2020 Food Predictions

top down view of hands reaching for dinner

Forecasters have already begun to predict the major trends that will impact the manufacture, sale and consumer purchasing of food in 2020. 

The biggest news comes from the 10th annual edition of Canada’s Food Price Report, which anticipates prices to increase by 2-4% in 2020. With the annual food cost for the average Canadian family expected to rise to an annual cost of $12,667, an increase of $487 from 2019. The greatest increases will occur in the meat category, where tariffs and trade-deals are expected to cause a 4-6% increase.

Good-bye Single-Use Plastics (SUPs)

As Canada moves towards the elimination of SUPs, Canadians are firmly on-board. A study by Dalhousie University found that 94% of those surveyed had a strong personal motivation to reduce consumption. Consumers are no longer satisfied with the prospect of recycling food-based packaging. 

Shoppers are embracing stores that offer bulk bins and those that permit consumers to use their own containers, but want to see more options. With this increasing awareness of the global climate crisis and the impact of single-use plastics consumers will continue to push manufacturers and retailers to develop more sustainable and green-packaging for food products. 

Grocers like Loblaws will be piloting trial programs with TerraCycle’s Loop initiative. The program offers a circular packaging solution where containers are re-used repeatedly. Sobeys will eliminate plastic grocery bags completely. Retailers may also look towards innovative compostable bags rather than clam-shell plastic for produce and other goods. 

Unfortunately, these innovations come at a cost and many consumers are not willing to pay more for alternative packaging. The challenge for retailers will be how to embrace more environmentally-friendly methodologies without jeopardizing their commitment to quality, product safety and their bottom line. 


Keto: The Next “Gluten-Free”?

In 2020, Canadians will continue to focus on nutrition, by opting for plant-based proteins, organic and “functional foods” such as those including probiotics. 

2019 was the year of the Keto diet and in 2020 these foods will continue to be on-trend. A recent poll conducted by Dalhousie University found that 26% of Canadians adopted, tried or considered trying keto during the past 18 months. Ketogenic-friendly products are entering the market in exponential numbers, and the market is forecasted to grow by about 5.5% per year reaching $15.6 billion USD in 2027. 

The popular diet dramatically reduces carbohydrate consumption while increasing intake of “good fats” and protein. Combined with intermittent fasting, the diet claims to provide a number of health benefits in addition to quick weight loss. The careful balancing of macro-nutrients and exclusion of healthy food items such as most whole grains, fruits and vegetables make it a difficult diet to sustain long-term.

Curious consumers may be trending instead towards products marketed as “Slow-carb” as a means of integrating “keto-friendly” products into a less restrictive diet. Traditional carbohydrates can cause quick spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels. “Slow-carb” foods, by comparison, have a reduced impact on blood sugar and insulin levels and don’t cause the same spikes and surges. Many keto foods entering the market are now including a GI, or Glycemic Index number. This number corresponds to the impact on blood sugar after consumption, with lower numbers indicating a “slower” burn.

Trend-forecasters anticipate that Keto-friendly products, both those aimed at those following the strict regimen and those utilizing the more accessible slow-carb model, will continue to grow in demand. This trend looks like it may linger for years to come. Retailers should consider devoting shelf-space to these products and embracing these healthy foods as part of the mainstream. 



Are Consumers Outsourcing Their Connections to Food?

sunset over wheat field

We exist in a culture that celebrates being busy — prizing hours logged at the office or school, as well as juggling extracurriculars, hobbies and appointments. In all that hustle and bustle, we tend to sacrifice our relationship with food. Technology, services and products that promise to turn chores like grocery shopping, meal prep and cooking into simpler, quicker and more enjoyable activities are being readily embraced by consumers. Busy individuals have options like meal kits filled with pre-measured ingredients and recipe cards, online grocery shopping with either “click and collect” or delivery options, along with countless take-out delivery service providers to choose from. Even larger grocery retailers such as Longos, Metro and Loblaws are now offering meal kits and “click and collect” services to entice shoppers with the promise of saving time.

A 2018 study by Dalhousie University explored Canadian interest in these types of services and found that almost half of those surveyed did not subscribe to a meal kit service (and didn’t intend to), nor did they intend to purchase their food online  —  yet despite intentions, the number of people using on-the-go food services is rapidly rising. Many retailers are offering attractive incentives to encourage consumers to try these offerings — loyalty points, discounts and freebies — in the hopes of keeping customers from ordering from services like Uber Eats or Door Dash.

What do these trends really tell us about the relationship between consumers and the food they purchase? Will the shortcuts offered by boxed meal services discourage people from learning how to plan meals, shop for ingredients, do the prep work and essentially cook “from scratch”? Or might they serve as an introduction to culinary adventures, inspire food curiosity and minimize the inhibitions surrounding cooking?

