CHICAGO —If a foodie woke up this year from a long coma and had an appetite for the latest trends, it might take them a little work to catch up. A world with meatless meats, weed-infused eats and drinks teeming with organisms that make our guts happy does sound a bit like a fever dream.
Check out the very real trends taking hold in 2019, according to foodservice experts ...
Exploring flavors from the Pacific Rim
Whole Foods Market anticipates grocery stores and foodservice operations will draw menu inspiration from the Pacific Rim. This geographic area includes Asia, Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia, Polynesia and the western coasts of North and South America. Besides bringing dishes such as longganisa, a Filipino pork sausage, dried shrimp and cuttlefish to the mainstream market, the Austin, Texas-based retailer sees potential for incorporating ingredients from this region in health-forward dishes. For instance, an extract from the Southeast Asian monk fruit, also known as luo han guo, can stand in for sugar. Over the next year, Whole Foods is launching Pacific Rim-inspired products including guava tropical vinaigrette and a dried fruit mix.
Texture takes the stage
Although flavor tends to steal the show, Campbell Soup Co., Camden, N.J., expects texture to get more spotlight in 2019. Foodservice operators will likely be taking a more complex and layered approach to texture, said Maria Gamble, Campbell’s executive chef. “We’re seeing unique texture combos in snacks and treats, though authentic global eats—from chewy noodles to crunchy rice—are inspiring savory texture trends too,” she said. Trending chia seeds, bubble teas, seltzer water, nitrogen coffee and jerky have all captured consumers with a multidimensional tasting experience, Gamble said.
Protein alternatives update traditional definitions of meat
Health and wellness is the most impactful area to watch across all food channels, said Phil Kafarakis, Specialty Food Association president. As the foodservice industry gains a better understanding of allergies, digestive health and high protein diets, Kafarakis said alternative proteins and plant-based options will continue to evolve. In 2019, the food industry analyst expects lab-grown meat to reach the mainstream market. Although operators might be familiar with the Impossible burger and other engineered beef products, Kafarakis expects to see more lab-grown poultry parts, such as breast meat.
CBD redefines plant-based cuisine
Cannabidiol (CBD)-infused menu items will be a smoking hot trend this year, according to the National Restaurant Association. In the professional organization’s recent 2019 What’s Hot Culinary Survey, 650 American Culinary Federation chefs said cannabis and CBD concoctions have potential for new markets and experiential dining occasions. More than three-quarters identified cannabis and CBD drinks as the No. 1 trend, followed by 76% citing infused food as the top trend.
Drinks with a job
Campbell’s has dubbed 2019 the year of the functional beverage. Gamble foresees more drinks tailored to individualized health needs. “From fresh juices and smoothies to fermented kombucha and kefir to sippable broths and soups, the beverage category itself is being reimagined,” she said. With more than 400 kombucha brands in the market, Gamble anticipates the category to mature with fresh spins on prebiotic, probiotic and gut-healthy options.