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US Food Trends by Kelsey Revens

Last week, we welcomed Kelsey Revens from PROI partner agency 360 PR in Boston to Publicasity Towers. She spilled the beans on food trends from across the pond…

By definition, a trend is something that’s developing or changing in one direction. Hashtags trend on Twitter, fashion week sets trends for the next season of apparel and particularly in the food industry, what we eat and why is a frequently changing phenomena.
I recently attended a conference in New York where the restaurant consulting company Baum & Whiteman shared a list of top trends which are motivating and shaping US consumers’ behaviors, large food companies and small mom and pop shops. Here are what I found to be the top 10:
• Food delivery is king. And these people don’t even make the food. They are glorified logistics coordinators who provide a service in high demand and from that, can gather more data about consumers, their preferences and their dining behaviors.
• Remove artificial things from food. Get it out. People are moving away for making food choices based on price and are instead relying on values and quality, safe ingredients. There is also mistrust of large brands leading to small companies outselling the legacy players. In fact, branded food marketers lost 4% of market to entrepreneurs last year. When shopping, more consumers are asking who made it, what’s it made from and why is it for me?
• Food as a status symbol. Meals are transcending the plate and becoming a status symbol on social media in what is also being called “competitive fooding” – this idea of the experience being more motivating than the food itself. And brands are taking notice. Restaurant chain Chili’s pays high price for an egg wash that makes its burger buns shine, making for a better Instagram photo and incentivizing posting.
• Burnt veggies are in. Not unlike the ugly food movement, burnt veggies are the new charming side dish. Some claim a better taste but regardless, fire roasted is simply not enough. Veggies are also starting to take center stage, becoming the eye candy of the plate.
• Bye bye salted caramel, hello sriracha chip. This flavor trend is seen across categories, from frozen novelties to snacks and even cocktails, where spicy meets sweet.
• Turmeric. The spice of the year. Look to see this in everything from chips to pastas. According to Google Food Trends, search for this spice has risen 300% in the past five years.
• Alternative Noodles. Pasta sales are down 30% in Italy and 5% in the US due to the booming alternatives now made available via spiralized veggie noodles and other paleo and protein powder based options.
• New-ish Jewish. Modern Jewish cookery is becoming popular in culinary trends. Chefs are exploring their own heritage more and introducing recipe innovations like the pastrami quesadilla and artisanal bagels and lox.
• Fast Casual. It’s the only growing segment in restaurants and is now becoming a hot spot for top chefs, like seen with Mario Batali’s Eataly concept. They too want to expand beyond the traditional dining experience, knowing that this format is more popular and more cost effective.
• Bonkers for Bowls. People are going crazy for food in bowls – and the bowl is not a new innovation! But it’s become the most desired plating format for all foods – no longer just for sundaes but now serving sushi, burritos, acai and more. Bowls make it easier to make the food look good plus they’re portable.
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