Ketchum, New York, launched its inaugural survey of nutrition experts to understand what topics, ingredients and dishes would shape the year ahead in food.

In this report, 176 nutrition professionals from North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia observed shifts in food trends and behaviors to identify macro trends that cross borders and micro trends that boast the potential to emerge in other regions.

Against the backdrop of a wide array of topics, nutrition professionals worldwide believe sustainability will be most important in 2017.

The term “nutrition” continues to be redefined from nutrients to sourcing, ingredients and how and where food is made. Nutrition is now just as much about connotation as denotation, and transparency in all aspects of food is a table stake.

As the global nutrition community looks to the year ahead, it anticipates even greater consumer demand for sustainably-grown and locally-sourced foods.

Plant-based proteins will rule

Plant-based proteins will continue to increase in popularity, as will flexitarian and vegan options, in part because of health but also because consumers are seeing a relationship between plant-based choices and sustainability.

The United Nations named 2016 the “Year of the Pulse,” and 60% of nutrition experts agree that the prominence of these grain legumes, like lentils, chickpeas, dry beans and dry peas, will continue to escalate in 2017. In many ways, pulses embody many of the trends identified throughout the survey — they can be sustainably cultivated, are a nutrient-dense, plant-based protein and deliver functional health benefits.

Microbome becomes an everyday word

The microbiome—the interactive ecosystem of the gut—is a term consumers are getting to know, and the gut-brain axis (the biochemical signaling that takes place between the gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system) is an area of research that most excites the global nutrition community.

Respondents predict an increased interest in foods that support gut health. including:

• Prebiotics (56%), the “food” for probiotics

• Fermented foods and beverages (61%), rich in probiotics

• Low FODMAP foods (61%), an acronym for highly fermentable carbohydrates that are commonly poorly absorbed and may trigger digestive discomfort.

Demand for fast, but healthy

Nutrition experts foresee consumer demand for convenient dining, delivery, cooking and assembling options continuing to grow.

However, this time-saving benefit should not compromise nutritious, sustainably-sourced and packaged ingredients.

More servings of more information

Facebook and Twitter keep feeding food knowledge, but nutrition experts anticipate Instagram and food/health apps (66% and 68%, respectively) will play a bigger role in influencing food choices in 2017.

Nutrition professionals are energized by consumers’ deepening commitment to making healthful, nutrient-dense choices, but are concerned about the role of influencers who are not credentialed experts leading the conversation about nutrition.