2015 Food Trends

The following list of lists on food, beverage and nutritional product trends were compiled by Global Food Forums, Inc. Most reaffirm the importance of the content of our events, which are the Clean Label Conference and Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar.

List contributors include Innova Market InsightsTechnomic Inc., Sterling-Rice Group, Specialty Food Association, National Restaurant Association, McCormick, New Nutrition Business, Vogue, Agribusiness Council of Australia Ltd.

NOTE: If interested in proteins, also see our 2015 Protein Food, Beverages and Nutritional Products gallery. Also, please see our growing list of 2016 food, beverage and nutritional products trend lists.

2015 Food and Beverage Trends

Top 10 Food and Beverage Trends likely to impact the food industry in 2015 and beyond (from Innova Market Insights)

1. From Clean to Clear Label: Clean label claims are tracked on nearly a quarter of all food and beverage launches, with manufacturers increasingly highlighting the naturalness and origin of their products. With growing concerns over the lack of a definition of ‘natural’, however, there’s a need for more clarity and specific details. Consumers, retailers, industry and regulators are all driving more transparency in labeling.
2. Convenience for Fondles: Continued interest in home cooking has been driven by cooking shows on TV and by blogging foodies. It’s seen as fashionable, fun and social, as well as healthy and cost-effective. It has driven demand for a greater choice of fresh foods, ingredients for cooking from scratch and a wider use of recipe suggestions by manufacturers and retailers.
3. Marketing to Millennial: The so-called Millennial generation, generally aged between 15 and 35, now accounts for about a third of the global population and is tech savvy and socially engaged. They are well informed, want to try something different and are generally less brand loyal than older consumers. They want to connect with products and brands and know the story behind them.
4. Snacks Rise to the Occasion: Formal mealtimes are continuing to decline in popularity and growing numbers of foods and drinks are now considered to be snacks. Quick, healthy foods are tending to replace traditional meal occasions and more snacks are targeted at specific moments of consumption, with different demand influences at different times of day.
5. Good Fats, Good Curbs: With concerns over obesity, there is a growing emphasis on unsaturated and natural fats and oils that has seen rising interest in omega-3 fatty acid content, as well as the return of butter to favor as a natural, tasty alternative to artificial margarine that may be high in trans fats. In the same way, naturally occurring sugar is being favored at the expense of added sugars and artificial sweeteners.
6. More in Store for Protein: Ingredient suppliers, food producers and consumers are on the lookout for the next protein source. Soy protein is regarded as cheap and mainstream and therefore being less applied among NPLs tracked. Whey protein has been popular for some years and is still growing, while pulse protein is rapidly emerging. More algae protein applications are expected in the future. Further along insect protein may become big in various categories.
7. New Routes for Fruit: More product launches are being tracked with real fruit & vegetables, as they can function as coloring foodstuffs and in that role meet the increased demand for natural colors and flavors. Fruit and vegetable inclusions can add to the “permissible indulgence” character of a product. Consumers perceive a product to be healthier when it contains a real fruit or vegetable ingredient.
8. A Fresh Look at Frozen: In order to compete with the healthy appeal of fresh aisles and the convenience of canned foods, established frozen foods (vegetables and seafood) are focusing on freshness in their marketing, stressing the superior nutritional content in frozen food. Brand extensions include larger varieties in vegetables and fruits. At the same time the frozen segment is witnessing new product launch activity in new categories (e.g., soups, fruit, drinks, finger foods, sauces, pastries, herbs).
9. Private Label Powers On: Even through the worst of the economic recession is over, private label is still gaining market share in terms of new product launches in Europe, North America and Australasia. Store brands are here to stay and are found in all product segments. Discounters Aldi and Lidl are by consumers no longer solely seen as budget stores, but are accepted by the general public and considered to have good quality products.
10. Rich, Chewy & Crunch: Texture is an important driver for taste perception of food and beverages and is the focus of many of today’s food innovations. Brands are creatively combining textures with, for example, crispy inclusions, soft centers and extra crunchy toppings. Texture claims are shown more prominently on front-of-pack. Also brands are creative in describing texture or including a texture claim in a product name.

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2015 Food Trends (from Technomic, Inc.)
Technomic lays out 10 trends that its consultants and experts believe may be transformative in 2015. Predictions are based on Technomic research including consumer and operator surveys and site visits, backed up by data from its Digital Resource Library and vast MenuMonitor database.

