Countdown has been researching the food trends for the coming year and thinks that kefir is at the top of the list of products Kiwis will be throwing into their trolleys. Kefir is a fizzy, milky drink bursting with bacteria that's great for your gut. It can also be made from water or coconut milk.

Countdown dietician Deb Sue said that customers continue to embrace products that aid gut health as the trend that focuses on digestive wellness continues to resonate. “This year we predict that products which focus on our customers’ overall gut health such as fermented foods and drinks like kombucha, kimchi, switchel and kefir, as well as probiotic in yoghurt or cereals, will continue to grow in popularity.”

Kiwis are following the rest of the world’s diet changes, with continued demand and growing popularity for vegan and vegetarian meal solutions. According to Countdown its percentage of vegan customers has doubled in the last year. Consequently, this additional demand has led to the supermarket increasing its range of products and has seen a 30 percent growth in the demand of vegan and vegetarian chilled foods, with the trend predicted to increase even more this year.

“We’re not saying that New Zealanders are all turning into vegetarians or vegans by any stretch, but we are seeing a huge increase in the demand for more plant-based meal solutions such as veggie burgers, “mince” made from plants, and other proteins like falafel. Even ice cream is going vegan. We already have eight different vegan ice cream products in the range and later this month we will also be stocking Magnum and Cornetto ice creams which are made from soy and pea protein.

“No matter where you are on your health journey, increasing the number of vegetables and fruit into your diet is beneficial and it doesn’t have to be too hard or that costly. It can be as simple as grating some courgette and carrot into the spaghetti Bolognaise or adding cauliflower in mac’n cheese.  Or there are lots of new easy meal solutions such as Countdown’s latest Macro veggie burgers as a quick easy meal, or a making a stir fry but putting only half a breast of chicken and throwing in some tofu to pump up the protein.

Recently, the Eat-Lancet Commissions report said that globally we all need to start eating more fruit, vegetables, nuts, and legumes whilst reducing our red meat and sugar intake by 50 percent. A diet rich in plant-based products with fewer animal-sourced foods is healthier and better for the environment.

“We know Kiwi diets have changed significantly in recent years and more of our customers are already starting to adopt a flexitarian-based diet. They are actively choosing to have meat-free days, incorporating more plant-based meals into their diet while still enjoying meat a couple days a week. We think that type of diet will continue to increase in popularity, especially as more products start to appear on our shelves such as flexitarian sausages and burger patties which incorporate veggies and meat together, as well as mince made from natural products.”