At the beginning of each calendar year, The Wide Line publishes a blog summarizing upcoming food processing, restaurant and grocery trends. In preparation, we comb through industry journals, blogs, briefs, articles and websites for the latest and greatest in the world of food. We then whittle it down to the pacesetters, the sure-bets and the must-knows. So, without further ado, here are the food fads that will most impact what we produce and consume in 2015:
Through travel and tech, the world’s population is becoming increasingly culturally-savvy. Consumers have developed more sophisticated palates, wanting to experience bold and exotic foods and flavors reflective of their curiosities and interests. Look for regional Asian cuisine, like Japanese and Fillipino, to make appearances on menus and in grocery aisles. Japanese matcha tea, praised for its antioxidant and metabolic properties, will flavor everything from ice cream to sushi; while binchotan, an odorless, smokeless Japanese charcoal, will cook foods quickly and cleanly. Fermented foods (like Korean kimchi) will also continue to gain popularity, while coconut sugar will gain market traction with health and sustainability claims.
Eat Local & Read the Label
As opinions on sustainability, food ethics and ingredients become more culturally-pervasive, consumers increasingly want to know exactly what they’re eating and from where it came. Look for more locally-sourced meats, locally-grown produce and locally-crafted foods popping up in restaurants and supermarkets. Grains milled on-site for use in pasta, bread and pizza will also gain momentum. Along similar philosophies, food packaging will begin to move toward “clear” labeling, making package claims simpler and more transparent for the consumer. “Prep Pad”, a new countertop scale that links with an iPad, can also give its owners more detailed nutritional information.
The coveted consumer group known as “Millenials”—those born from 1982 to the early 2000’s—have embraced the artisanal food movement through their love of unique foods with authentic origins. For years, craft breweries have been at the forefront of the trend. Look for them to continue to lead the way by experimenting with ingredients known as “gruits” (herbs, spices and aromatics) in order to broaden taste profiles. Microdistilled spirits are also gaining popularity in the artisan beverage category, while artisan cheeses and ice cream are trending in the dairy category. Artisan butchery and house-cured meats are becoming increasingly popular in foodservice.
Protein’s Still King
A recent industry report concluded that “protein is the hottest functional food ingredient trend in the United States”. Protein is being added to food in order to “deliver a large range of benefits” from “promoting satiety” to helping with “weight loss and management”. Protein-rich grains and seeds, led by the ever-popular quinoa, will continue their impressive popularity. Rice, millet, buckwheat, amaranth, kamut, spelt, freekah and farro will also become increasingly pervasive. In the meat and poultry category, quality and origin are increasingly important, while dairy is finding its way into new snacks, beverages and savory products. Eggs, Legumes and Nuts are also growing in popularity as alternative forms of protein.
Consumers will increasingly seek bolder, more intense flavor experiences. Smoking food “deepens flavor and aroma, adding richness to meals and drinks.” Based upon the rise of hot sauces such as sriracha, smoked food is predicted to be everywhere—from vegetables and butters to cocktails and cheese. Watch for home-cooks using backyard smokers and adding liquid smoke to recipes.
Despite increased awareness of health and nutrition and a growing appetite for adventurous cuisine, consumers still rely on three main factors when making decisions regarding food: convenience, taste and price. So, food processors—anticipate the trends, but remember the motivators. People may change what, how and why they eat, but they still gotta to eat.