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Food & fluids

Food, beverage and fitness trends for 2023

Globally, our food system is experiencing extreme levels of change and unpredictability as it grapples with issues such as inflation, disruption to supply chains, technological advancements and changing consumer needs.

Despite this the International Food Information Council (IFIC) reports that several food trends are emerging for 2023 driven by consumers desire for wellness, more energy, better mental health and a settled gut.1

Key drivers of food, beverage and health trends in 2023

IFIC’s 2022 Food and Health Survey2 reported that a desire for more energy was the key food benefit for the adult population, while mental and emotional health were amongst the top three issues that mattered most to the younger Generation Z’s (8-23 year olds). This survey also found 33% of people wanting to  make dietary changes were wanting to reduce stress and 24% wanted to reduce their alcohol intake.

The growth in the wellness drinking market

These are some of their predictions regarding the beverage market:

  • Tea and coffee: Look out for newer blends with lower caffeine and subtle sweet flavour profiles. Also the development of new drinks from native plants.
  • Mocktails and non-alcoholic cocktails: This market will continue to grow particularly among younger consumers intent on cutting back on alcohol consumption.Tangy, tropical flavours are leading the way 3
  • Sports drinks: Market growth is being driven by US, China, Canada, Germany and Mexico and is predicted to reach US$43.6 Bn by 2033. Expect to see development of more sports waters and ‘functional’ beverages.

Feeling it in the gut

Although many consumers are concerned about their emotional and mental health others are just wanting a ‘happier’ gut.

  • Probiotics continue to grow in popularity and digestive health is the third most sort after health benefit in America
  • Probiotics are now being added to chocolate, ice cream, fruit juice, nutrition bars and sauces.
  • In 2022 a survey of gut health and probiotics found that 25% of those surveyed expected to find probiotics and 23% expected to find prebiotics in wellness drinks.4

Plant-based innovation

The plant- based diet has driven the development of meat and dairy alternatives and we can expect more growth in these two areas.

  • Plant-based pasta, rice and snack foods are leading the way in innovation with ‘upcycling’. This is seeing plant-based waste being recycled into new products. Such as the pulp and wasted grains from the production of soy and oat milks is now being added to flour.
  • The IFIC Food Survey 2021 5 found consumer interest was growing in sea-green based food products such as algae and kelp.
  • Expect to also see more innovation in the use of mushrooms, seaweed and jackfruit.
  • Plant-based meat production is growing with Sunfed Chicken free chicken (based on yellow pea protein) being popular in NZ and  braised beef (made from Shiitake mushrooms) produced by Fable Foods in Australia.
  • In an effort to reduce reliance on agriculture and to produce meat like alternatives, work is also underway to produce cell-cultured meat derived from animal cells. However producers are struggling to find a name for these types of foods. ‘Cell-cultivated’ appears to be the current hot favourite 1

Aligning health claims with dietary guidelines in the marketplace

  • A 2022 Food and Health Survey in US found consumers associated words such as ‘natural ‘and ‘clean’ foods with healthfulness. Survey respondents defined a healthy food as being ‘fresh’ (37%), ‘low in sugar’(32%) and ‘a good source of protein’ (29%). In an effort to improve diet and reduce chronic illness The Food and drug administration (FDA) is now seeking to align their front of food packaging with their national dietary guidelines.6
  • This work has already been undertaken in Australia and NZ who have collaborated to produce the Health Star Rating system 7 on the front of food packaging and both countries agreeing to the same Food Standards 8 to cover such things as food codes, nutrient reference values and definitions of food claims etc

Viewing the food system through a DEI lens

Alongside issues of climate change and sustainability consumers are becoming more aware of issues of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).

  • In the 2022 Food and Health survey 45% of US consumers felt that fair and equitable treatment of workers within the food system would affect their purchasing decisions.
  • The United Nations Agency UNESCO has recently added to their list of ‘intangible cultural heritage new entities that include food and beverages that are steeped in tradition and ritual.
  • Expect to see growth in the market for indigenous foods. In New Zealand we are hearing more about the development of traditional foods used by Maori such as kawakawa, manuka, horopito and rewena.9
  • Many companies are now focusing on developing products and services that project their values of DEI and are trying to attract staff with talents to develop new products and services that reflect these core values

Thinking ‘Glocally’

“Glocalisation” recognises the interplay between globalization that also reflects and adapts to the unique local needs and conditions in existance. Companies wanting to trade in the global economy need to understand these local forces if they are to succeed.