Some argue that these conveniences may create a larger disconnect between the customer and the food industry resulting in something called “agricultural illiteracy,” and in an age of post-production, this illiteracy is growing. The Washington Post reported, “Today many [people] only experience food as an industrial product that doesn’t much look like the original animal or plant.” Agricultural facts known to every human on earth in the past, are being left behind. In fact, 16 million American adults believe chocolate milk comes from brown cows while 40% of 4th to 6th graders didn’t know that hamburger comes from cows.

Perhaps brands should focus on narrating the journey from farm to table like Without rekindling our relationship between food and farm, the gap between the food we eat and the way it is made will only grow.



Canadian Thanksgiving Traditions are Shifting

Time’s and traditions have changed, and the Canadian Thanksgiving table reflects that.

Gone are the days of the traditional meat and potatoes meal cooked by Mother for her nuclear family. The Turkey Farmers of Canada brought this new normal to light as they reimagined Norman Rockwell’s classic painting “Freedom from Want,” to reflect a more contemporary Canada (see below).

Thanksgiving has transitioned from a faith-based holiday to a time of gratitude for all that we have here in Canada. “Since Thanksgiving really is a holiday for all, the goal with these portraits is to welcome all Canadians of all ages and cultures to the tradition of the Thanksgiving turkey feast,” says Turkey Farmers of Canada representative Craig Evans.

Thanksgiving, along with Christmas, is still the leading contributor to Turkey sales accounting for 74% year-round. However, just over one in every four families (28%) bought a bird for Thanksgiving in 2018, indicating a shift away from the traditional that reflects what we’ve been seeing across the food industry as a whole. For Canadians, both the menu and the people have changed since Rockwell’s painting 75 years ago.

So what exactly are we seeing at the table this year?

  1. Everyone is pitching in. Pot luck has become a new norm. With each attendee arriving with a different dish, the holiday dinner now includes dietary or allergy considerations and focuses on quality over quantity.
  2. Find the standard turkey, potatoes, stuffing, rolls and canned cranberries a bit blasé? Diversity is coming to what’s on the table along with who is at it. Whether it’s allowing the vegetable sides to shine or going so far as to cook a Tofurky. With 1 in every 10 Canadians being vegetarian or vegan as of 2018 it’s likely someone at your feast is looking for an alternative.
  3. Pumpkin is for more than just pie (and lattes). This year there are more pumpkin recipes than ever before, including pasta, soup, chili, quiche, salad, you name it.

That being said, the turkey should still not be overlooked. Canadians shelled out $2.2 million dollars for their Thanksgiving turkeys in 2018, and predictions expect 2019’s numbers were very close.

For the Canadian food industry, Thanksgiving in 2019 is about making a seat at the table for everyone, and space on the table for everything.

Freedom from Want – Norman Rockwell – 1943
The re-imagined Canadian Thanksgiving by Turkey Farmers of Canada

How Millennials are Disrupting the Food Industry

millennials taking photos of food

We are living and eating in a millennial world.

Thanks to the largest consumer demographic (those born in the early 1980s to 2004) we have seen major shifts in the way food is ordered, prepped, and consumed over the last few years.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the biggest cuisine trends on the rise, all have one thing in common – food accessibility has moved online.

Easy at Home

Millennials are finishing up their degrees and diplomas and entering the workforce with an appetite to get ahead. Their time is precious, and they want dinner on the table without all the preparation before and the mess after. A 2017 Food and Health Survey determined that 55% of millennial shoppers opt for convenience in determining what’s on their plate. Enter, the rise of delivery meal kits, groceries and takeout. All ordered with a couple of clicks on that extension of the hand, known as a smartphone.

Shareable Food

You don’t need to break bread around the table to share a meal with friends anymore. You can simply snap a picture and post it to your story, but it needs to look good. With millions of food pictures being shared each day, if a product is easy to Instagram it’s going to be cooked, clicked and maybe even actually consumed by the millennial crowd. Worth noting that this is also how this generation is finding the food they consume, so food providers are wise to put themselves and their product in front of the lens, maybe with a catchy hashtag attached. 

Conscious Consumption

 Those that make up this demographic are getting married and starting families and are concerned about the world they are leaving for the next generation. Choice making goes beyond reading the list of ingredients, to looking for key words such as organic, sustainable, and locally sourced. This generation of shopper wants to know not just the products impact on their body, but also on the land and animals. The rise of documentaries and series to binge on Netflix is an undeniable force driving this shift. The consumer knows more, so they want to do more with what they decide to eat and drink. Canada’s government recognized this shift this past Summer by making a number of alterations to the Food Guide

Snack Attack

The on-the-go 18 to 30 something is eating more than 3 meals a day. In fact, snacking now accounts for 50% of all eating. It’s simply more convenient to eat on the go, between appointments, or while multitasking. Snacking itself has changed from junk food to healthy alternatives. Snackers are reaching for fresh fruits and vegetables, healthier options and smaller portions, more frequently. Snackers are grabbing up convenience that is ready at their fingertips to pack and get going again.

