by Ashley Capps
From sriracha to smoothie bowls, food trends evolve quickly as chefs and consumers look for the “next big thing.” After sifting through reports from Mintel, Bon Appétit and Iconoculture, we found two overarching themes that are a good temperature check of what’s on the hearts and plates of Americans today: 1) Americans are turning to comfort in familiar flavors; 2) they are looking to make the world a better place through innovation.
From the FleishmanHillard food, agriculture & beverage (FAB) team, here are the food trends coming to a menu near you in 2017:
George Jetson’s Meal Kit: Consumers are craving convenience without having to sacrifice health, nutrition or customization. Essentially, they want “slow-roasted” to fit into their fast-paced lifestyle. According to Mintel, “on-the-go” food and drink product launches increased 54 percent in the last six years. Next time you need a hit of caffeine, try Go Cubes, chewable coffee cubes that contain as much caffeine as a cup of Joe. Or if you’re really brave, order a case of Soylent – a healthy meal replacement product available in liquid, powdered and solid bar forms.
Back to Our Roots: During a particularly challenging moment in our country, consumers are looking to find comfort in the known. They still crave product innovation, but are looking for familiar flavor profiles like mom’s chicken soup, but with a twist. One great example is hard root beer; you know whether you’ll like it without having to take a risk.
Waste Not, Want Not: In the U.S. alone, 133 billion pounds of food are wasted annually. Think ugly produce, byproducts of the juicing craze, and bread butts. But consumers and the government alike, are sitting up and taking notice, seeing someone else’s trash as treasure. One U.S. brand, Sir Kensington’s, produces vegan mayo using the leftover liquid drained from chickpeas – aquafaba – which has recently acquired its own fan following.
#MeatlessEveryDay: Alternative sources of protein are catching fire as more Americans are looking to reduce their meat consumption. Instead, Americans are filling their plates with more veggies and alternative protein sources like quinoa, chickpeas and tofu.
Your Time to Shine, Mean Greens: Consumers are making strides to do as mom always said and “eat your vegetables.” According to Mintel, 30 percent of U.S. adults who purchase vegetables are trying to eat a more plant-based diet which is quickly adopting the trendy term of “flexitarian.” Be prepared for your next dinner date to say “sorry, I’m not eating meat today, I’m a flexitarian.”
The New “Fourth Meal:” As consumers are more plugged in than ever, they are turning to food and beverage products to wind down in the evening. In addition to relaxing with a glass of wine, consumers are sipping juice spiked with melatonin. So next time you are feeling particularly wired, grab an adult coloring book and Nightfood bar to help you doze off.
Every Man’s Right: As consumers at every income level try to eat healthier, companies are making strides to help achieve that goal. Currently, 42 percent of U.S. adults who purchase vegetables and have a household income of less than $25,000 are trying to buy more vegetables, yet only 27 percent are having success. EveryTable, a restaurant in Los Angeles, helps lower-income families in South Los Angeles eat well at just $4 per meal, while charging higher-income North Los Angeles residents $8 for the same meal to even out the margins.
Here’s to 2017 where coffee comes in cubes, root beer will give you a buzz, and ugly fruit finds new life. Bon appétit!