New cuts and old breeds of meat beat vegetable-centric dishes as top trends for 2018, chefs predict

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

New cuts old breeds of meat beat vegetable dishes as top 2018 trends

Related tags Meat Beef

For all the strides plant-based diets made in 2017, including the growing popularity of veggie burgers that bleed, cauliflower rice and zucchini noodles, new cuts of meat is predicted to be the number one food trend to watch in 2018, according to the National Restaurant Association’s annual “What’s Hot” list.

Of the 700 professional chefs and members of the American Culinary Federation surveyed by the National Restaurant Association, a whopping 69% predicted new cuts of meat would be a hot trend in 2018.

This is more than the 61% who said vegetable carb substitutes, like that famed cauliflower rice, would be hot, and the same percentage who predicted plant-based burgers will be big.

The Beef Checkoff was fast to seize this victory for animal protein and is actively engaging with consumers through its recently re-vamped “Beef. It’s what’s for dinner.”​ campaign to make the prediction come true in shoppers’ homes as well as in restaurants.

On its new website, the campaign has a dedicated section for beef cuts with tips on how to prepare them, what can be substituted for specific cuts and where they come from. It also gives extra information on the five cuts that Culinary Center chefs and meat scientists say will be the top five “innovative cuts”​ that consumers need to know in 2018. These include shoulder tender, sirloin baguette, Coulotte, petite sirloin and tri-tip roast.

Poultry, game and sustainable seafood on the rise

Beef isn’t the only animal protein predicted to be big in 2018. According to the National Restaurant Association, heritage breed meats are predicted by 60% of survey respondents to be pop this year. Similarly, 47% say free-range pork and poultry will become more popular.

This trend likely will be fueled by rising consumer concerns about animal welfare and the notion that if an animal has a better life or more closely resembles its wild counterpart it will be healthier for them to eat.

Industry already sees this playing out with the increased demand for slower-growing chickens​ and animal products that are organic and natural.

Inexpensive and underused meats also are predicted to grow by 38% of those surveyed, as are game meats, such as venison, boar and rabbit, by 37% of respondents. To an extent this could be a holdover from the tip-to-tail trend and the rising concern about food waste reduction.

Sustainable seafood also is projected by 62% of survey respondents to be hot in 2018. This is good news for early movers in the space, including Love the Wild and the Fishpeople, both of which place a premium on sustainability and making at-home prep less intimidating for consumers.

Vegetables are still on the rise

Just because new cuts of meat took the number one spot on the National Restaurant Association’s list of top 20 food trends for 2018, doesn’t mean consumer enthusiasm in plants is withering.

For example, plant-centric cuisine took the fifth slot on the association's list of top 10 concept trends for 2018 – beating out locally sourced meat and seafood.

Other top-hitting trends on the plant-based side include hybrid fruits and vegetables, such as broccoflower and pluots, protein rich grains, such as hemp, and heirloom vegetables which were predicted to be big in 2018 by at least 60% of the respondents.

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