It's that time of year again: as the end of 2015 looms closer, we start to speculate on what's to come in 2016. Most of us can guess what types of food trends will drive consumers in the upcoming year based on what has been popular in the past (i.e. non-GMO, local, less processing), but fresh, emerging trends may be harder to predict. Thankfully, some of the first food trend reports for 2016 are beginning to be released, and can shed some light on what the industry should expect in the new year.
Baum + Whiteman's extensive Food & Beverage Trends 2016 report leaves no stone unturned, with its top 11 trends. Unsurprisingly, it predicts food delivery services, like Amazon and Uber, will be a "Big Disrupter" in 2015-2016, with technology playing and increasingly large part. Restaurants and retailers alike will continue to introduce and revamp their delivery programs to appeal to today's on-demand consumer. The report also adds that in-store restaurants will become more prominent, with retailers looking to keep customers on the premises for as long as possible. Target and Whole Foods have already experimented with this idea, but non-food retailers, like Urban Outfitters, Restoration Hardware and Outdoor World, are also getting in on the trend.
In terms of flavors and foods for 2016, Baum + Whiteman predicts vegetables will take center stage in "root-to-stem" dining. Consumers concerned with the environmental impact of raising livestock and the rising prices of animal protein may contribute to the advancement of vegetables. Another change in the protein department may be the addition of poke, a Hawaiian dish featuring marinated, cubed raw fish. That's not the only item we might see from Hawaii in 2016. Acai bowls are popular in the state, and may make their way to the rest of the country. They are essentially a smoothie in a bowl, and made with acai pulp, soy, fruit, and ice and topped with granola, chia seeds or coconut flakes.
Chefs are increasingly exploring their roots, and Baum + Whiteman forecasts that will result in a resurgence of Jewish foods, as well as the continuation of ethnic spicy flavors. Modern Jewish dishes include halibut crusted with challah, bagels with smoked meats, and gruyere burgers with crisped pastrami. Spicy foods are already popular, but aromatic spice blends and new flavors will really take off, such as Korean gochujang, Thai red and green curry blends and pastes, and Japanese seven-spice.
Technomic also has some trend predictions of its own for 2016, many of which mirror Baum + Whiteman's. Technomic also believes food delivery will increase, shifting consumers away from brick-and-mortar restaurants. It forecasts quick-service restaurants will continue to evolve as a result, offering more customization and upscale items.
Technomic also predicts new spicy flavors will emerge, such as Indian ghost pepper, Korean sambal and North African sumac and dukka. There will also be an emphasis on smoked and charred flavors, even in desserts and cocktails. It sees the center of the plate changing, just as Baum + Whiteman does, with underutilized cuts of meat, such as stewing cuts and organ meats, rising as part of the "use it all" mindset.
Do you agree with Baum + Whiteman and/or Technomic's predictions? What do you think consumers will be eating in 2016?