My recent trip to the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco showcased over 1,400 exhibitors from across the US and 35 Countries and regions specializing in some of the most amazing and exotic foods and trends for 2015. Snack foods and bars have gone to new levels which include seaweed to unexpected ways to elevate veggies. Exotic teas and drinks are gaining in popularity. Bitter, fermented foods and drinks are on the rise. Smoked and grilled foods remain popular. Incorporating ingredients into foods that offer health benefits is a huge plus. Consumers are paying even closer attention to food labels. According to Mintel, ¾ of American Adults consider themselves foodies. One of the trends for this year has consumers wanting an adventurous culinary experience in addition to simplicity.
I had the opportunity to get a firsthand look at some of this year’s top food and flavor trends.
Flavor and Food Trends for 2015
- Spicier Complex New Regional Style Foods
Consumers are acquiring a more sophisticated palate for spicier and more complex flavors such as Asian and new regional style foods that include exotic dishes from other regions like Thai Japanese, Filipino and Vietnamese.
- New Flavors and Ingredients Offering Health Benefits
Seaweed showed up in a multitude of snack foods such as chips, hummus and popcorn. Seaweed also has its health benefits and is chocked full of thyroid-supporting iodine and vitamin B-12. Food Artisans have managed to turn vegetable haters into lovers by making them the star ingredient in a convenient and healthy snack food. For starters we have Broccoli Chips with White Cheddar, Brussel Bytes; how clever is that? If you are really adventurous; give the Arugula Cabbage Veggie Crunch a try!
- New Twists on Sweet and Salty Snack Foods
Companies are getting innovative when it comes to snack food and health bars. Consumers are embracing the unusual combinations of ingredients and flavors in their favorite snacks and bars. Savory flavors like Roasted Jalapeno, Sweet chili and even honey-smoked barbeque top the list. Sweeter combinations include Orange Honey or Cherry Pistachio. How about Sundried Tomato with Basil or Olive with Walnuts for a new twist on flavor!
- Bitter Foods and Beverages
Consumers are looking for bold flavor food experiences. Craft Beers, Dark Chocolate, Coffee and Arugula have maintained their popularity. Consumers want to try even stronger and more intense flavors with darker coffees and chocolates, hoppy beers, cocktails with bitters and vegetables such as kale and collard greens.
- Sodium and Sugar Reduction Solutions
Public health debates continue about added processed sugars and high levels of sodium being put into our foods. Consumers are on the lookout for ways in which to reduce sodium and replace processed sugar with alternative sweeteners. Diabetes and obesity are on the rise, and the attention towards food labels continues to grow. The FDA has recently issued a recommendation for companies to display information about added sugars on food labels. This will be a top priority for consumers and food manufacturers. Sweeteners that are gaining in popularity are, Stevia, Maguey Syrup, Honey, Agave and Maple Syrup. The newest introduction to the all-natural sweetener trend is the use of Monk Fruit.
- Turmeric: The Exotic Superfood
Turmeric is a culinary spice native to Southeast India. It is a plant of the Ginger Family. Turmeric has a peppery, warm and bitter flavor and a mild fragrance slightly reminiscent of orange and ginger. It is best known as one of the main ingredients used to make curry. Because of its deep yellow-orange color, Turmeric was traditionally called, “Indian Saffron.” Turmeric, the bright yellow of the spice rainbow has long been used as an Anti-Inflammatory Agent to treat a variety of conditions.
- Food Packaging Trends
Consumer’s expectations demand sustainable earth-friendly products with a transparency about what they are consuming, where the product is made and clarity about what they, the company stand for. Labels will move from clean to clear with simpler claims and packaging. Biodegradable and reusable are likely to expand. Food manufacturers will undergo a similar transformation as companies are taking it upon themselves to align with the shifting expectations of the consumer along with the FDA Label Overhaul.