Mahlori Isaacs Mahlori Isaacs 

The insatiable quest to unearth what’s new, different, or to be frank — determine what will sell — is what drives America’s food industry, especially the leading producers of our favorite snacks, beverages, candy and ever-changing “superfoods.” Essentially, everyone is looking for the next “Tickle Me Elmo” of food.

To better understand what makes the unique, highly nuanced and sometimes peculiar world of food tick, I present to you a five-year marriage between two organizations that, at first glance, might appear to be the most awkward, mismatched Tinder date. However, the partnership between Pollock Communications and Today’s Dietitian delivers an annual national food trend survey that gets media, consumers and food executives talking.

O'Dwyer's Mar. '17 Food & Beverage PR MagazineThis article is featured in O'Dwyer's Mar.'17 Food & Beverage PR Magazine

As a result of this fantastic-food duo’s combined powers, the fruits of their union have yielded the powerfully influential food trend survey, “What’s Trending in Nutrition.” Each year, the survey polls registered dietitians to identify and track the next significant trends in food and eating for the upcoming year. Just this year, the survey hit an all-time high by engaging more than 1,700 registered dietitians to gain access to key 2017 insights, revealing what shoppers are really thinking, what’s impacting their behaviors and what’s driving their purchases. In addition, survey results attracted major media buzz, garnering top-tier placements in USA Today, The Huffington Post, Dr. Oz the Good Life, Reader’s Digest, Redbook, Shape, Good Housekeeping and the Food Network.

But how do they get the job done?

Segue to Pollock Communications, a food, nutrition and wellness public relations agency based in Manhattan. Our team of media experts, RDs and PhDs have more than 25 years of experience analyzing food trends, securing top commodity clients and leveraging our expert food knowledge to influence the food industry, retailers, consumers and the media on behalf of notable giants such as Unilever, PepsiCo, Quaker, Dannon, Tea Council of the USA, USA Rice, The Cranberry Marketing Committee and The Cranberry Institute.

The other half of this powerhouse union is the leading nutrition trade magazine, currently in its 17th year, Today’s Dietitian. The publication is a venerated resource for RDs, as well as certified diabetes educators and dietary managers. In addition, both print and online versions of Today’s Dietitian serve as the go-to source for best practices, peer insights, trends, industry news and new science.

In tandem, our combined food credentials, paired with insider industry connections, allow us both to consistently produce data that truly matters. Together, we’ve formulated the blueprint for how to develop a food trend survey that’s transparent, compelling and useful for industry executives, as well as national and trade food, nutrition and wellness reporters.

A snapshot of today’s trends for 2017

This year, survey results outlined a decline in consumer interest in dieting. Alternatively, many are choosing clean and mindful eating as their path to healthier living. Furthermore, interest in certain “hot button” food issues that drive purchases are on the decline. Of note, in contrast to previous years, RDs assert that consumers will be less concerned with food trends such as gluten-free, GMO-free and sustainability. Instead, interest in sugar-free food is on the rise, which is likely a result of the “sugar wars” in the media and among policymakers.  

Meanwhile, ancient grains are still a favorite; fermented foods like yogurt and cheese gain favor; green tea continues to sit comfortably on the list; and interest in nuts and seeds is a major top trend. And for the first time, salmon makes a showing (but RDs say, don’t call it a comeback).  

When it comes to the other superfood trends in 2017, kale took a hit. The once shining star of superfoods lost some footing, and it continues to move down the list in comparison to previous years. Even though kale is down a few notches, there are still some other great superfood trends to look forward to this year. According to the latest “What’s Trending in Nutrition” survey, the Top 10 Superfoods for 2017 will be: seeds, like chia and hemp; avocado; nuts, like almonds and walnuts; fermented foods, like yogurt; ancient grains; kale; green tea; coconut products; exotic fruits; and salmon.

Why should marketers care?

Marketers should care because the leadership and marketing teams at influential companies are already leveraging the “What’s Trending in Nutrition” data to craft their strategic consumer marketing plans. This is primarily attributed to the countless registered dietitians who continuously share their expert perspective of what consumers are thinking and doing.

Overall, RD insights grant industry and health professionals with an unrivaled, front-row seat and unprecedented access to an expansive sample of the American population. This very same sample also includes respondents with diverse cultural backgrounds, who represent and work with rural and urban regions, making their insights exponentially more valuable to many marketers.

So, don’t get left behind, and make sure you’re either in contact with, or at the very least are on the distribution list to receive, the next big insider insights as to what will be trending in nutrition and food in 2018.

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Mahlori Isaacs is Vice President and Director of Media at Pollock Communications.