational track focused on providing culturally relevant food and nutrition recommendations and topics like nutritional considerations during the fasts and feasts of the world’s major religions.

6. Functional Fortification:
Foods like cereal are traditionally fortified to reduce nutrient deficiencies, but this year the expo floor also featured products fortified with ingredients that deliver a functional benefit, like choline and DHA in dairy options for children, in anticipation of the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans’ birth to age 24 months recommendations.

7. Evolution of Low FODMAP:
First noted by Ketchum as an emerging FNCE® trend in 2016, the expo floor now has a dedicated section for low FODMAP (an acronym for highly fermentable carbohydrates that are commonly poorly absorbed and can trigger digestive discomfort) foods and resources, and both emerging and multinational CPG companies now feature Monash University’s low FODMAP logo on packaging.

8. Nutrition Intrapreneurship:
The impact of nutrition professionals working inside food companies, foodservice operations, professional sports, the government, and other for- and not-for-profit associations was celebrated, and attendees were given tangible ways to drive positive food and nutrition change within their organizations.

9. Sleep for Health and Well-being:
Starting with the opening session and continuing throughout the conference, good sleep practices and research on the relationship between sleep and health status was discussed, and sleep-supporting products, like melatonin, were promoted throughout the expo floor.

10. Looking Inward as Dietetics Professionals:
Many complex topics were covered during this year’s FNCE® sessions, some of which required attendees to challenge their own assertions, become mindful of their microaggressions, overcome their perceived sensitivities toward having difficult conversations, understand their implicit or explicit biases, and become familiar with constructs like cultural humility or cultural appropriation.

Any questions, connect with me here!

Jaime Schwartz Cohen MS, RD, is SVP, Director of Nutrition, based in Ketchum’s New York office. When she’s not consuming food and nutrition news, she’s practicing portion control to satisfy her sweet tooth and finding balance with running and yoga. Jaime was a 2014 Ketchum Global Scholar, spending time with London, Amsterdam and Brussels colleagues and continues to support Ketchum teams around the world. In 2016, she launched Ketchum’s Borderless Nutrition News, an e-newsletter reporting on insights and observations from the global nutrition community.