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'Healthy' Supermarkets, Food Waste Reduction Rank As Top Trends for 2016

Vegetables will earn a more prominent seat at the table in 2016, rejected produce will find new life, and fat will look good again, according to the top trends predicted for the new year by the Specialty Food Association (SFA).

The $109 billion specialty food industry is driven by innovation and small-batch production. Fifty percent of consumers purchase specialty food and those numbers are expected to rise in 2016, according to SFA research.

"Health and convenience come across loud and clear in 2016's trend forecast," says Denise Purcell, SFA's head of content. "Consumers gravitate toward simpler foods and beverages, often sustainable and local, and they respond to products and new store formats that make their lives easier. But, while they may want their food simpler, they don't want it boring. There's always room for indulgence and new taste adventures."

Among SFA's top predictions:

Vegetables Take Root 
Vegetables are getting new respect, and will crop up more in teas, yogurts, and ice-cream. Seaweed is set to soar.

Fresh Florals
Flower power will be evident in chocolate, cheese, snack foods, carbonated water, and an expanding variety of teas.

Food Waste Face-Off
Food retailers, foodservice establishments and food makers will looking for more creative solutions to combat food waste.

Local Love
Locally sourced meats, seafood and produce will continue to attract attention from consumers who demand to know where their food comes from.

Fungi Frenzy
The humble mushroom is now at the intersection of several trends — vegetables, umami and foraging.

Snack Appeal
Snacks have new status as healthy options for meal replacements that appeal to solo diners, busy parents and even their kids.

Fat is Back
Full-fat products once deemed forbidden are back in style from milk to butter to red meat.

Convenient Shifts
Food retailers large and small are testing new strategies to lure in consumers who are looking for the best in their food and willing to pay.

Supermarkets for Super Health
Expect more supermarkets touting themselves as wellness centers with dieticians on staff, blood sugar testing, and nutrition classes.

The Latin Kitchen
From bottled gazpacho to renewed relations with Cuba, Latin American cuisine is gaining fans from food halls to high-end eateries.

Other trends to watch, per SFA, are:

  • The next superfood: moringa 
  • The new kale: broccoli leaves
  • The latest alternative grain: millet
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