Feb 06, 2014 • By

Top 10 global food trends

There’s something exciting about a new year and the possibilities ahead. At General Mills, we are especially inspired by the latest food trends.

The company’s Global Consumer Insights (GCI) group just released its annual list of Top 10 Global Food Trends. Among the highlights, the 2014 list shows people are hungry for healthier snacks that double as mini-meals, more non-meat based protein and spicy flavors added to typically sweet treats.

Keith Albright, manager for GCI, was most surprised by the shift from pure health foods to wellness foods.

“With pure health, you have the absence of negatives or the benefit of additions,” says Keith. “The mindset shift to wellness shows consumers are recalibrating what “health” really means. The wellness foods trend is a real indicator that consumers are ready to embrace simple food – foods they can see and recognize with simple ingredients.”


The Trends Team within GCI studies trend information from multiple industry experts to come up with its Top 10 list and drives awareness of the findings across the company.

The information is distributed with a couple things in mind. One is timing. The list is launched at the beginning of the year since trends are forward-looking. The other is pairing. The Trends Team likes to pair the Top 10 release with other attention-getting events such as the release of The 28th Annual Report on Eating Patterns in America.

Keith believes that when the people who work within our brands are aware of the latest trends, they can listen better to consumers.

“Trends really is about making sure we’re staying true to the broadest of issues. Ideas flourish when you have a tailwind that a strong trend can supply,” explains Keith. “If a team is working on an idea and it doesn’t tie back to a trend on the list, suddenly they’re faced with headwind instead.”

He  says that from the Trend Team’s perspective, our mission of Nourishing Lives is all about solving consumer problems.

“Simply, how can we help them? The list helps identify where consumers are seeking help.”

Here are the GCI group’s 2014 Top 10 Global Food Trends:

Snack Mania

Expect increased interest in healthier and “better-for-you” snack options that are convenient and easy-to-eat.

Wellness Foods

Instead of seeing food as functional for health, consumer mindsets are shifting to see food as a tool for wellness.

Protein Obsession

Health benefits will drive demand for protein, while desire for cultural diversity will shift demand from traditional meats to exotic meats, egg dishes and more vegetarian alternatives.

Turn Up the Heat

Flavors get bigger and bolder as once exotic taste profiles have become ordinary flavors. Look for heat and spice in new categories including yogurt, ice cream, chocolate, soft drinks and more.

Love for Local

Expect greater food transparency, visible food footprints, more sustainability initiatives and increased interest in animal welfare.

Sugar Crash

Some consumers are turning away from chemical-based artificial sweeteners and turning to plant-based sweeteners including stevia, monk fruit and honey.

Back to the Future for Health

Expect ancient grains to expand from quinoa to freekeh and chia. New superfoods will include heirloom vegetables, such as parsnips and artichokes.

Good Taste, Less Waste

Food waste is a global concern. Expect to see more single-serve packs, freezable products and recyclable materials.

Food as Activity

Preparing and eating food has become a leisure-time activity.

Wheat-Free Movement

Expect to see more gluten-free labels and wheat-free/gluten-free alternatives.

Key Sources for the GCI team were: Phil Lempert, Sterling-Rice Group, Datamonitor, Technomic, New Nutrition Business, Euromonitor, The Food People and Innova.