8. Savory Rules
Surprise! Your Christmas cookie has cheese in it. Sweet has been supplanted by savory, and it could be the souring of the American tongue that is to blame. Can we say it’s due to Millennials who have existed on a diet of sour Gummy worms? Maybe not, but we are more inclined toward tastes of vinegar, sour, and fermented, especially when it comes with a health benefit.
Sour flavors have been making their way into the mainstream as cultural flavors, preparation and ingredients are embraced. Not to mention the health halo of fermented foods. Sour beers have been popular enough to elicit their own events and festivals.
Stone Brewing in California, one of the largest craft brewers in the country, recently revealed it’s releasing a sour beer (its first) brewed with apricots. Gochujang has long been anticipated to be the usurper to sriracha’s throne—the Korean hot sauce uses fermented soybean powder to give it unique flavor. Even hard cider is getting into the act: Catawba Brewing Co. and Bold Rock Hard Cider released Riverkeeper Apple Sour Ale just last summer.
9. Underserved Food Regions Becoming New Regional Flavors
Consumers’ demand for unique cuisines has driven them to turn their attention to regional specialties and better defined regional cuisine. Instead of simply “Southern” flavors, now we have Nashville hot or Carolina sweet. Instead of “Northeastern,” we have Appalachian. This is not just limited to menus, but also to what people are planting and growing—raising regional crops in order to explore heritage and heirloom flavors and ingredients.
We’re seeing food stories develop as regional stories, with heirloom recipes, new flavors, and new food experiences—and appealing to generations that may have never been exposed to them before. It’s a shift away from national grocery availability into limited and regional availability, and this is a trend to watch.
10. Buy or Be Bought
We aren’t afraid to say it: e-commerce is changing the shape of food retail. We heard the collective gasp when Amazon bought Whole Foods, apparently just in time to set the agenda around how brick and mortar can play nicely with e-commerce. That’s last year’s story.
We believe next year is about the integration and expect some major changes in how we buy our food. e-commerce has already reshaped every aspect of dining, from changing consumer expectations for delivery times to creating employee-less concepts that invite consumers to pay through their phone.
This has led to the creation of concepts like David Chang’s new Ando restaurant, which is app-order and delivery only, partnering with Uber Eats for delivery. e-commerce has also had leveled the playing field for meal solutions, leading to the development of “grocerants” and the designation of the grocery store as more of a food service hub in the minds of consumers.
Keep in mind this isn’t about technology innovation, although the evidence speaks to that. The real trend is in the idea of how two worlds collide and what the consumer will get in the mashup.
BONUS: The New Napa
We can’t leave these trends without at least mentioning what’s happening in the world of food due to environmental conditions. The wine industry is reeling from the devastation of natural disasters and wildfires. This is raising the awareness of and interest in wineries from non-traditional regions.
We’re seeing Midwest wines get some attention around its Ozarks wine trail, for example. This pivot point could mean Napa is no longer seen as the only true wine destination, as consumers adapt to new wine tastes and expectations.
Thanks to the panelists—chefs, editors, and those in the food industry—who weighed in and helped us choose from a long list of trends. We welcome your feedback and ideas, too. Leave a comment and let us know what you believe the biggest trends impacting the world of food will be in 2018.
For a look at our complete 2018 Food Trend Report, Click here!
For past trend reports, check these links: