As 2016 comes to a close and we near the new year, analysts are publishing their predictions of what foods and beverages will be most popular on menus and in stores. Read on for SmartBrief’s summary of what to expect in 2017.
Bold global flavors come to breakfast
Global flavors have been a hot trend in 2016, but analysts are expecting them to influence the morning meal in earnest next year. Brazilian baked cheese bread, Lebanese flatbreads and kaya toast from Singapore are all ripe for interpretation on US breakfast menus, Datassential Senior Publications Specialist Renee Lee wrote earlier this year. Ethnic-inspired breakfast items were No. 6 on the National Restaurant Association’s 2017 What’s Hot Culinary Forecast, which analyzed survey results from nearly 1,300 professional chefs. Consulting company Baum+Whiteman predicted that elaborate breakfast tacos will pop up on more menus as part of an overall trend toward breakfast foods with more assertive flavors and a variety of textures.
Fervor for fermented foods goes further
Fermented foods are another trend that started gaining steam this year, “driven in part by a growing desire for more varied flavors that is poised to turn into a cult-like practice of chefs everywhere,” Fern Glazer wrote in an analysis of top 2016 trends for Nation’s Restaurant News. Pickles, kimchi and sauerkraut were a few of the foods that gained popularity this year amid the craze for fermented foods, and in 2017 we will see “chefs diving deeper into fermentation and the mechanisms that make fermentation happen,” food consultant Kara Nielsen said. Chefs will take in-house fermentation down to the “bacterial level,” Nielsen said, using ingredients such as koji — a fungus that is responsible for the process that turns soybeans into soy sauce and can be used to inoculate other foods.
Doing more with meat
Specialty butchers and new cuts of meat that encourage consumers to eat parts of animals that normally go to waste are predicted to gain popularity. New cuts of meat were the top trend among chefs surveyed for NRA’s What’s Hot report. Cuts that could show up in more shops and restaurants next year include shoulder tender, oyster steak, Vegas Strip Steak and Merlot cut. Butcher shops attached to restaurants could help introduce these new cuts to customers and promote a “butcher-to-table” trend, according to the trend report from Baum+Whiteman, which predicted a rise in artisan butchers.
Botanicals bloom in beverages
In beverages, one of the fastest-rising trends in both cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks is botanical ingredients. Botanicals can be used to expand the taste spectrum, said Nielsen, who pointed to the growing number of non-beer beverages that use hops to add a bitter flavor. Floral and botanical notes such as hibiscus and lavender were among the top trends named by Comax Flavors in the company’s 2017 trend prediction. Whole Foods is anticipating a rise in popularity for wellness tonics made with botanicals and herbs, the Santa Monica Observer reported.
The new kale is seaweed…and possibly new kale
After taking menus by storm in years past, kale seems to finally be slipping off the list of trendy foods. Kale salads landed on the list of trends labeled “Yesterday’s News” in NRA’s What’s Hot report. The decline of kale is sure to delight chefs who called for its retirement in a Huffington Post story in late 2015. However, a second wave of kale may be on the horizon, thanks to efforts by plant researchers to develop a new strain of kale, NPR reported.
Expected to replace kale as head of the leafy superfood category is seaweed, which earned mentions in trend reports from Baum+Whiteman, Whole Foods and Datassential, among others. “Seaweed certainly isn’t new to consumers, but operators are embracing new iterations, from shio kombu to farm-raised American wakame,” Datassential’s Mike Kostyo wrote in his analysis of 15 flavor trends to watch in 2017 and beyond.
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