2006 Food Forecast

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Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Just when you thought there wasn't room for any more information on those crowded food labels, guess again. The new year is bringing a slew of additional facts.

The 11 million Americans with food allergies will gain plain-language labeling. Products with trans fat will be clearly marked.

And the government is thinking about having calories listed in larger print and requiring that nutritional information be included for an entire package, not just one serving.

Along with these changes, food forecasters are predicting some provocative trends, including such possibilities as Christian-raised chicken, and diet and beauty advice from experts as you shop for groceries.

Trend expert Faith Popcorn, keynote speaker at the Future of Food conference last month in Washington, and the person who predicted the "cocooning" craze of the 1990s, sees faith-friendly food showing up in the marketplace, an outgrowth of what her company calls "clanning," or the desire to belong to groups with common ideas.

Tyson Foods, which makes chicken, beef and pork products, already has begun offering free downloadable prayer booklets on its Web site. The booklets provide mealtime prayers in a variety of faiths.

Popcorn also told food executives at the conference, which was sponsored by the supermarket industry, that it's a myth women love to grocery shop -- they really hate it. They'd like it a lot more, Popcorn said, if it were "an experience" in which they could participate, such as by talking to a nutritionist or beauty expert about new products.

Whether these predictions become reality, 2006 is bringing big changes for consumers. If you eat, you'll want to read about what's in store for you in the coming year.

-- Candy Sagon and Carole Sugarman


© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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