Born in the USA… (but possibly coming here soon)

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Around about this time of year the Speciality Food Association (SFA) in the USA begins to think about the key speciality food trends. This isn’t necessarily ‘everyday’ food but many of these influences have trickled down in what we buy, eat and enjoy today. The SFA hosts the Fancy Food Show in New York and San Francisco and here at TBN we’ve been attending these shows for over 10 years looking for the FMCG trends and brands that might be hitting our shelves soon.

As ever, with the 2018 predictions there’s the old, the new and the frankly bizarre but you just never know what’s around the corner. Remember how esoteric chilli honey, insect protein bars, seaweed thins and even popchips were a few years ago?

So, let’s take a look at what the panel at the SFA are predicting for the world of food:

Plant-based
For us here at TBN this is the ‘biggy’ for 2018. We’ve worked on brand identit1y and packaging for a number of plant based brands – everything from ‘Facon’ (plant based bacon) to cheese and lupin protein ice cream. This trend will grow and grow and grow (excuse the plant based pun)

In terms of ‘other’ meat alternatives, algae is being touted as the next superfood as it is sustainable and offers twice the protein of meat.

Upcycled food
As we all become more and more aware of how much food is wasted, upcycled products made of ingredients and scraps that would otherwise have been discarded could potentially hold much more appeal.
In the US there are already juices made from imperfect fruit, crisps made from fruit pulp and snack bars made from the spent grain from the beer making process.

Filipino food
We’ve seen South East Asian, regional Indian, Korean, South American and a host of other country based food flavour innovations but there’s always the question ‘where next’? American palates are becoming more sophisticated and attuned to the complex flavours and bitter or sour notes of Filipino dishes that infuse both Asian and Latin flavours.

Alt-Sweet
With everyone on the rampage about sugar, consumers continue to look to alternative sweeteners for lower calories and less of a stigma about the so called ‘white death’! New sources of sweetener are predicted to be things like dates, sorghum, yacon, monk fruit and sun root. “One or two lumps of sun root in your tea sir?”

Back In Black
We had rainbow this and unicorn that (food wise) in 2017 so predictably for 2018 black is the new erm… black. Activated charcoal produced by heating coconut shells to extremely high temperatures until they are carbonized is gaining superfood status for its reported detoxifying attributes and is being used as a surprising twist in everything from pizza crust to lemonade to ice cream.

Root to stem.
‘Nose-to-tail’ is so 2015 so let’s push onto ‘root-to-stem’ cooking. This is all about using the entire fruit or vegetable, including things like stems or leaves that are less commonly eaten. Some really mouth-watering options are things like watermelon rinds, beet-green pesto, or broccoli-stem slaw. Food developers it’s time to get your game face on

Cannabis cuisine. As more states in the USA legalise recreational marijuana, the varieties of weed-enhanced food and beverages will increase. Look out for continued interest and acceptance in a host of snacks, treats, and beverages with a little something extra. We saw a Cannabis-based energy drink at SIAL back in 2016 so it’s not as ‘far out’ as you may think

A (deeper) feast from the Middle East
Foods like houmous, pitta and falafel were easy entry points for the USA. Surprisingly houmous is reasonably new player in the US but it’s huge these days. It’s predicted that consumers are going to become far more adventurous by investigating food from Iran, Israel, Morocco, Syria, and Lebanon. Spices like harissa, cardamom and za’atar are showing up on mainstream menus, as well as dishes like shakshuka.

Real bread
Although the US has also seen the explosion of gluten-free in the last few years, the traditional side of bakery has also been elevated by the same sourcing and fine-tuned production processes we see with proteins and vegetables. Bakers are using local grains, milling the day before baking, and incorporating long proving times, seeking to try and re-invent what good bread means.

 

Finally (the bonus bit) the Trendspotter Panel at the SFA says we’ll also be seeing even more: cricket flour; fermented foods; cocktail mixers and bitters for home use; savoury flavours where one would expect sweet; pasture-raised animals for welfare; bananas transformed into milks, snacks, frozen desserts, flours and baking mixes; collagen-infused foods; Moringa as a new superfood; mushroom extracts as a functional ingredient in everything from chocolate to lattes.

Make mine an activated charcoal dusted facon steak with a side of cabbage root slaw all washed down with a mushroom latte… Yum!

Hang on a minute… banana’s that make milk… the world’s gone mad!

Words by James Acton