World events such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine has put pressure on supply chains. Many products we have taken for granted and relied heavily on are now in short supply and prices are increasing.. The 2022 Food Survey found 83% of people noticed an increase in food prices over the past year and 29% of consumers studied cut back on their normal purchases as result.

Trends in the Fitness Industry

Wellness is not just associated with what we eat and drink but also how we keep fit.

According to the ACSM’s Health and Fitness Journal 10 amidst the post pandemic recovery new trends are emerging

  • Gone are the online fitness training and home exercise gyms as people get back into outdoor life.
  • The top 5 activity trends predicted are growth in #1 Wearable technology; #2 Strength training with free weights; #3 body weight training; #4 Fitness for older adults; #5 Functional fitness training.

Sum up

Maintaining a healthy diet amidst new food trends and environmental pressures can be a real challenge but here are some closing thoughts:

  • For better mental health and cognition try to heed the trend and reduce alcohol intake. This recommendation is supported by new Canadian Health Guidelines 11 which recommends adults drink no more than 2 standard alcoholic drinks per occasion. Alcohol is not recommended for pregnant or lactating women or children at any age.
  • A plant-based foods focus should encourage all of us to eat more fruit and vegetables, bread and cereals for more B group vitamins and dietary fibre regardless of our meat eating status.
    Note: Dietary fibre needs vary with age and activity. More isn’t always better. Find out your needs and best fibre sources.
  • Keep eating ‘real’ rather than ‘ultra-processed foods’. This applies particularly to plant-based pre-prepared meals and snacks which can be a magnet for extra salt, sugar and food additives. Learn to read food labels
  • Just because a pre or probiotic, a vitamin or mineral has been added to a food doesn’t mean that you need it. Find out your own recipe for growth, health and repair. See your doctor for a blood test and contact me if you would like a nutritional assessment and online dietary consultation.
  • Prioritise your exercise and find easy ways to keep active each day 12
  • Have fun! …Irrespective of your health goals food is something to be enjoyed and to have fun with. To be well we also need to feel connected to others, to belong, to feel needed and valued and while this becomes harder when we get busy, stressed and distracted by work and the needs of others, help is always at hand.

More articles by Lea on similar topics:

How to make the most of a plant-based diet
Snacking on the plant-based diet
Dietary guidelines are constantly changing are they still relevant?
Can caffeine improve your performance?
Alcohol and sport. Is it a good match for you?
8 Healthy tips when making ‘real food’ choices


  1. Food Trends for 2023 https://ific.org/media-information/press-releases/food-trends-for-2023/
  2. 2022 Food and Health Survey May 18,2022 https://foodinsight.org/2022-food-and-health-survey/
  3. Beverage trends and redirections: Here’s what will lead beverage development in 2023. World tea news 2023 https://www.worldteanews.com/issues-trends/2023-beverage-trends-predictions-heres-what-will-lead-beverage-development-2023
  4. IFIC Survey: Consumer insights on gut health and Probiotics. Food Insight April 13, 2022 https://foodinsight.org/consumer-insights-on-gut-health-and-probiotics/
  5. Consumer surveys: A continued look at Covid-19’s impact on food purchasing, eating behaviour and perception of food safety. Food Insight Dec 13,2021. https://foodinsight.org/consumer-surveys-covid-19s-impact/
  6. FDA proposes updated definition of ‘healthy’ claim on food packages to help improve diet and reduce chronic disease. Food and Drug Administration Sept 28,2022. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-proposes-updated-definition-healthy-claim-food-packages-help-improve-diet-reduce-chronic-disease
  7. How health star ratings work. NZ Ministry of Primary Industry https://www.mpi.govt.nz/food-safety-home/how-health-star-ratings-work/
  8. Food standards Australia NZ. NZ Ministry of Primary Industry https://www.mpi.govt.nz/food-business/food-safety-codes-standards/australia-new-zealand-co-operation/food-standards-australia
  9. NZ Overlooked indigenous cuisine. BBC Travel Sept, 2022.


  1. ACSM Health and Fitness Fitness trends for 2023 https://journals.lww.com/acs healthfitness/fulltext/2023/01000/worldwide_survey_of_fitness_trends_for_2023.6.aspx
  2. Canadian Guidance Recommends Reducing Alcohol Consumption – Medscape- Jan 24, 2023

About the author View all

Lea Stening

Lea is one of New Zealand’s leading paediatric dietitians and also specialises in Sports Nutrition. She has specialised in Paediatric Nutrition for 31 years and in 1985 was the first paediatric dietitian to enter private practice in New Zealand. Lea helps families through her private consultations, public lectures, newspaper and magazine articles as well as television and radio interviews. Read more »

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