By Suzy Badaracco, Foodable Industry Expert
When combing through the 210 Top 10 lists for 2015 offered up by trends forecasters, several gaps appeared. Forecasts for 2015 fell into distinct patterns with either the same predictions named again and again or general predictions offered, like “sustainable,” which are utterly useless to consumers and the industry in the end.
To understand why food and flavor trends are born, or step into the spotlight for any given year, one must also understand their surrounding Couriers and influencers. A Courier acts to shuttle a trend in from a neighboring focus, while an influencer can be seen as an ally to a trend. Consumer, health, and technology trends impact and shift trends that are expressed in the food industry. They move as a dance — when one arena experiences a shift, the other areas will shift in response. Without understanding what is influencing a food, flavor or beverage trend, you have little hope of predicting where it will go next. And that is the difference between tracking trends and forecasting them.
With that said, overlooking key trends is akin to having a puzzle with missing pieces, which means the picture remains incomplete and can be misunderstood. Here are a few of the overlooked patterns to round things out a bit to help complete this year’s puzzle.
The Unmentioned Top 5 Trends Affecting the Food Industry
- Consumer: “Clockless eating,” which is helping to fuel the all-day breakfast, late night snacking, and small plate trends. Clockless eating manifests itself in various ways. Younger generations are among the no-rules clockless crowd, where meals and snacks are not tied to any particular foods or times. Older generations tend to be creatures of habit and prefer instead to stick with specific foods eaten at specific times.
- Technology: Hacker chic and DIY upgrades couldn’t be hotter right now. It’s the Wikipedia way for devices. Consumers want to tweak, personalize and upgrade devices so they better fit their lives and needs.
- Beverage: Tea cocktails have sidled up to the bar, getting cozy with whiskey, wine and rum. On that note, alcohol now competes with traditional seasonings as it shows up in marinades, desserts, sauces, and as a base for rubs. Tea has crossed into the seasoning arena as well.
- Foods & Flavors: Freekeh, grits, farro, oh my! These have ties to consumers’ experimental mood and regional and global cuisine interests. Freekeh is coming in through middle Eastern and North African influences, grits from the Deep South, and farro from Italy.
- Foods & Flavors: Cuban and “Floribbean" foods are coming in following the relaxation of travel restrictions initiated by government. The race to discover Cuba’s food secrets is on. Floribbean is closely tied to Cuban food and finds it influences from visitors and immigrants from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and others. Florida is acting as the gateway for both cuisines.