1. Lights! Camera! Action!  Dining is no longer just a personal experience, but a staged event that imparts bragging rights. Plating and lighting are increasingly designed with phone snapshots and social-media sharing in mind. Customers collaborate to put on the show; menus, marketing, even charitable efforts are crowdsourced.
2. Small-minded.  Small is in: Diners demand petite plates and flexible portions; units are smaller with shrunken, laser-focused menus, multi-use equipment and expanded hours to leverage fixed costs; labor pressures mean leaner staffing and more technology (though a backlash is brewing as many diners seek to unplug and be waited on).
3. Foodservice everywhere.  Alternative forms of foodservice swallow share—from retailers’ ever-more-sophisticated onsite restaurants to fresh-food-and-drink vending to enterprises that deliver ingredients to your door. Meanwhile, in the restaurant world, fast casual shakes out, segment lines blur further, pop-ups proliferate and demand for tech-enabled delivery heats up.
4. Signature beverages. Cocktails may come in kegs; classics like the Negroni ride the retro wave but get competition from new wine, beer and cider cocktails; flavorful and flavored whiskeys trend up along with spiced rums and liqueurs. Operators are increasingly differentiating themselves with non-alcohol drinks, too—from handcrafted or small-batch sodas to pressed juices to health-halo teas.
5. There’s something about Asia. Asian foods have been trending for years, but the world’s biggest and fastest-moving continent always delivers something new. In 2015, look for the breakout of Korean, mainstreaming of Vietnamese and upscaling of spicy ramen noodles, the quintessential Asian street food.
6. Bitter is the new bold. Look for darker coffees, deeper chocolates, next-gen cruciferous veggies like cauliflower and collard greens, hoppy beers and cocktails with the bite of bitters.
7. DIY health. More consumers care about healthy eating—but what does that mean to them? Menus increasingly display pick-and-choose options for everyone from gluten-free eaters to vegans to paleo-diet partisans; offerings are switched out as nutrition fads and fashions come and go.
8. Micro-local. The stay-close-to-home spirit heightens interest in everything from house-purified water to regional seafood to locally manufactured products like beers and liquors. Even as the supply chain consolidates, specialty and citywide distributors gain share. An “anti-chain” ethos prompts chains and multiconcept operators to debut quasi-independent restaurants fine-tuned to local market demands.
9. Up with people.  The meaning of corporate social responsibility evolves as consumer concerns shift to the human factor. Diners care that restaurants deal fairly with their employees and offer opportunities for advancement. Others in the food chain also gain visibility as farmworker and Fair Trade movements win victories.
10. Channeling Z. The challenge of appealing to all ages intensifies as younger diners step up demands for speedy high-tech service, heightened experiences, louder music and kinetic visuals… and a new teen cohort of digital natives begins to make its voice heard.
— To inquire about food industry trend-tracking insights from Technomic, contact Chris Urban at 312-506-3929 or curban@technomic.com.

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2015 Cutting-Edge Culinary Trends (from the Sterling-Rice Group)
Next year, consumers’ food preferences will be driven by a continued interest in global cuisines, balanced nutrition, community connections, and a desire for adventurous eating experiences.

1. Advanced Asian: From Filipino food to a new generation of Thai, not one but a host of more complex and true-to-region Asian foods will dominate in 2015.
2. Matcha Madness: The never-ending quest for wellness and energy will lead many to Japanese matcha, a nutrient powerhouse green tea now hitting the market in convenient formats like lattes, sodas, and ready-to-drink cans.
3. Cannabis Cuisine: Edible marijuana moves far beyond cliched pot brownies. In states where it’s legal, look for new, sophisticated options from gluten-free baked goods and confections to bottled cold-brewed coffee and flavored syrups.
4. Hop-Free Suds: Channeling their medieval predecessors, craft brewers are making unhopped beers with herbs, spices, and bitter plants yielding unique and intriguing flavors instead of hoppy bitterness.
5. Incendiary Charcoal: Look for more excitement around Asian styles of super-hot burning charcoal as well as charcoal coloring and enhancing breads, crackers, and even cosmetics.
6. The Local Grain Network: Products made from freshly milled flour are making their way to consumers thanks to the growing network of farmers, bakers, and chefs committed to local grain production.
7. Coconut Sugar Sweetness: Boasting a lower glycemic index than white sugar makes coconut sugar popular among consumers—from natural food fans to sweets-loving Paleos to Southeast Asian food lovers—looking for better-for-you foods.
8. Farm to Table Kosher: With keeping kosher on the rise, kosher food businesses address consumer demand to eat in more sustainable, conscious, and cultural ways.
9. The Hunger Games—Restaurant Edition: Dining concept incubators create lively experiences where curious diners test experimental eateries and vote with their forks in revolving pop-up settings or hip dining parks.
10. The Ugly Fruit & Vegetable Movement: Misshapen and funny-looking produce will no longer get picked over as food resourcefulness and efforts to combat hunger come into sharper focus.
— compiled by Sterling-Rice Group’s (SRG) Culinary Director, Kara Nielsen

