Reem Assil Predicts Sustainability as Major 2020 Food Trend

Products containing upcycled ingredients are slated to sell well.


Image by Kristan Lawson

Oakland chef-restaurateur Reem Assil, owner of Reem's California in the Fruitvale Transit Village and formerly of Dyafa in Jack London Square, was among an nationwide team of experts comprising the Specialty Food Association's Trendspotter Panel, asked to predict next year's biggest food-and-drink trends. 

“Whether it is motivated by regenerative agriculture, upcycled ingredients, or plant-based foods, products whose values center around sustainability are trending,” Assil avowed. 

According to the SFA’s State of the Specialty Food Industry Report 2019-2020, consumers — especially Gen Z-ers — are "values-oriented shoppers" who look at a company’s values and production methods when choosing what to eat, drink, and buy. Examples of new sustainabiity-driven products currently on the global market include tea made from discarded avocado leaves, frozen pizzas topped with vegetable scraps, and beverages made with whey that has been left over from the cheese-making process.

A local example of such products is Berkeley-based Regrained, which makes energy bars from grains left behind after beer is brewed. Every six-pack of beer, the Regrained folks assert, leaves behind a whole pound of spent grain. 

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