Still have avocado toast on the menu? Maybe it’s time to reconsider.
It’s that time of year again, when the foodservice industry starts projecting into 2019. What trends are right around the corner? What should restaurants prepare to be in demand?
As an expert in the vanilla industry, Nielsen-Massey keeps a close eye on flavor trends—especially dessert flavor trends—and is perfectly positioned to see what’s poised to take off and fizzle out in the next year. The company’s Flavor Guide is jam-packed with seasoned insights from its Culinary Council. Here are a few new trends the council predicts will be big, a few they think have run their course, and a few that will continue to show appeal.
Color, color, color! Instagram is transforming foodservice, with consumers eating with their eyes now more than ever. “Instagram is a huge driver in dessert aesthetics, and lots of bright colors are catching the eyes of consumers,” says Jenny McCoy, pastry chef and Flavor Guide contributor. She sees a lot of potential in the trend in 2019, but, unless food can be successfully colored in a natural way, she doesn’t see colored food having lasting appeal. “Eventually we will return to our ideas that food coloring isn’t really all that great to consume,” she notes.
Fermented foods. Following the surge in Asian food like Korean with its kimchi and fermented sauces, McCoy sees a new wave of preservation taking hold in the culinary world and chefs getting geeky about it. “It’s also incredibly healthful,” she says. “My prediction is that this trend will just keep going and going, and trickle into fast casual and fast foodservice.”
The rise of the eclair. Filled choux pastry will invade the U.S. market as the next macaron or cupcake, predicts Scott Green, pastry chef and author of the “Devil’s Food Kitchen” baking and pastry blog. “Already in France, choux pastry has become increasingly popular, with choux- and eclair-specific shops opening under big pastry names,” he says. “It’s only a matter of time before the traditional eclair makes a mainstream entrance in America.”
Alternative and less sugar. Sugar hasn’t been popular for a while, but as consumer tastes move away from too-sweet items and diabetes continues to be a pandemic, McCoy foresees pastry chefs looking for ways to make sweets with less sugar or alternatives to refined sugar. “This will definitely lead the way for the future of desserts,” she says. “I don’t think consumers are going to return to consuming lots of sugar.”
Bakeries inside full-service restaurants. To attract more morning customers, McCoy sees full-service restaurants expanding their grab-and-go pastry and coffee options. This will result, she thinks, in more small and neighborhood bakeries. “As bakers realize there is a market for artisan baked goods at a higher price point, more will take the risk and open up brick-and-mortar businesses,” McCoy says.
Toasts. “Avocado toast, mermaid toast … just toasts in general,” McCoy says. “They have been really overdone.”
Unicorn everything. “Again, it’s been so overdone,” McCoy says.
Hyper-local cooking. While Green appreciates the idea behind hyper-local cooking, respects pioneers in the movement, and supports local business, at the end of the day, he embraces the unique ability of a modern, global economy to explore and use worldly flavors and ingredients. “Cook hyper local when you can, explore the world when you can’t,” he says.
What will carry on?
Gluten-free. “This is definitely not a trend,” McCoy says, “but a mainstay.”
Ugly Produce. As more chefs are concerned about sourcing and how they can help reduce food waste, McCoy and Green see this trend becoming the norm. “Ugly produce is more than a trend, it’s a cultural shift that’s imperative as factors like the environment and rising global population are forcing us to change the way we grow, buy, and eat our food,” Green says.
No one can see into the future for sure, but, with their expertise in the industry, the folks at Nielsen-Massey can get pretty darn close when it comes to dessert and flavor trends. Perhaps it’s time to retire the avocado toast in place of a colorful eclair on the menu instead.