Trending – The who’s who of food

Sep
2010
07

posted by on Food News

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Have you ever woken up in the morning, put on what you thought was an absolute cracker of an outfit & later walked into a public space only to feel completely self-conscious because other people seemed to be wearing something entirely more haute than you? This is not that kind of trend, my sweetheart. We’re not about making you feel bad here! No fashion faux pas or hairy eyeballs going on at all! We don’t mind if you’re sitting at home reading this in a set of frayed jimmy jams or even in your girlfriend’s naughty lingerie. Who are we to judge?

No, no, this is about food trends, darlings. Those flavours that drive your purchase habits, and make you salivate. It may even be that it doesn’t make you salivate as much as it fills a gap (horror of all horrors). You may not even be aware of it, but there are a bunch of folk out there like me who watch people like you – not in a freaky way, of course – and track your shopping habits & turn them into big impressive graphs with lots of pretty colours & use that information to predict where food trends are going & what is going to be the next ‘flavour of the month’ so to speak. So when you pop down to your local local and unconsciously grab a bag of tomato-flavoured corn chips & a crème soda drink, you’re not entirely making an impulse purchase - you’re telling people like me what you want, how often you want it, where you’re going to buy it & what you’re paying for it. That’s trend analysis.

When I was still a small fry in this big business of product development, I always imagined the major indicators & drivers in food trends would continually feature key words like fair trade, organic, free-range, carbon-footprint reduction, food miles… To a certain degree yes, but in actual fact what consumers say they want (all of the aforementioned), and what they actually spend on, are very different things. Why does this happen? Perception, darlings. We say we’re focused on clean label & social responsibility, but we’re not really. We want others to know that we care about the world, yet our actions have a surprisingly different undertone. We know people who claim veganism, yet wear leather sandals; those that only buy recyclable, yet don’t separate their waste materials or use a recycling service. This is what is referred to as ‘Green Echo’, almost there, but not quite. It’s not to say that we’re all naughty, dishonest people. It’s on our agendas, but not top priority. The Wholewheat Sandals Brigade hasn’t taken over the world just yet.

Internationally-speaking, there are a number of trends that see us taking steps to get to a happier, healthier world:

The Food Craft Movement: A term that groups a number of recent (and for a chef, very awesome) trends together - street food, artisan food, slow food & DIY food. It’s all about taking the focus away from prepared & processed food, and focusing on the integrity of the ingredients & self-preparation. We see this locally in the introduction of more weekly food markets, where traders bring the quality of food on offer up phenomenally & show us how we should be eating. It’s all about keeping it real, y’all.

Ethnic Food: This describes a trend in the US particularly where there are a number of different ethnic groups. Focus is less on that greasy all-American hamburger as a meal option – consumers are being more adventurous with much higher quality Mexican, Italian, Asian, Caribbean & African cuisines becoming available. More product is being grown & produced in the US, which reduces imports and thus food miles, which makes for a better solution for global food cravings.

Mainstream Sustainability: There is an enormous amount of pressure that’s being placed on the major food corporations & retailers around the world to become more responsible in their business practices. This pressure translates to greater local & sustainable buying in as many sectors as possible. Packaging reflects this very well: bamboo, biodegradable, compostable are words we see & hear more often. When it cascades down from the big players, it becomes far easier to adapt those principles to our lifestyles, so as consumers we need to keep applying the pressure.

Flavour-wise, we’re seeing an emergence of some new & interesting ingredients. The top 3 flavours that are being used in product development globally at the moment are Quince, Chimichurri (a spicy Argentine sauce or marinade) and believe it or not, Baobab. How about them apples!? It’s currently being used to flavour tea & soft drinks. In a savory flavour sense, tomato, cheese & chicken continue to dominate due to demand.  A bit boring if you ask me, but there we are nonetheless.

“Trending really is about you. It’s the rise of the individual. While sharing has come into its own in restaurant concepts, there is a separate but equal trend toward individuality. It’s part of the reason why we are making our own cheese, smoking our own meats, and making our own specialty desserts. Expect more attention to the individual, but it’s not just about portion size—it’s also about food that reflects personality. With the decline of the economy, it’s more important than ever that you have a voice.” International Food Futurists®

Viva, my fellow Nomrades, VIVA!

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