2018 Trend Top Ten

An overview of what's happening in the culinary world

1. Food Waste

There are several organizations that are working diligently to help reduce the amount of food waste in our agricultural and supply chain food systems.

According to Jenny Rothenberg, Audience Development Coordinator at Industry Dive, “Food waste has been a growing issue in the United States, as approximately 31% — or 133 billion pounds — of overall food supply is wasted.”

In addition to not feeding needy people, “The waste is also affecting the environment, as it is the third largest contributor of methane emissions in the United States.”

Here are some statistics:

  •   1 in 7 perishable truckloads are eventually tossed after being delivered to supermarkets
  •   1.3 billion tons of food are wasted around the world annually
  •   42.2 million Americans live in food insecure households
  •   109.4 The number of pounds of food waste, per person, that the EPA and USDA aim to reduce by 2030. The national goal also calls for a reduction of 66 billion pounds of food waste at the retail and consumer level. Both of these goals represent a 50% reduction in current levels.
  •   103 The number of operational U.S. anaerobic digestion facilities that process food waste, including farms or wastewater treatment plants that accept food waste as a feedstock. The American Biogas Council reports there are only 39 stand-alone food waste biogas systems.

Several supermarket chains nationally are doing their part to help with waste.  For example, Whole Foods has a program called “Waste not.” They’re attempting to combine traditionally discarded produce parts to revive creative culinary recipes. Examples include pickled watermelon rinds, beet-green pesto and broccoli-stem slaw.

This trend will not only manifest itself in new products (as a result of using scraps and trim in new applications, and new ways to use food waste as fertilizer, etc.), it will become a legitimate concern for consumers who not only want to know where their food came from, they want to know what happens to the food waste as a result of their food purchases.

2. Breakfast Service in Established Restaurants

We see this in Chicago in restaurants like The Purple Pig, and Beatrix – established restaurants are expanding their menus to accommodate different customers and day parts.

The new interpretations of breakfast these established restaurants have been inspiring and innovative.  We’ll keep an eye on this trend and report back some of these innovations in a blog post with a recipe or two…

3. Bitcoins and alternate international currencies

The Wall Street Journal speaks about this new financial exchange, “Goldman Sachs Explores Bitcoin . . .

Fascinating to watch this unregulated, alternate currency that was initially viewed as havens for illicit activity pushing further into the mainstream investment world.  Bitcoin is a digital currency that runs on a decentralized network of computers, rather than a centralized ledger under the control of a central bank or government. Users can exchange value directly, without a middleman such as a bank.  What we see is many large financial institutions be wary of venturing directly into a market whose early enthusiasts included anarchists and drug dealers.

This newly derived financial market will affect the food world in unique ways. Digital-currency proponents envision a world where coins will be widely accepted by online retailers and companies will use the tokens for cross-border commerce.  Complete open trade in any market with limited regulation on the products sold and traded could easily create food supply chains that don’t currently exist.

4. Virtual Restaurants

“One element in the success of virtual restaurants seems to be specialization,” says Green Summit’s Todd Millman. That makes sense, especially when you consider the original virtual restaurant, Domino’s, whose success predates the internet and continues. How many people regularly order pizza without having the faintest clue where the nearest storefront is located?

There are several app-driven food suppliers out there, arguably one of the largest, is Grubhub. It is so invested in virtual restaurants that two years ago it lent one of its own customers, Green Summit Group, $1 million to expand. Green Summit, which launched in 2013, has kitchens throughout New York City, Todd Millman, its co-founder, says. “There might be up to 10 different “restaurants” In a single kitchen. Though they appear on Grubhub as separate establishments, each with a distinct cuisine, all the food might be prepared in the same kitchen by the same staff.”

5. Robotic Food Preparation

Chowbotics is on the bleeding edge of New Food Studio’s trends for 2018, however, they’re on track with several applications of robotic food preparation technology in formats that support fast-causal, quick-serve, commissary, supermarket, and kiosk-style dining.

Watch this video demonstrating “Sally” their salad-making robot. . .

Several key aspects of this technology could easily cut back-of-the-house costs, and keep food costs and waste at a minimum.  Robotics in the food industry is a fascinating emerging trend and one we’ll keep watching as competition begins to expand in this market.

6. High Tech and Plant Based

High-tech, plant-based food products are all over the place. From “bleeding” vegan burgers to sushi-grade “not-tuna” made from tomatoes, an emerging crop of plant-based products are designed to appeal to vegetarians and carnivores alike. Ingredients such as pili nuts, peas, bananas, macadamia nuts, pecans and avocado stand in for dairy in new yogurt, ice cream and milk products.  Here are a few examples we’ve liked: VioLife cheese products (these were a total delicious surprise for us); Modern Table; Beyond Meat

7. The Complexity of Flavor

Expect to see more of this in combinations like: lime mint elderflower, and, ginger citrus coffee. Across multiple platforms from snacking to beverages . . .

Pringles has an edge on experimentation with this and has offered several fun flavors in the past like, Screamin’ Dill Pickle; Cheese Burger; Top Ramen Chicken; Fiery Chili Lime

8. That Fermented Feeling

Fermented foods and probiotics trends aren’t going away, growing interest in gut health has propelled probiotics and less-processed, easier-to-digest foods, paving the way for an assortment of more naturally derived packaged foods.  Additionally, spurring home cooks to create their own yogurt, fermented beverages, aged alcohols, and vinegars.

One of these fermented products is a variety of pizza called “Pinsa.”  We’ve seen several restaurants in San Francisco, and Brooklyn, as well as globally via the restaurant group Healthy Pinsa featuring these pizzas made with fermented doughs.  Some of our favorites include: Montescaro Pinseria Enoteca; PinsaLab; Healthy Pinsa.

Anecdotal evidence reports the advantage of these types of fermented doughs cook up bubblier and the resulting crust is crispier.  Also, they can absorb more water so you get fuller faster and eat less. Some say the fermentation process helps with digestion as well, likely making these pinsas actually good for you to eat…

9. Produce Butchers

For those that can’t, won’t, or haven’t a desire to slice, dice and chop produce, several supermarkets, like Whole Foods, Fresh Thyme, and Trader Joe’s have incorporated “vegetable butchers” that can take the drudgery of meal preparation out of your complicated schedule. Just bring your produce to the counter and have them cut it anyway you’d like. Simple…

10. Add Water and Stir?

Food preparation videos of indulgent foods aimed at the novice cook all made with the simplest of equipment (think, one pot or pan, a stove top, an oven, a mixing bowl, a whisk, and a spatula).  Most of these recipes rely heavily on packaged/prepared consumer products, and most aren’t aimed at the health-conscious consumer. Here are a few Instagram examples: The Hungry Friends; Foodburg; So Yummy; FoodyDIY; Buzz Feed Tasty. . .

A great white space to play in this outlet might be for health-focused CPG manufacturers.  If you’re one of those, reach out to New Food Studio – we’d jump at a chance to help showcase your ingredients in simple to create, great tasting recipes…