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Peruvian, local, and Thai: Trends for 2012?

By Caroline Scott-Thomas , 08-Dec-2011

Trend predictions for the year ahead have begun to pour in, with a spin on economic uncertainty featuring on most of them, as well as American regionalism, insects, and Peruvian foods.

Thai and Indian cuisine made it onto consulting and public relations firm Andrew Freeman and Co.’s list – echoing what flavor firms have been saying since early in the year – as did grilled cheese sandwiches and hand-pulled noodles.

In terms of Thai food, the firm said unfamiliar vibrant flavors are likely to become more popular, as chefs give street foods a makeover. Thai food has been on the rise in the United States for the past couple of years. There was a 68% increase in new products described as Thai in 2010, according to market research organization Mintel.

Trendspotter JWT Intelligence claims that ‘food as the new eco-issue’ will drive many purchasing decisions in 2012, as consumers increasingly consider the environmental impact of their food. How food companies approach this issue will play a role in driving the trend alongside government and activist organizations, it says, especially as higher food prices hit different regions around the world.

Writing on the Institute of Food Technologists’ blog , RSCG Worldwide’s Marian Salzman says that “people are freaking out about being fat”. Big brands are likely to introduce products with a healthier slant, she says, and healthy snacking is set to be a big trend in the coming year as “fat phobia” takes hold.

She quotes figures from market research organization Packaged Facts, which projects packaged snack sales to reach $77bn by 2015.

Peruvian flavors have been on the radar for a while (here’s a podcast with Symrise product development chef Joe Scott from March this year, which discusses the trend), and the Food Channel agrees . Peruvian is the ‘next big thing on the ethnic culinary scene’, it says.

And it seems that the trend for comfort eating is over, according to Huff Post , as eating insects shows up in its top spot for trends of 2011 – at least in terms of media coverage . Several publications have claimed that insects could help feed a growing global population, as they are packed with protein and could be more environmentally sustainable than other protein sources.

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