To keep up with the times, food brands need to revisit some of the traditional methods that have “always worked.” Make it easy, make it accessible, make it post-worthy, make it sustainable. Make it millennial. 

The Beyond Meat Craze & the Future of Food

beyond meat packaging


Beyond Meat is on everyone’s lips these days, and we don’t just mean literally. Since last year when they signed a deal with burger chain A&W, Beyond Meat has exploded in the Canadian Market. Initially, A&W was flooded with such high demands from their product, nearly every location sold out within 24 hours. Most recently, Tim Horton’s partnered with the plant-based product to roll out three new sandwiches using the product. 


While Beyond Meat initially focused on getting their product into 27,000+ restaurants globally, they’ve turned their attention to B2C. Major grocery chains like Loblaws, Whole Foods, Metro and Sobeys now carry the plant-based patty and continues to find themselves sold-out.


But Beyond Meat isn’t the only company tapping into the “plant-based” craze. Using the term plant-based has opened up the market from consumers who aren’t “vegetarian” but are exploring the “plant-based” meat options. Plant-based seems to invoke less commitment from consumers while achieving the same result.  Market research estimates that the market for meat alternative has doubled in the last 5 years.


With plant-based alternatives popping up everywhere and a global shift towards ethical, environmental responsibility, it looks like “plant-based” is here to stay.


5 Grocery Trends on the Rise for Summer 2019

bright beautiful food display

Canadian food trends for last summer included fried chicken, meal kits, mushrooms and super lattes. Here are some of the major hits so far this year:

Plant-Based Cuisine

With environmental concerns rising, sustainable diets are at an all-time high. The 2019 Food Guide simply reinforced a trend already rising, pushing vegetables from the sidelines into the main course. This isn’t going away anytime soon.

Instagrammable Foods

Foods that taste good and look cool are on the rise. From colour-changing cocktails to foods that “un-box” well, consumers are sharing more than ever, and if it’s interesting and fun, people are buying. 


More and more consumers are interested in where their food is coming from and what that journey looks like. The demand for transparency is at an all-time high as people born between 1990 and 2004 are growing more and more eco-conscious 

Food Delivery

Three years ago Uber Eats had zero clients and right now 76 million people use the app at least once a month. With less time and more demands to get ahead of rising living costs, people are spending far more time at their desks or working on side projects outside of their regular nine to five job, and less time cooking or shopping for food.

Labour Saving Innovation

90% of restaurant operating costs are associated with labour. Consequentially, innovators are looking for ways to reduce the need for bodies with cooking technology. But it doesn’t stop there. Individuals and families are also excited about new, easy-to-use devices such as the Instant Pot. 

Banning Single-use Plastic in Canada

illustration of pollution entering the ocean

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced this June that Canada plans to ban single-use plastics as early as 2021. “We need to cover all of Canada with this decision,” he said.

But what falls under this ban? Single-use plastic is exactly what it sounds like: anything that is not designed to be reused. That can go from anything like cotton swabs, drink stirs or stoppers, plates, fast food containers and of course, the containers we pack food into for distribution. 

Accelerating demand for responsible, sustainable behaviours are transforming the food industry, restaurants to fulfilment centres. More and more people are choosing products that adhere to ethical standards. Horizon Media reports 81% of millennials expect corporations to make public commitments to environmental efforts, and are willing to spend a little more to better the planet. Those in the food distribution industry need to look closely and carefully at alternative packaging methods. 

Another driver is government mandates. Canada is not the first country to ban single-use plastic. According to a U.N. report, 127 countries had implemented some type of policy regulating plastic bags by July 2018, and many more are in the works. This year, Vancouver banned plastic straw and polystyrene foam cups and containers – so the need for sustainable packaging solutions is in high demand.

By looking for solutions now, food brands can get ahead of the curve on two levels:

  1. By taking action while environmental sustainability is still optional, the brand aligns itself with forward-thinking, ethical practice. This will boost sales with millennials and generate brand loyalty.
  2. Ensure the brand is not left with tons of product they can no longer sell.

By taking steps now, the food industry can make a productive step for their businesses and the planet, moving forward without disrupting operations with short timelines.

Building Brand Loyalty with Mental Health Conversations

woman holding healthy nutritious food

North America’s drive to have it all, may be costing us more than we realize. In a culture prioritizing hustle over balance, ambition over happiness, and hard work over quality of life, mental health is at an overall decline. Time is a commodity no one can afford – and with less time spent on our health comes more complications for our bodies and minds. 

