KeHE’s Product Innovation Gurus Name Top Five Industry Trends to Watch in 2020 – KeHE Distributors, LLC





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Naperville, IL – December 17, 2019 — As part of our commitment to finding goodness and staying ahead of the trends – KeHE’s Product Innovation Gurus, who serve as our resident experts, have summarized the top five trends to watch in 2020. Here’s what you can expect to see in your neighborhood grocery store and trending with your friends:

The Next No-Brainer

As a society, we’re stressed out. Brands in the food, beverage, beauty, and supplement industries are turning to a new way to improve our mental health and wellness with nootropics.

What are nootropics, you ask? They’re a class of substances that can boost brain performance by improving cognition, learning ability perception, and memory. Score! You’ve probably heard of the most common nootropics like caffeine and creatine, but what about L-theanine, Rhodiola, and Bacopa?

And it’s not only brain power these ingredients are boosting. According to IRI/SPINS sales data, these functional ingredients have seen a 37% increase in sales or $383M across all natural and conventional retail channels in the last year1. The rise in sales indicates the consumer’s need for products to support brain health. While you’ll find most nootropics in the supplement aisle – skincare, meal replacements, and sport energy drinks are next.

There’s No Planet B

Oceans and the ozone aren’t the only things heating up, customers are fired up about taking care of the environment. From farming practices and manufacturing processes, to packaging, recycling and reducing waste, people are taking note of more sustainable practices available within the product lifecycle. Shoppers are putting their dollars to good use by buying more sustainable products.

In the US, 57% of consumers now expect brands to be a force for positive environmental change, highlighting the importance of brands and retailers taking an active role in driving sustainability2. One trend that has shaped consumers’ product selection is responsible packaging. By lowering carbon outputs through reducing, reusing, composting or using renewable resources brands can help limit landfill waste by rethinking their packaging.

Regenerative farming has also become a focal point within sustainability. The term refers to improving soil health and maintaining long-term agricultural sustainability. The goal is not only to “do no harm” to the land but to improve it, through dynamic and holistic practices such as conservation tillage, cover crops, crop rotation, composting, mobile animal shelters, and pasture cropping. Keeping the earth’s agriculture viable for farming, through practices like regenerative agriculture, are crucial for future generations.


Loving your pet goes beyond playtime and belly rubs, pet owners are now just as concerned with what goes in their furry friend’s gut as when they think about their wellbeing. Pet food, the fastest- growing category in center store grocery, is fueled by innovation in natural and specialty pet food which shows with its 25% growth3.  Natural, organic and premium pet food brands are centering their products around catering to pet owner’s needs by optimizing nutrition and ensuring safety for pets.

Why the increase? It’s younger consumers (18-34) looking for super-premium (fresh, customized, clean ingredient) pet food ensuring continued premiumization of the category in the coming years4. To them, their pets are family, and they want to feed them like family.

CBD Hits a High Note

CBD this, CBD that. If you haven’t heard the acronym yet, first – you’re living under a rock and second- you are sure to hear it this upcoming year. CBD, also known as cannabidiol, represents a huge opportunity in the food and beverage industry, pending potential FDA regulation updates. Considered as a “healthy” functional ingredient, typically by younger consumers, CBD is claimed to provide body and mind wellness with pain relief and anxiety, and to improve sleep. The newfound interest has sparked innovation within categories such as skincare, cosmetics, supplements, pet care, snacks, candy, beverages, etc.

Despite current FDA regulations hindering a full rollout of products, hemp-derived CBD has popped up on restaurant menus across the U.S. About a quarter (24%) of Gen Z and 20% of Younger Millennials are eating it up and want to see more food and beverages containing CBD in fast-food restaurants5. Think about those sales figures if federally approved. Until then, any food (including any animal food or feed) to which THC or CBD has been added to is prohibited

The Microbiome: A Macro Trend

From moms to influencers, it seems as if everyone is talking about gut health – specifically microbiome health. Microbiome refers to the trillions of bacteria, fungi, and organisms in the human gut. It plays a crucial role in your overall health by controlling digestion and benefiting the immune system.

A range of functional ingredients, such as fiber, probiotics, prebiotics, and postbiotics, are emerging in the food and beverage products to support gut health. One emerging term that has started to pop up on social media feeds is postbiotic which refer to non-viable bacteria that can help with absorbing nutrients, regulating digestion, and improving gut-brain communication. Postbiotics mostly apply to personal care products but are expected to grow into functional categories soon.

Our trend gurus are always on the lookout for category trends and exciting new products, visit KeHE’s blog for the latest trend updates.


  • IRI/SPINS Functional Ingredient Performance in the Total US, L52wk ending 10/6/2019
  • Mintel Can Regenerative Farming Save the World Insight Report, 4/1/2018
  • IRI/SPINS Natural & Specialty Pet Performance in the Total US, L52wk ending 11/3/2019
  • Mintel Pet Food US Report, 7/1/2019
  • Mintel Trendspotting on US Menus, 9/1/2019

About KeHE
With its nationwide distribution network, KeHE provides natural & organic, specialty & fresh products to chain and independent grocery and natural food stores and other specialty product retailers throughout North America.  KeHE is an employee-owned, B Corporation certified, company with over 5,000 employees in the U.S. and Canada. Where KeHE Goes, Goodness Follows.®  For more about KeHE, visit or check out our social media channels: FacebookTwitterInstagram, & LinkedIn.