The Rise of Protein: A Trend Not to Be Ignored

The Rise of Protein: A Trend Not to Be Ignored

By Suzy Badaracco, Foodable Industry Expert

There has been a focus on and interest in high-protein diets for years, despite the reported health risks associated with them. The trend’s birth “parent” is a Morph, which is characterized by “cousins” all vying for the spotlight.

With this particular birth, the first cousin was the Atkins diet, with its rise to fame in 2004. The first disruptive cousin on the block was the South Beach diet, which took over in 2005. Fast forward to 2011, the Dukan diet stole the thunder, but was ousted in 2012 by the Paleo diet when it decided to stand on the table, put a lampshade on its head, and start dancing (much to the horror of the other cousins).

The telltale sign of a Morph is that the current cousin in the spotlight does not kill off the previous cousin; it just steals the focus. With a Morph, one can play with all the cousins since they are all still on the playground together. For example, Atkins is still available, along with Paleo and other high-protein diets. You are simply changing allegiances as the cousins push and pull at each other.

Read More

The Rise of Nordic Cuisine: Where It Comes From and Where It’s Heading

The Rise of Nordic Cuisine: Where It Comes From and Where It’s Heading

By Suzy Badaracco, Foodable Industry Expert

Food, flavor, and health trends are oftentimes born outside the food industry. So, by only looking at restaurants, food magazines, casual dining, and manufacturers’ movements, you can easily miss a trend’s birth or miscalculate its impact or time of death. There are several different birth paths and parents that can cause a trend to emerge. One of many birth types is called a Courier, which acts to shuttle a trend in from a neighboring industry or focus. Travel often acts as a Courier to the food industry. Simply put, consumers travel, experience the local cuisine, and return home seeking to replicate their food experiences. The Nordic cuisine trend’s parent is Travel, resulting from a Courier birth.

Read More

'Artificial Exit': The Food Industry’s Newest Pandora’s Box

'Artificial Exit': The Food Industry’s Newest Pandora’s Box

By Suzy Badaracco, Foodable Industry Expert

A Pandora’s Box is the term used to describe a type of trend that is all encompassing, ties in with many other trends, has very little chance of ever diminishing, and has attributes making it virtually unstoppable.  Once opened, a Pandora’s Box is extremely unlikely to close again. It behaves like a virus, spreading into and influencing other trends, thereby replicating its own influence and increasing its alliances. Pandora’s Boxes also have the rare attribute of having few or no adversaries. There are no two sides to this coin – everyone is on board and moving it forward on one tract or another, but with the common purpose to keep it alive and growing.

The “Artificial Exit” is one of newest Pandora’s Boxes in the food industry. It joins the ranks of sustainability and adultized kids’ meals as an unstoppable trend. 

Blurred Lines

Its birth is a Morph, whereby a cousin to a current trend steals the spotlight. The trend began with “natural” then moved to “free from,” which then moved briefly to “pure,” and finally to “artificial exit.” The FDA has refused to define the term “natural,” and it therefore remains one of the leading arguments in lawsuits against the industry, particularly with suits involving products containing GMOs, as to what constitutes “natural” since there is no legal definition. That may change since The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, which would prohibit the mandatory labeling of biotech foods, was approved by the House of Representatives in a 275-150 vote on July 23rd, 2015. It would set up a voluntary program for companies that want to disclose genetically modified ingredients. Firms that want to claim their food is GMO-free would have to submit to a certification process overseen by the Department of Agriculture. It would also allow the Food and Drug Administration to define the label “natural” to include genetically engineered material.  

Read More

Fall/Winter Flavor Trends Beyond Pumpkin

Fall/Winter Flavor Trends Beyond Pumpkin

By Suzy Badaracco, Foodable Industry Expert

A fall/winter food trends article would not be worthy of the name unless pumpkin is mentioned. One of the reasons pumpkin is again showing up so strongly this year is because it is able to simultaneously move laterally and also form new alliances. Last year, pumpkin did not share the spotlight, but to continue its upward trajectory it had to reinvent itself and form alliances with other foods and flavors of the season.  

While Starbucks didn’t create the pumpkin trend, it did champion a ricochet which occurs when a trend jumps tracks. Traditionally pumpkin has been in the bakery, but by moving it to beverages, they reinvented the profile. Since then, pumpkin has moved to yogurt, smoothies, ice cream, and savory items.

The second phenomenon that occurred is a morph — when other cousins come into the spotlight, like regional maple, caramel, ginger, eggnog, cider, maple cranberry, regional apple and pear varietals. They show off regional and historical ties, which are a more sophisticated positioning than “comfort food” this season.

Many of the fall/winter flavors boast an emotional connection for consumers since these flavors and combinations are historical to the U.S. Pumpkin and its cousins have ties to many other trends including that of seasonal, local, authentic, and regional flavors. They represent grounding flavors in an uncertain time. This is why you don’t see global flavors infiltrating the traditional seasonal flavors in the U.S.

Let’s step away from the ordinary and move to the exploratory.

Read More

5 (More) Food Trends Missed by Forecasters for 2015, Pt. 2

5 (More) Food Trends Missed by Forecasters for 2015, Pt. 2

By Suzy Badaracco, Foodable Industry Expert

Last month, I offered up five trends missed by forecasters for 2015, but couldn’t ignore another set of five that have been on my mind and showing up in front of consumers. 

When combing through the 210 trends forecast Top 10 lists for 2015, offered up by trends forecasters, several gaps appeared that should be shared and considered including this second set of five. 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 more of the overlooked patterns to round things out a bit to help complete this year’s puzzle.

Read More