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Fruits and veggies step up to the plate in food trends for 2016

Research firms, restaurant and hospitality consultants and others tasked with predicting and following food trends are acknowledging the surge in fruit and vegetable consumption, along with the reduction in the amount of meat protein being consumed. The increased use of fresh produce, especially specialty items, is said to be trending strongly in 2016.P1040597Big luscious beets, a powerhouse of nutrition.

Baum + Whiteman, international food and restaurant consultants, headquartered in Brooklyn, NY, lists “Vegetables Step Up to the Plate” as number four on its list of the “11 Hottest Food & Beverage Dining Trends in Restaurants and Hotels, 2016.”

The report states that we’ve reached a tipping point for vegetables, and they are pushing animal protein to the side of the plate, or entirely off it.

Relentlessly rising beef prices, horror over hormones, a scramble for ever-more antioxidants, health-and-diet concerns, growth of farmers markets, locavore drummers and increasing numbers of flexitarians have combined to result in what will be a great year for fresh produce.

The report adds that it is beneficial that vegetables are more seasonal than animals, adding menu excitement for restaurants recognizing that buying seasonally reduces food costs and keeps menus fresh.

The transforming idea is that veg-forward restaurants no longer sell food tasting like punishment. They're serving great meals composed mostly — or entirely — of vegetables that are great to look at, satisfyingly memorable and compatible with wine.

Global Food Forums Inc. offers unique, practical information for use in the development of food, beverage and nutritional products. It compiles consumer and product trend data, and regulatory and nutrition information from a plethora of resources on applied food science and technology.

It credits Alexandra Duron at The Thrillist with its list of hot 2016 food trends, which includes the continued increase in the consumption of berries. Although it finger-points to black raspberries as having three times the amount of antioxidants than its red raspberry cousin, it acknowledges that berries in general are chock-full of them.

Whole Foods Market’s product experts also include fresh produce in its top 10 food trends for this year. The company says that heirloom ingredients are making a comeback, and that plants are playing a meatier role in a surprising number of products, and not just for vegan and vegetarian alternatives.

The magazine Today’s Dietitian surveyed several nutrition experts to determine what products and categories will be the most popular this year. It noted beets, especially juiced, as a good thing because they are rich in betalains, antioxidant compounds folate and fiber, and the minerals manganese, potassium, copper and magnesium.

Comax 2016 Flavor Trends also highlight the produce aisle. Its 2016 flavor trend report states that as part of the health and wellness lifestyle trend, consumers are looking for natural, less-processed, better-for-you products. Naturally, consumers are gravitating toward green vegetables and fruits, putting them in the limelight. Flavors in this group include avocado, pear, broccoflower and green jackfruit.

And Innova Market Insights’ Top Ten Trends for 2016 includes a green light for vegetables. It states that consumers know that they need to eat more greens, but shy away because of taste expectations. Children can be encouraged to eat more through hidden vegetable products, while the rise of fusion smoothies and high vegetable pastas indicates that adults can also be encouraged to increase their intake.

With health and nutrition on everyone’s trend list for 2016, the stars are nicely aligned for increased consumption of specialty fruits and vegetables.