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Trend Forecast: 10 Predictions for Specialty Foods in 2015 (from the Specialty Food Association)

1. Fresh Food Delivery Arrives: It seems like everyone—from grocers to tech giants to the Postal Service—is testing new and improved ways to deliver groceries to consumers. In 2015, expect more trial periods to give way to full-fledged services.
2. Embracing Alternative Proteins: Several new products made their debut this year (some as early as last year), all with the goal of providing sustainable protein sources.
3. Tea’s Time: Although tea is second only to water as the most consumed beverage in the world, it has long taken a backseat to coffee in the U.S. Recent trends indicate that’s about to change.
4. Snack Bar Stampede: Snack-food and health bar companies are getting bolder with what they put into products, tempting shoppers with unusual ingredients and distinctive flavor profiles.
5. Asian Food Roots: While a love of Asian fare is nothing new for American consumers, there is a growing resurgence of the cuisine stateside that will see restaurants touting a new wave of Asian roots and regional specialties
6. Sweetener High: Stevia, maguey syrup, and other natural alternatives are ripe for growth thanks to the shunning of artificial sweeteners, and honey, agave, and maple are picking up as natural alternatives with high-end offerings.
7. Packaging Revolution: Food products have been experiencing a revolution for a few years now, and as shoppers become increasingly aware—and particular—about what they’re consuming, food labels will undergo a similar transformation to align with shifting expectations.
8. Super Bowls: Meals that pack a punch, conveniently tucked into portable bowls, are becoming the new it food in both restaurants and grocery stores.
9. Culinary Cannabis: Marijuana has made its way to the mainstream in four states plus Washington, D.C., and medical marijuana is legal in another 20 states. Retailers and foodservice businesses are already offering infused candies, pastries, and more, and as more states come on board, specialty food producers are sure to play a role in this blossoming economy.
10. Generation Z Raises its Voice: Another generation of foodies is upon us as generation Z is beginning to impact the restaurant and dining scene. Born from 1995 to present day, with the eldest now 18 to 19, this generation is expected to be a major contributor to the country’s eating patterns over the next five years, according to research from NPD Group.

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What’s Hot? 2015 Culinary Forecast (from the National Restaurant Association)
The NRA surveyed nearly 1,300 professional chefs – members of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) – to find which foods, cuisines, beverages and culinary themes will be hot trends on restaurant menus in 2015. The following is a list of the top 20 food trends. However, the website also provides lists of Top Trends in various categories such as alcohol beverages, appetizers, breakfast/brunch items, desserts and so on.

Top 20 Food Trends
1. Locally sourced meats and seafood
2. Locally grown produce
3. Environmental sustainability
4. Healthful kids’ meals
5. Natural ingredients/minimally processed food
6. New cuts of meat
7. Hyper-local sourcing
8. Sustainable seafood
9. Food waste reduction/management
10. Farm/estate branded items
11. Non-wheat noodles/pasta
12. Gluten-free cuisine
13. Ancient grains
14. Whole grain items in kids’ meals
15. Non-traditional fish
16. Ethnic-inspired breakfast items
17. Nutrition
18. House-made/artisan ice cream
19. Fruit/vegetable kids’ side items
20. Artisan cheeses

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Flavor Forecast 2015 (from McCormick)
Now in its 15th year, the McCormick® Flavor ® is on the forefront of identifying top trends, insights and ingredients driving the future of flavor. Created by a global team of McCormick experts—including chefs, culinary professionals, trend trackers and food technologists—the Flavor Forecast inspires culinary exploration and innovation around the world for years to come.

