See how 2018 food trends will shift the food culture next year.
What do you anticipate eating in 2018?
It’s strange to think of the food industry as having trends akin to the fashion industry, but it’s true. 2018 foodie culture is driving an increase in innovation, and aspiring chefs and entrepreneurs are excited to create their own disruption in the industry that is on its way to hitting over a trillion dollars annually. As 2018 food trends gain clarity, the market is poised to deliver.
Companies want to know what their customers are interested in eating, and entrepreneurs will want to capitalize on any gap they might see in the market. Just as technology will continue to grow and evolve, so will the food industry. Only time will tell which industry turns out a disruptive innovation and which does not.
Here are five 2018 food trends you can expect to see in the next year. Which food trend are you most excited about?
One of the biggest 2018 food trends is food e-commerce. According to Washington State University, “Specialty foods, concierge shopping, and subscription meal services are emerging leaders, evidenced by the fact that one-fourth of U.S. adults have purchased specialty foods online.”
This food trend includes meal delivery subscription services such as Blue Apron or Hellofresh: companies that deliver fresh food and recipes directly to your door for a monthly fee.
However, this food trend also includes the increase in online grocery shopping: a market that Amazon is currently trying to capitalize on. Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods Market was a part of the retail giant’s bigger plan to move into grocery sales.
With over 400 Whole Foods locations, this acquisition allows Amazon to be closer to a large selection of new customers, potentially opening the door for fresher online grocery deliveries. Whole Foods has already seen a drop in prices and an increase in interest from investors—a positive sign for its new parent company.
But what has been leading this food trend towards online grocery shopping recently? It’s been an option for about a decade, but only in the last year has this food trend really taken off.
Just as with many other 2018 food trends, the convenience and prevalence of mobile devices has had a major impact on food culture. Now, more and more entrepreneurs are capitalizing on the cultural shift in the food industry.
Companies that previously had nothing to do with food are suddenly drawing an interest, and we will continue to see a food culture shift over the next decade.
People will always need to eat, and entrepreneurs will always find a new way to get people what they want for cheaper and faster than before.
More and Different Superfoods
The food industry is moving away from the more traditional, overly processed meals of yesteryear and heading in the direction of ancient whole grains, vitamin- or mineral-rich vegetables, and meals packed with protein.
The whole-grain food trend can be linked to the ever-increasing interest in gluten-free foods. Sorghum, teff, buckwheat, and quinoa have all seen an increasing interest in the specialty food aisles for a few years.
Now, however, restaurants and chefs are becoming increasingly interested in utilizing these grains in regular dishes, and customers are eager to try their concoctions.
International varieties of vegetables are also seeing an increased interest as many of them are labeled “superfoods” for being packed full of vitamins, proteins, and minerals.
Some superfoods even offer additional health benefits, such as anti-inflammatory properties or probiotics. According to Healthline, 2018 might see the introduction of more food such as nut oils, maqui berries, chaga mushrooms, and tiger nuts.
The protein food trend is also going to be big in the coming year, alongside another food trend: plant-based diets. Consumers that make the switch from meat to vegetarian or vegan diets will need to find protein alternatives in either their grains, vegetables, legumes, or nuts.
Grocery stores that want to keep up with this demand will need to make adjustments in the types and varieties of food they carry.
Faux Meat and Plant-based Diets
The plant-based diet food trend is more than a movement to support animal welfare; it’s also becoming an environmental movement. Greenhouse gases created as a byproduct of livestock is only a portion of the issue. There is also concern that livestock farms are destroying natural habitats for thousands of endangered species, particularly in Brazil—the world’s largest exporter of red meat. As the population of the world grows, so will the population and size of livestock farms.
In an effort to combat this, there has been an increased emphasis among scientists to switch from beef to beans, especially in the United States. The movement encourages consumers to abandon regular protein sources for more plant-based versions, both as a way to curb habitat destruction and to encourage a healthy diet.
This new food trend in health science is known as environmental nutrition, and it’s making its way through the food industry. Already, you can easily find a selection of plant-based burgers that bleed (just like their meat counterparts), or even jackfruit disguised as faux chicken.
It might be difficult to convince the millions of consumers in the U.S. to make the switch to a vegetarian diet, but as the demand increases, so will the varieties of options.
Transparency in Food Waste
Another 2018 food trend that could impact the environment within the next decade is the increased awareness in food waste and food recycling.The U.S., unfortunately, is the world leader in terms of food waste. According to research presented in the Guardian from 2016, roughly 50 percent of all plant produce in the country is thrown away. That’s about one third of all “foodstuff” in America—about 60 million tons worth of produce.
Already, some restaurants are considering how their waste could be recycled or composted to prevent unnecessary waste. Composting has picked up in popularity, and many restaurants are also using food scraps—think broccoli stems, carrot greens, or potato peelings — as a way to make unique creations for their daily menus.
Outside of composting and repurposing scraps, businesses are also looking for ways to recycle their less conventional waste such as cooking oil and grease. Companies that specialize in recycling oil, such as SeQuential, offer both restaurants and individuals with the option of disposing their grease and cooking oil with them to recycle it into biodiesel.
SeQuential, in particular, has been doing this process since 2002, but has grown to become one of the only domestic collectors, producers, and sellers of biodiesel in the United States. Hopefully as businesses like this grow in production, their popularity among restaurants will increase as well.
These 2018 food trends are rising in popularity thanks to an increased emphasis on renewable energy and transparency in food waste. Down the road, companies such as this could even have an effect on the automobile industry: incentivizing car companies to switch from traditional gasoline use to biodiesel.
Sour Craft Beers and Craft Spirits
The craft beer trend has been steadily growing for the past seven years. Instead of creating traditional ales or darker concoctions, breweries are starting to see an interest in sour beers and lagers.
Both of these beer trends are inspired by traditional European-style beers, but with their own unique and experimental twist. Sour beers, especially, are growing in popularity and flavor as brewers try to find the most “pucker-you-up” punchy creations.
However, craft beer has had its day, and now the craft movement is slowly shifting from breweries to distilleries.
In 2015, according to a study from the American Craft Spirits Association (and highlighted by Fortune Magazine), craft spirits were able to bring in about $2.4 billion dollars across the nation, and that movement has only picked up speed since then.
Now, distillers across the nation are banking on wholesalers and local bars or customers that can help keep their demand high. There’s hope within the industry that “craft” products will see the same level of popularity as their brewery counterparts.
What is it about a “craft” label that makes drinks and other products so desireable? According to the Brewers Association (BA), a craft label means a brewery is “small, independent, traditional, and innovative.” As for the American Craft Spirits Association, a craft spirit constitutes as small batch creations that produce less than 750,000 proof gallons annually and are not controlled by larger suppliers.
Essentially, these businesses are dependent on their local communities, and are often favored over the national or international varieties. The locations, unique creations, and limited supplies keep customers coming back for more.