 The old saying “you are what you eat” has never been more relevant than it is today. Consider the following:

  • Most North American’s eat out 4-5 times a week
  • Many of us eat fast food because we don’t have time to find or make good food
  • Healthy food costs more than junk food

Kelly Matheson of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health of Canada says: “People are now realizing there is not only a psychological connection but a biochemical and physical connection between what we eat, the way it makes us feel and our mental health.”

A recent article by the Harvard Health maps patterns between traditional foods and diets such as Mediterranean or Japenese, and those popular in commercialized western cities likes burgers and pizza. The primary difference in the two diets was found in amounts of fruits, vegetables, and unprocessed grains. The results? Depression and anxiety dropped by nearly 35% in people who ate traditional foods. 

But it is not just science paying attention to mental health. Marketers are jumping on the bandwagon too by aligning their brands with mental health causes, getting in on the conversation first launched by Bell Let’s Talk five years ago. Just last week Burger King launched a new campaign called #FeelYourWay aimed at normalizing depression in what appears to be retaliation towards McDonald’s Happy Meals. 

As mental health issues continue to rise in North America, Canadians can expect brands to market products around their potential mental health benefits as well as their nutritional ones.

Canadian Food is Changing: the evolution of the Canadian Food Guide

fresh food

Canada’s Food Guide was born in 1942. At the time, its focus was on improving the health of Canadians and preventing nutritional deficiencies, while citizens were subject to wartime food rationing protocols. Since then, the food guide has transformed many times but its primary focus remains the same: helping Canadians stay on top of their health. 

The Canadian Food Guide comes up with their suggested intake through scientific and nutritional research, medical experts and welfare workers. The guide serves as a general outline for the average Canadian – but individual needs may vary. Its intention is to help foster conversations around healthy food intake and educate the general public on what constitutes a “healthy” diet. 

One of the biggest commitments towards Canadian Health was implemented by the FDA on January 1, 2017: all major foodservice chains are now required to post the calorie counts of food and drink items for sale. Initially, many Canadians were shocked by the numbers listed on their favourite foods and beverages, but once that wore off – restaurant owners found that it actually helped build trust between consumers and service providers. It also forced fast food providers to rethink the meals they provided. More and more healthy, low-calorie and low-fat meals started popping up on menus across the board. 

It’s been 12 years since the last revision of Canada’s Food Guide – and the contents of which have proved to be fairly controversial. It uses an actual plate instead of traditional “servings”, and talks about our relationship to food as opposed to simply regurgitating research. The official recommendation encourages:

New Canada Food Guide Image


  • Fruits and Vegetables (sweet potato, tomatoes, spinach, strawberries, apples, etc)
  • Protein Foods (nuts, beans, meat, fish, eggs)
  • Whole Grain Foods (pasta, rice, quinoa, bread)
  • Water as your drink of choice

The primary differences lie in emphasizing plant-based proteins – instead of always choosing plant-based foods. This is a significant departure from words like milk and meat, which many Canadians grew up with. It’s important to note that Canada’s Food Guide does not discredit meat and dairy industries, but instead opens “healthy” to include plant-based diets. 


CFG also moved away from whole grain foods, instead of refined – and sugar such as juice or pop. Historically, sugary beverages have been the number one source of sugar in Canadian diets – and Canadians have paid the price. In 2017, the Public Health Agency of Canada reported 64% of Canadians over 18 are statistically obese. Compare that to 2002 – 15 years earlier, when that number fell much lower at only 15%.

Food production industries will likely feel the impact of these changes to Canada’s Food Guide in the coming years, leading behemoths like dairy, meat and refined grains to rethink the ways they produce and market their food products in the future. 

To learn more, visit:

Flexitarian Diets

Cattle looking at camera

While veganism continues to climb in popularity, another consumer habit tends to be overlooked: the rise of ethical meat-eaters.

Over 65% of North American consumers are looking for what can be called “better-for-me” items. These include products that are better for the environment, animals, farmers or workers. Last weekend, the Annual Meat Conference in Dallas met to discuss how grocers can better reach consumers, in an industry that has begun to seem “off-trend.” In Europe, meat consumption has been steadily dropping since the 1970s with a 4.2% drop in meat purchase since 2017. 

According to a report by Winsight Grocery Business, we’re witnessing “a shift toward a flexitarian diet, or a mostly plant-based diet with limited amounts of meat and poultry.” 

Of the shoppers interviewed:

  • 86% identified as meat-eaters
  • 10% identified as flexitarians

Of that 10%, a lot of consumers are of generation X and Z, which demonstrates an above-average interest in the future of individual health, concerns about environmental impact and animal treatment. Many consumers are shifting towards a plant-based diet because of concerns with reasons listed above, so words like grass-fed, organic and antibiotic-free, matter. Winsight’s report says, “Seven out of every 10 shoppers believe humanely raised, free-range, grass-fed and hormone-free benefits the livestock.”

That means, to keep shoppers interested in meat products, the food industry has an obligation to creating a more sustainable, ethical environment.