1. Sour + Salt: Combining coarse salt with surprising sours like pickled ginger, sour cherry, dried mango and lemon zest results in a lively finishing flavor that lends brightness and texture to dishes.
2. Smoked Spices: Smoking spices and herbs deepens their flavor and aroma, adding richness to meals and drinks.
3. Global Blends on the Move: People of diverse heritages around the world are bringing different ethnic flavors together at the dinner table – resulting in modern foods influenced by different cuisines, yet still have a familiar element.
4. Flavor Worth the Wait!  Lift the lid to discover the rich flavors from recipes around the world that meld aromatic spices and comforting ingredients into mouthwatering slow-cooked meals.
5. Middle-Eastern Mezze: These distinctive dips and spreads, packed with zesty herbs and seasonings, offer an approachable and delicious introduction to a vibrant global cuisine.
6. Liquid Revolution: Fresh purees and juices blend with bold spices and herbs to intensify sauces, pasta, dressings and more ̶ providing a fun, delicious way to enjoy an extra serving of fruits and veggies.
7. Umami Veggies: For a fresh way to savor the tempting “fifth taste,” look no further than naturally umami-rich veggies like mushrooms, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and nori.
8. Cookies Reimagined: Classic spiced cookie flavors take new form in decadent, imaginative desserts that redefine “milk and cookies.”

10 Key Trends in Food, Nutrition & Health 2015 (from New Nutrition Business)
The New Nutrition Business 10 Key Trends claims to be the only trend analysis dedicated to the business of food and health and the only one that will help you spot the difference between an enduring trend and a fad.

1. Naturally functional – the strongest foundation for success
2. Snackification – paradise for start-ups, innovation without limits
3. Weight – market shifts mean opportunity for entrepreneurs
4. Protein – powered by “naturally functional”
5. Good carbs, bad carbs – the steady rise of good grains
6. Dairy 2.0 – making the most of dairy’s natural advantages
7. Free-from – the normalization of avoidance
8. Sugar – the new dietary demon?
9. [Low fat fade] – A long, slow death for low fat?
10. Digestive wellness – the secret driver of other trends?

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Vogue Food Trends 2015Goodbye Cronuts, Hello Shaved Ice! Bidding Farewell to the Foods of 2014 and Welcoming the Foods of 2015 (from Vogue, with a New York orientation)

In the fickle world of foodie culture, culinary trends swing in and out of fashion about as quickly as It bags. Cronuts may have caused mass hysteria in 2014, but, like the cupcake before them, will their coolness factor fade into a distant memory? Here, we bid farewell to the foods of 2014 (it’s been real, avo toast!) and welcome with open arms the foods of 2015.

1. Goodbye Cronuts, Hello Shaved Ice! With even Dunkin’ Donuts getting into the Cronut game, it’s time for something a little cooler: shaved ice. If the lines at Snowdays, the new hybrid ice cream–shaved ice spot in the East Village, are any indication, the shaved-ice takeover is well underway.
2. Goodbye Avocado Toast, Hello Eggs! In case you hadn’t noticed, eggs are no longer relegated to the breakfast section of the menu. Ordering soup? Ask for a fried egg on top. Opting for salad? Hard-boiled will do. There’s even a new Lower East Side café, Egg Shop, dedicated to the organic variety. Our motto in 2015: Put an egg on it.
3. Goodbye Kombucha, Hello Matcha!  New York City’s first café dedicated exclusively to the finely milled green tea, MatchaBar, opened in the hipster stronghold of Williamsburg. They even offer classes on how to brew your own, which looks to be much easier than fermenting Kombucha cultures.
4. Goodbye Kale, Hello Rainbow Swiss Chard! Kale is the Beyoncé of leafy greens: beloved by all. But with some food providers predicting shortages of the crop in the future, it’s rainbow Swiss chard’s opportunity to shine. We especially like Il Gattopardo’s take.
5. Goodbye Ramen, Hello Bone Broth!  Mineral-rich bone broth, the simplest meat-and-vegetable stock, is officially the soup craze du jour. People are so into boning up, in fact, that a new shop in the East Village, Brodo, now sells to-go cups so you can sip it like coffee.
6. Goodbye Tacos, Hello Fried Chicken! Tacos will never die, but fried chicken is riding two foodie waves—nouveau southern and Korean—right into our hearts. To the list of new restaurants specializing in fried chicken (Root & Bone, Birds & Bubbles) you will soon be able to add Seoul Chicken, which was opened in September by Fatty Crab and Fatty ‘Cue alum Chaz Brown.
7. Goodbye Pork Belly, Hello Crawfish! You can thank Momofuku (and its pork buns) for the pork belly fad. But who is responsible for the budding crawfish craze? The critters are popping in everything from the mac and cheese at Heavy Woods to the dumplings at Mooncake Foods.
8. Goodbye Coconut Water, Hello Seltzer!  Just as studies began to establish that coconut water is no more hydrating than regular old water, seltzer began to win us over. Seltzer makers are the new juicers.
9. Goodbye Sriracha, Hello Mustard! New York City got its first ever mustard sommelier in 2014 at the Upper West Side home of French brand Maille, which has mustard on tap as though it were a craft beer. Need we say more?
10. Goodbye Quinoa, Hello Grits!  Quinoa got a big boost from the gluten-free bonanza of the past few years, but corn-based grits are just as safe for people with celiac disease—and much more flavorful. In other words: Kiss my grits!
by Samantha Adler, Vogue

