Happy New Year! And with a new year starting we begin to think about what the future holds for us. We worry on how the economy will be and how the stock markets will behave, who’s going to win the elections, what’s going to happen with the weather and the global warming… But we also would like to know how numerology sees the year of 2008, where the planets are and how they are going to affect us, what we can expect for the rat year… And who doesn’t want to listen about what’s going to be in and out in the fashion world and, of course, what are the food trends! Here is what I’ve heard and read:
Organic foods, sustainability, wind- and solar-powered farming, fair-trade foods, locally grown foods, knowing where your food originates and how it was produced continue to grow in popularity among consumers.
Consumers now also want to know the specific varieties of ingredients and breeds of animals there were produced with.
Small portions of food, wine, or other alcoholic beverages, and plates that can be shared around the table will continue to be popular.
Repeated recalls of meat and produce have drawn attention to the sluggish and outdated American food-safety system, and the government has faced mounting calls for an overhaul. Expect food companies to be as nimble, touting new and increased safety measures.
A growing variety of alternative natural sweeteners, from honey-like agave syrup, erythritol to ultrasweet stevia, are crowding grocers' shelves. And artificial sweeteners are on the "out" list.
Maybe less people will drink bottled water, as it is seen by activists as a major source of environmental overload. But at the same time we will see more of functional waters (those with added nutrients), flavored water and also flavored ice cubes.
Shoppers want, and are getting, bolder flavors, more spices, stronger cheeses, and more crisp and crunchy textures - all subtle changes in taste attributed to the dulled taste buds of an aging population.
Latin flavors are the next thing and Asian influences are still in, special attention to the light flavors like fish, oyster and plum sauces. On the other hand Wasabi is on its way out. Indian, Indian-fusion and Japanese fare are moving toward the mainstream, while the adventurous are trying Korean and African foods. And Olympic hype from Beijing is sure to boost cravings for Chinese food.
There will be more products containing Probiotics, the friendly bacteria that keep us healthy are moving beyond yogurt to a wider range of foods, even chocolate bars.
Fruits, vegetables, salads, grains, specially ancient grains like quinoa, nuts, and yogurt are part of a trend toward naturally good-for-you foods.
We will see more of less familiar cuts and animal parts, nose to tail, turn up on menus.
Tours and trips planned around food experiences, a country's cuisine or cooking lessons - once just for dedicated foodies - are attracting ordinary vacationers.
Kids' cooking classes are cropping up across the country, and we're seeing more prepacked kids' foods in stores and cook books for them.
Expect to see more ready-to-eat or easy-use food products, such as salad mixes, sauces, prepackaged dinners, and pie crusts. That reflects a desire for home cooking with a little less hassle.
The premium food market is expected to grow by 30% to $94 billion in 2008. Gourmet tuna, cheeses, teas, wine-flavored crackers, and cocktail products are in that category.
The vegetarian trend will continue to grow.
Look for high-nutrient "super fruits" to go mainstream. Mangosteen, a high-antioxidant fruit from Southeast Asia, is making waves. Subtly sweet and a bit tangy, mangosteen is set to show up in juices along with goji berries, acai and more pomegranate. But the yumberry (picture)may edge out the competition. The subtropical fruit, originally from China, has a high antioxidant content and cranberry-like flavor.
More restaurants will accept take out orders via text messaging, and more people are going to place orders and pay by cell phone while en route to pick up food from a take-out, a supermarket or a neighborhood restaurant.
More specialized and niche restaurants and stores will open, like dessert bars, rice pudding shops, cevicherias and noodle bars run by chefs.
Though we may be more interested in food and dining than ever before, recent trends suggest we're all getting a little tired of over-the-top fine dining. We will see fewer really upscale restaurants and more neighborhood bistro-style businesses.