The 10 Year Evolution of Healthy Food Trends [DATA ANALYSIS]

Posted by Hannah Broaddus

All trends wax and wane over time.

In the healthy foods industry in particular, we have a lot of trends that have grown in recent years. Today we will be looking through real-time data that shows the growth or decline of those trends over the last 10 years.


The Trending Tools

Google trends is a tool that exists to show the evolution of trends over time. You can see the interest in a particular topic (or keyword) over time — you can see when interest was waxing or waning and connect it to industry events that may have caused sudden spikes or drops in popularity.

These google trends incorporate data like how many retailers are selling a particular product or attribute (like “organic”) online, and how many consumers and companies are talking about it.

This tool is powerful for us in the food industry; we are now able to map which trends have the most interest by gauging how much they’re being talked about online. While the internet doesn’t tell us everything, it does tell us more than many other tools can about what consumers are interested in — these are the people that are utilizing the web to research, to ask questions, and to talk to their friends (sometimes even talk about your products!)

Luckily for us, the data has been aggregated, and we can glean new insights into consumer preferences and interests. Check out this data from the last 10 years.



Food Trends In Summary

Since we cover a lot of topics relating to non-gmo, organic and other healthy oils, I thought it would be fun to look at some of the broader healthy food trends across the board to see how they’ve changed over time.

The topics we’ll be tracking and overviewing are:

  • Non-GMO
  • Non-GMO Project Verified
  • Organic
  • Gluten Free
  • Paleo
  • Clean Label
  • Partially Hydrogenated Oils



The Evolution Of Food Trends





Non-GMO trends have seen a significant increase in recent years. Non-GMO sales soared by an average of about 70% annually from 2013 to 2015, about 5x the rate of the growth of organic products in comparison. (Source)



Non-GMO Project Verified


While the Non-GMO Project was originally established in 2007, it really started to pick up steam in 2011. That was the first year that many manufacturers started to get Non-GMO Project Verified, once consumer demand showed that it would be worthwhile.

Since then, it has surely taken off.





Organic trends have remained reasonably stagnant over the last ten years.

In comparison to conventional products, organic food sales have seen a moderate growth, about 12% in 2013 — in comparison to GMO products that grew at about 2%. However, growth has been slow in comparison to non-GMO.

However, the organic trend is not a new one and the volume of consumers talking about it online is remaining steady.



Gluten Free


This trend has seen growth over time, peaking around 2013-2014. Since then trends have remained steady.





Paleo trends have been big, especially around 2014-2015. As a result, in 2015 they were one of the hot topics seen at Expo West. (Source)



Clean Label


Clean label trends have remained reasonably steady over time, but recently seen a big upswing in the last year.



Partially Hydrogenated Oils


This is a fun one — the only trend we’ve looked at that is on the significant decline. It is now commonly agreed that partially hydrogenated oils should be avoided due to trans fats, and the FDA went so far as to ban their use in manufactured foods starting in 2018. (Source)

Due to all of the negative perceptions (and realities) of these oils, interest has waned significantly over time.

Topics: Industry Trends



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