Factoid: “Popcorn is THE snack of 2013: Sweet or savory, the all-time favorite (and healthy) snack will pop up everywhere – in ice cream, as croutons”… et al PR Newswire
Those of us who have long been tossing popcorn on our bowls of chili, rejoice! We’re trending “hot” in the world of food research and fortune-telling – witness the news flash above. Gleaned from a feast of press releases and future-thinking articles, here’s the food picture for 2013…boiled down to six points:
1. The Year of the Vegetable: More than salads and green bean casseroles, veggies will be on the front burner and starring as entrées – here, have some artichoke lasagna, a spinach burrito or Martha Stewart’s broccoli calzones. They’ve even made it to dessert, like the very chic celery sorbet served at Del Posto in Manhattan. And, okay, who doesn’t love carrot cake?
2. Breakfast all day: Eggs, pancakes, waffles, cereal bars, protein shakes – why stop in the AM? Supermarket Guru says that with food costs on the rise, many take protein-rich breakfast foods into other day parts as a way to save money and eat more or less healthfully (McDonald’s Big Breakfast w/Hotcakes at 1,090 calories and 2,150 mg of sodium doesn’t count). Besides being cheaper, breakfast is a symbol of home and, therefore, comfort. Big trend.
3. Munchie Heaven: Confession: we’re going to be snacking. Research firm Technomic reports nearly half (48%) of those polled say they’re snacking at least twice a day, compared to 25% in 2010. The food industry can’t be totally in the driver’s seat here, but can provide portion-smart, nutrient-rich nibbles to aim this trend in the right direction – and capture a friendly market.
4. Asia infiltrates American palates: Spicy, savory, zingy flavors from Thailand, Vietnam and Korea make this a year for “destination” flavors. Effective use of flavor will continue to drive value and customer satisfaction. Culinary Visions says look for ginger, cinnamon, exotic citrus, sriracha (popular Thai hot sauce) and “sweet-heat”. Maybe add Tums.
5. The New Proteins: The USDA estimates that beef and chicken prices will increase at least 5% due to the past year’s drought and declining supplies. Supermarket Guru says look for a major shift away from meat-based proteins and to international influences including Greek yogurt, Indian cuisines – also “meatless grilling” such as the veggie kebabs touted by Mayo Clinic.
6. “Ethical shopper” pressure: Consumers are asking for transparency, credibility and accountability from the food industry. This includes the “grey army” of boomers with buying clout, who see the role of nutrition in extending an active life; demand for “free-from” products such as fat-, sugar-, salt-, lactose- and gluten-free alternatives; and questions of whether processed foods can be called “natural.” As a result, look for more lawsuits facing brands falsely using terms such as natural, organic, artisanal and even “local.”
With these trends, as well as predictions for specialty flavored sparkling beverages (said to portend good times), catering to kids’ palates, pop-up eateries and pure-and-simple foods, this industry will see plenty of action.
Additional research/reports by Sterling-Rice Group, Baum + Whiteman, Innova Market Insights