As for overarching themes, says SRG culinary director Liz Moskow, it’s the usual case of ancient and modern trends combining: “Ancient health-and-wellness philosophies are being called upon for inspiration, and chefs and consumers are digging deeper to rediscover traditional cooking methods.
“But that’s not to say consumers don’t indulge in a bit of true decadence now and again—they’re just seeking a better balance. Food has become medicine, and dining has become a necessary means to interpersonal connection.
“Simply put, engaging with food is a conduit to engaging with the world.”
1. DOSHA (Ayurvedic) DINING: “From street food to mango lassi smoothies, mainstays of Indian culture are spreading out from the subcontinent. Turmeric serves as a consumer conduit into the ancient practice of Ayurveda, a holistic science focused on physical and emotional balance. Consumers will learn more about their doshas, or natural constitutions, and gravitate toward foods and practices that provide balance, reduce inflammation, and improve energy and stamina,” says SRG.
Moskow told FoodNavigator-USA: "This is a good example of a trend starting in CPG. Typically in the past you've seen chefs leading the charge and creating trends that bleed down into the CPG world."
2. PLANT BUTCHERY: “From inside the meat display case, plant-based mock versions of chicken, ham, meatballs, steak, and charcuterie beckon to be sliced, wrapped in butcher paper, and tied up with string. No longer are the vegan incarnations limited to seitan and soybean,” says SRG. “Chickpeas, corn, peas, legumes, and fungi are being utilized to entice meat eaters to make the move to Meatless Mondays.”
Moskow told FoodNavigator-USA: "We think this one will really pop. It's vegan items prepped for meat eaters, people that want to eat more healthily without competely giving up meat."
Examples: Organic Matters vegan bacon bits
3. GOATS!: “Low in calories, fat, and cholesterol, goat is poised to become the next goat-to protein. There’s a reason that 63% of the world is gaga for goat—it makes a great foundation for spicy and sour preparations, can be kosher and halal, and is sustainable to raise,” claimed Moskow.
"Goat [meat] is widely consumed as a staple in other parts of the world, so why not America? Americans are getting accustomed to goat's milk and goat's cheese, so why not meat? We've seen that people are more open to trying new sources of protein including crickets, so I think it is only a matter of time."
Examples: Avalanche Cheese Company Finocchiona Goat Salami.
4. COOK + CONNECT: “Smartphone apps like Eatwith and ‘Etsy for dinner’ app Umi Kitchen connect eager eaters with communal dining experiences,” says SRG.
5. MIGRATORY MEALS: “By celebrating their unique cultural heritages and cuisines, refugee populations are beginning to carve out their own culinary connections with their new home countries,” says SRG. “Look for menus that highlight cuisine with herbs and fresh flowers, orange blossoms, cardamom, fenugreek, sumac, pistachio, and pomegranates.”
6. SNACKING’ SARDINES: “Recent interest in Basque cuisine and the rise of Portugal as the newest destination for culinary and global exploration will drive sardines to the forefront,” predicts SRG. “High in omega-3s, protein, and umami flavor, sardines simply served on crusty toast with lemon, garlic, and aioli make for an uncomplicated yet elegant addition to any snacking situation.”
Example: Bela Lightly Smoked Sardines.
7. MOCKTAILS: “Alternatives to the old standby of club soda and lime feature fresh-pressed juices, flavored teas, sipping vinegars, and macerated and muddled herbs, spices, and fruits,” says SRG.
Example: Queen Mary Tavern (Chicago, IL): Sugar Snap Pea Syrup, Ginger, Lime, Soda
8. NOODLES: “As Asian noodle traditions become American favorites, consumers are seeking more authentic experiences. Chinese lamian, or hand-pulled noodles, adds another layer of both taste and visual showmanship.”
Example: The Handpulled Noodle (New York, NY): Dapan-ji, Spicy Bone-In Chicken Stew with Ribbon Noodles
9. PULP, RIND, LEAVES: “From stems to skins, items that were once considered trash are now products to treasure,” says SRG. “Watermelon rind pickles, riced cauliflower stems, chips and burgers made from discarded juice pulp, and even vegan leather made from pineapple leaves are all adding to companies’ bottom lines.”
Examples: Foragar ‘pulp’ chips
10. CHOCS FOR BREAKFAST? Referencing a Feb 2016 study suggesting ‘habitual’ chocolate intake is associated with better cognitive function, SRG suggests that grabbing a chocolate truffle as part of breakfast or a slice of chocolate cake at brunch could help us focus without feeling too guilty.
Boulder, Colorado-based Sterling Rice Group is a branding, innovation and strategy consultancy that works with leading CPG players, chefs, restaurateurs, and food influencers to gather trend information.
The insights above were gleaned through conversations with SRG’s culinary council, a team of 175+ chefs, restaurateurs and foodies teamed with data from the Dataessential MenuTrends database.
Click HERE to read more about the 10 trends.