Yearly trend lists, until now, typically only report on trends that have already passed initial emergence stage and are already on mainstream and social media radars. By leveraging the AI technology of Spoonshot, a food innovation intelligence platform, experts predict the trends before they happen. This proprietary early prediction methodology makes it possible for restaurants, foodservice, and CPG companies to get a jump on their LTOs, menu planning, and innovation pipelines to develop and release products in a timelier manner, staying ahead of their competitors.
Spoonshot analyzes billions of data points, across 22 different types of data, spanning more than 950 long-tail data sources. These include scientific journals, niche food communities, and social commerce platforms. By leveraging food science data and research, Spoonshot connects seemingly disparate dots between these data sets using AI to uncover new innovation opportunities.
From that data, here are 11 leading-edge culinary trend predictions that will shape food and beverage future innovations into 2022:
The vilification of sugar is real. With continued mounting pressure from consumers to reduce product sugar content, CPG companies are rushing to find a new gold standard of sweetness. Both changes in FDA labeling requirements and food technology advancements are paving a path for two new approaches to sweetening. Sugar replacer, allulose is about to trend. Riding on the heels of the FDA’s decision to exclude allulose, a sweetener derived from wheat and certain fruits from the total and added sugar declarations on nutritional facts panels, allulose is alluring to recipe creators and product developers.
Taking a food tech approach, Nestlé and Doux Matok are focused on maximizing the efficiency of sugar to provide products with the same perceived sweetness but by using up to 40 percent less of it. Look for both allulose and sugar reduction technologies to trend into 2021 and beyond.
The chickpea began its journey to greatness at some point in the early 2000s when hummus migrated from Middle-Eastern eateries and into grocery stores across the U.S. Americans have continued to adopt chickpea-based products in many forms since. The experimentation happening now with both chickpea flour and aquafaba (chickpea soaking water) is the springboard for future chickpea-based trends. Flatbreads and crusts made from chickpea flour will migrate from Italy and France onto American menus and into frozen food sections. Look for socca flatbreads and fainâ based pizzas to hit restaurants near you. Dairy-free ice cream, macarons and meringues made with aquafaba will also take center stage into 2021 as consumers clamor for plant-based versions of their favorite sweets.
Last year, flavored compound butters and MCT-laden products were popular ingredients on menus and targets for product development consideration and food philosophy adoption. There continues to be conflicting information regarding the health benefits or hazards of these saturated fat sources. One fat that has always been connected to healthful eating, now has even more evidence of benefit. Emerging research on good ol’ olive oil points to both Elenolide, a chemical component of olive oil that has proven anti-hypertensive properties as well as tyrosol, a compound that’s protective against neurodegenerative diseases. 2020 will see a return to the liberal use of extra-virgin olive oil as the favored fat and a move away from coconut oil.
The popularity of plant-based eating has emphasized the planetary benefits of going vegan. It also, however, showcases a major health deficit created by doing so. HYP, (Hydroxyproline) an amino acid crucial to collagen production in the human body is often deficient in people who avoid animal products. Enter carob, which is high in HYP, fiber, calcium, iron, antioxidants and protein. Carob also is gluten-free, caffeine-free, naturally sweet and low carb. These factors all add up to make it the next superfood darling. Despite its bad reputation as a 1970s chocolate replacer, carob is set to redefine its role to a collagen supportive ingredient for vegetarians. Look for it in coffee innovations, syrups, RTD beverage, baked goods, bars and powders.
Global flavor mash-ups certainly aren’t new, but experimentation blending both the umami and sweet flavor profiles is starting to branch out in “interesting” and exciting new ways. Though you might at first turn your nose up at the thought of umami- rich seaweed paired with sweet caramel, or fish sauce and burned sugar, there are solid flavor pairing philosophies supporting these mash-ups. Consumers are starting to wrap their heads around the idea of flavor experience- it’s what makes accepted favorites like maple bacon doughnuts, apple pie with cheddar and Garrett’s Popcorn cheese and caramel mix so popular. We’ll start to see more experimentation with global umami and sweet into 2021.
While there's still a bit of confusion surrounding the legality of CBD, it hasn’t stopped the plant medicine from becoming a worldwide phenomenon. For those still leery of crossing the legal line in search of a remedy for inflammation, chronic pain, and anxiety, Copaiba may be the answer. Copaiba, a completely legal essential oil derived from the resin of the Copaifera tree contains terpenes that interacts with the endocannabinoid system in the body to purportedly provide similar therapeutic benefits to CBD. Added sparingly to elixirs and edibles, copaiba has a woodsy, sweet flavor and aroma conducive to relaxation. Look for copaiba to appear as an ingredient call-out beginning in the natural and organic space.
Climate change is top of mind. It seems the world is in dire peril and the time to change course is now. Vegans have been doing their part to combat climate change by avoiding meat for years, but a more comprehensive approach is coming. This includes elimination of all foods with a high carbon footprint; such as meat and cheese, eating only locally grown and seasonal foods and avoiding products that exploit animals at risk from climate change. Foods to add to a climatarian diet would include algae, seaweed, pulses, grains and legumes, invasive species of plants, fish, and insects.
Recent food trends seem to exist at opposite ends of the healthy eating spectrum. From beefy burgers to plant-based patties, mezcal to mocktails, gold-flecked sundaes to medicinal mushroom coffee, consumers are vacillating between decadence and detoxification. 2020 will usher in a year of foodie bipartisanship where the path to the plate will be paved with more moderate choices.
Reductitarians will win the day. Getting carnivores to permanently swap their meat for pea protein is not a winning proposition. More likely is a diet comprised of less meat rather than complete elimination. We’ll see a surge in menu items and products using the 50/50 method; substituting half the amount of meat for plant; or half the dairy for nut milk.
Clean living feels great, sometimes, but for the average American adult, imbibing with an alcoholic beverage often equates to being social and therefore isn’t going away anytime soon. Rather than choosing to regularly enjoy a boozy milkshake, or a Japanese whisky highball, or abstaining altogether, beverages that employ a light and refreshing approach with lower ABV options will better appease the base.
While fun to photograph and try ONCE, extreme food fads don’t last. From an entire bowl of edible cookie dough wrapped in rainbow cotton candy, to a cheese sauce smothered 5-pound burger, decadent, made- for- Instagram creations are on one side of the food spectrum. On the other, functionally formulated food and beverage products designed for wellness without much concern for flavor, texture or even efficacy ... The moderate choice? Thoughtfully crafted food and beverage made with healthy ingredients in moderate portions with balanced flavor and efficacious amounts of beneficial ingredients.
A culinary and hospitality industry expert and consultant, Liz Moskow provides culinary infused strategic thought leadership for CPG food and beverage development, foodservice product and menu innovation and hospitality wellness integration. Liz is a leading Food Trendologist tracking, uncovering and predicting the future of food and beverage: Author of many creative culinary publications, Liz is an Industry expert quoted in and contributing to multiple food articles in industry trade publications, and newspapers; The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Forbes, USA Today and many others.