Our guest contributor today is Kristen Siu, a registered dietitian for Bon Appétit Management Company.
2018 is sure to be a trend-setting year in the world of food and nutrition. Whole Foods and the National Restaurant Association, as well as other global food giants have already published their predicted food trends for 2018. I’ve taken these and some of my own predictions as a dietitian to create my list of the Top 10 Predicted Food Trends of 2018.
It’s ALL about plants moving into the new year. As red meat gets the heat in its association with certain types of cancer and cardiovascular disease, plants and plant-based proteins are finally getting the spotlight they deserve. Expect plants to be puffed into snacks, used as pasta substitutes (think zucchini noodles or “zoodles”), and at the center of the plate while meat takes the sidelines in smaller portions or as a garnish.
2. Globally-Inspired Ethnic Cuisines and Spices
2018 is the time for experimentation and broadening the palate, specifically with herbs, spices, and ingredients that are ethnically inspired. Peruvian and African foods and ingredients are sure to excite guests and chefs alike.
3. Locally Sourced, Sustainably Owned Farms
The votes are in and more businesses and organizations are choosing to buy local and sustainable. Why? Because consumers, now more than ever, care about where their food is sourced. The added benefit to buying local? Food tends to be fresher, tastier, and good for the Earth. Plus, you can support small businesses and that’s a win-win for everyone.
4. Environmental Sustainability and Food Waste Reduction
In a similar line with the above trend, consumers are increasingly concerned about their personal impact on the environment. We compost. We drive electric cars. Some people choose a zero-waste lifestyle. Chefs create dishes that use all parts of the plant or animal to create unique and flavorful meals. We must care about the environment and reducing food waste in our homes and businesses is a step in the right direction.
5. Artisan, Gourmet, House-Made
Whether it’s Tartine Bakery in San Francisco that makes possibly the best bread in the Bay Area or a farm dedicated to making a distinct cheese only from grass-fed cows, consumers crave the unique, artisan feel. Expect these artisan products from small businesses to capture your consumer’s attention in 2018.
6. Technology Takes Over
Consumers can now ask Alexa to reorder groceries for the week so they never need to step foot in a supermarket. From pizza and smoothie-making robots to automated ordering and pick-up systems, the need for human interaction becomes less and less. Whether this is a good thing for society or not, we are headed into full automation quicker than we can keep up.
7. Personalization and Niches
Gluten-free, dairy-free, nightshade-free. The market is heading into something more than simply excluding certain ingredients from a diet. Consumers are curious about genetic testing that claims to provide a personalized diet plan. Diet is trending toward personal and tailored for the individual and what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another.
8. Sportification and fitness
Bone broths, nutritional powders, and foods claiming to boost performance and energy are all responding to the fitness wave. Expect consumers to be asking about performance nutrition, the best ways to fuel pre- and post-work out, and the best foods to build muscle and improve in their sport.
You have the millennials to thank for this trend. Modern, young consumers demand transparency. Are these eggs from cage-free, free-range chickens on a local farm? Is this chocolate bar fair trade and ethically sourced? Consumers are concerned and curious about where their food is from, how it was grown, and if animals are humanely treated before slaughter. Simple ingredients turned into wholesome products are here to stay.
10. Tactile Experiences
Remember when your parents would tell you not to play with your food? Now, the tables have turned and consumers WANT to interact on a deeper level with their food. It’s not only about the visual component (for example: rainbow cakes, glittery lattes, or charcoal foods) but about the sensory component. Touching food and hearing sounds associated with eating helps people connect in an intimate way with their food. Multi-sensory packaging and in-store experiences with food are the new frontier.