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International Agribusiness Predictions for 2015 (from Agribusiness Council of Australia Limited)
Globally, although patchy, this will be the last decade where globalisation is perceived as a threat to current generations. In future decades, and with future generations, globalisation will just be accepted as a normal part of doing business. This will occur despite some rise in protectionism to prevent decline of in-country agribusiness development. World food prices will relentlessly rise in response to increasing population and declining agronomic resources.

What will increase?
• Agribusiness industry representation fragmentation (the world will see both producer and food-oriented consumer groups forming, often with opposing policies)
• Chinese emigration (people and capital)
• City gardens, particularly vertical gardens
• Commencement and slow rise of pluralism will begin to challenge partisanship as peoples seek the ‘best of all worlds’
• Desertification
• Emerging skills-based digital TV channels (leap frogging to smart phones)
• Environmental Enforcement
• Food prices
• Food security
• Global and in-country cold chains
• Global food chains (GFC) as proportion of international trade
• Grower-to-Consumer direct food sales
• Internet speeds and mobile telephony (coverage will continue to the patchy)
• Land evictions in developing and poor countries
• Locavore advocacy, but not practices
• Obesity Rates
• On-line food purchasing (developed world)
• Organic farming
• Private sector agricultural industry research, development, and extension
• Rise of online universities and vocational training institutions (across borders)
• Rise of pluralism in international policy forums
• Slow rise of African agribusiness in response to early stage exploitation of its vast agronomic potential
• Supply of ‘Ag industry-ready’ labour (all levels)
• Traceability technology, although mostly backward integration types

What will remain the same?
• A reconfiguring of agricultural faculties and vocational training institutions in response to rising demand for food and fibre (i.e. traditional models not filling skills gaps)
• Branding of agricultural produce stalls due to lack of innovation
• Business confidence (overall, but wide variations based on OPEC decisions)
• Farm-based bulk transport infrastructure
• Food Wastage
• Foreign lobbyists activity by multi-national agribusiness firms in developing countries (already amongst highest in the world)
• Government support for Ag R&D will continue to decline (as global shift to private sector continues). This poses major challenges for developing countries
• Natural resource management investments
• On-line food purchasing (developing world)
• Starvation (climate based). Starvation may increase, but the world now responds more quickly
• Wholesale food markets (Developing world)

What will decrease?
• Bio-security
• Farm-gate margins (particularly in developed countries)
• Fossil Fuel Energy Costs (preceding price shocks)
• Global agricultural policies will slightly increase protectionism in response to rise of Global Food Chains (i.e. to protect in-country agribusiness)
• Global supplies of P, N, & K (and some crucial trace elements)
• Government transparency and accountability
• High value agricultural lands
• Profit margins at the farm gate (mostly in the developed world)
• Public Sector Agricultural Industry Research, Development, and Extension
• Trade barriers (patchy, mostly via bi-lateral agreements)
• Wholesale food markets (Developed world)
– By Roy Duncanson, Agribusiness Council of Australia Limited

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