Resolving to Make the Most of This Year’s Food Trends

January 12, 2015

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Enter 2015. Along with the standard New Year’s Resolution to eat healthier (yes, that’s mine, too), you can’t miss the multitude of food trend lists. While I sometimes wonder who exactly is writing these, often thinking I know more about what’s hot in food than these so-called trend experts, the whole concept of these lists doesn’t bug me too much.

Except maybe this year. Cricket-dust protein bars, anyone?

Yes, ground up bug parts made a few of this year’s top 10 foods to consider in 2015 lists. But so did several other more flavorful (and frankly, not disgusting) trends, including the following selected from a variety of reports from trend experts like Phil Lempert to dietitians like Joy Bauer:

  • Millet – Each year, list makers love to talk about “the next …” This year, that next item is millet. (As in it’s the next quinoa.) Millet is becoming a grain of choice because it’s gluten-free, protein-rich, high fiber and retains its alkaline properties after being cooked.
  • Rainbow Swiss Chard – Speaking of “the next,” rainbow Swiss chard is expected to be the next Kale. (More on that later.) It’s a heritage leafy green often referred to as leaf beet with a subtle earthy flavor. It’s also a nutrition powerhouse with high levels of vitamins C, K, E, beta-carotene, and the minerals manganese and zinc.
  • Jicama – Unusual produce like jicama also topped several lists. It’s about switching things up from a whole foods perspective, bringing in more flavors and more nutrients.
  • Harissa – Apparently Americans can’t get enough spiciness, which makes the current culinary environment a perfect fit for harissa. This spread composed of dried chiles, garlic, tomatoes, caraway, paprika, coriander and olive oil is a staple in places like Tunisia.
  • Locally Sourced Meats – The local food movement is shifting from the farmers’ market to the ranch as consumers seek more locally produced meat, whether beef, pork or chicken.

In addition to specific foods likely to be hot in 2015, several experts focused on general food movements that they expect to see (or see more of) in 2015, all of which center around the idea of being “real.” These include:

  • Real Fat – Fat is back. But not just any kind of fat. We’re talking natural, animal-derived fats as opposed to unhealthy trans fats. This real fat includes real butter, full-fat yogurts, high-fat burgers and more, driven by a demand for flavor and satisfaction.
  • Real Food – The eating simple trend is expected to continue in 2015. It’s about whole foods, minimal processing and eating things as Mother Nature intended. This includes vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains and lean protein.
  • Real Snacks – Snacking is nothing new. But the quality of those snacks is changing. Today’s consumers will be grazing on more nutrient-rich snacks full of protein, fiber and Omega-3s. This is especially true among Baby Boomers looking to improve their quality of life.

Health and wellness continues to rate high among various demographic groups in 2015, yet the definition of what that “healthy” means can vary significantly. For example, for some people, healthy means the perception of fresh. For others, it’s about calorie counts. And still for others, it’s about more whole foods vs. less processed ones.

Others equate healthful eating with dieting. (Yep, back to my New Year’s Resolution.) This year, some of the “best” diets of 2015, according to U.S. News and World Report, include the Mediterranean Diet, the TLC Diet, the Paleo Diet and The Supercharged Hormone Diet. (Huh?)

And for those interested in eating out, there are foodservice trends to consider. Meetings with top foodservice editors at the International Foodservice Editors Council centered on the following trends for 2015:

  • Flavor – It’s big this year among all the foodservice publications. Flavor & the Menu even discussed some of the specifics as to where flavor will appear: brunch, modern German, toast and biscuits, ranch dressing, savory jams, maple and more.
  • Poutine – You don’t have to go north of the U.S. border to enjoy this Canadian favorite. It’s expected to hit the menus of U.S. foodservice establishments this year. (Kind of defeats my New Year’s Resolution in one fell swoop.)
  • Sustainability – It’s been around a few years now, but sustainability is still of interest to some foodservice groups, but losing its impact with others.

Something at least one foodservice editor said he is not interested in 2015? Kale. “I’m existentially bored with it,” said Bret Thorn of Nation’s Restaurant News. (He cracks me up, by the way.)

If you, too, are “over” kale, this year’s food trends likely provide an opportunity to leverage your food-related product(s) or organization. We’d be more than happy to help you review these trends – whether culinary, diet or foodservice related – and develop a strategy that works with your goals. That would make a much better New Year’s Resolution for all of us.