The minute November hits, we all know it’s full on Thanksgiving mode here in the USA. We all sit and dream about mashed potatoes and gravy, apple pie, cornbread stuffing until the third Thursday of the month hits and we shamelessly eat until we pass out. Oh America! In this 11th month of the year, while food is first and foremost on most people’s minds, it seems the food industry is churning out a ton of fun new concepts, creations and trends. Let’s explore them, shall we?
An exciting five-day international trade exhibition in Paris that welcomed over 7,000 exhibitors and more than 150,000 visitors to Paris. Some of the trends seen at the show included:
Sustainability: easily one of the biggest trends in the industry right now, many companies are looking at different approaches to reducing plastic in their packaging, utilizing biodegradable packaging, and buying ‘pesticide free’ vegetables from farms utilizing agricultural techniques that have a low environmental impact.
Transparency: long gone are the days where consumers couldn’t name or pronounce half of the ingredients in their breakfast cereal. These days consumers are increasingly looking for products who have nothing to hide. Millesime, a vintage chocolate company emphasizes the fact that each bar is made from beans from a precise origin, harvest and geography.
Animal welfare: for many heartless years, cows, pigs, and chickens were put up in horrendous, overcrowded feeding pens in the USA and abroad before their ultimate demise. Thankfully many prominent people started to take note of these deplorable conditions and chose to take a stand against it. Nowadays approximately 80% of consumers say they are seeking to buy animal products that are more respectful of the animal and the way they are treated. Meat companies are taking note of this and boasting organically fed and free-range poultry.
Sophisticated and trendy new flavor boosts: companies are responding to consumers adventurous palates by using new techniques such as fermenting foods or infusing foods to create new and unusual foods.
Meat and fish alternatives: as more consumers are adopting a ‘vegetarian or vegan’ lifestyle, companies are getting on board by creating products that look and taste like meat but are far from it! Some of these companies include: Beyond Meat, Solmon, a vegan smoked substitute made from seaweed extracts, and Ocean Hugger Foods – a vegan sushi company.
Plant based dairy: everything from yogurts to ice cream and cheese is seeing a transformation to a vegan alternative product. Companies are substituting regular milk with coconut milk, almond and cashew milk, vegetable oils and soy proteins.
Ancient wheat: ancient varieties of wheat including semolina, bulgar, spelt, and einkorn are being used for paste, crackers and salad, offering a unique flavor and a more artisan feel for consumers.
Cooking oils: ever since coconut oil made its debut onto the scene, a variety of alternatives for olive oil have made their way onto shelves. Some of these include: sunflower oils, ghee, and nut-based oils including pistachio and cashew oils.
Meat snacks: things like crispy meat chips are all the rage as consumers continue to try to add more protein in their diets in the most convenient way possible.
Other notable trends include:
Cannabis-infused products: the rise in cannabis related products has grown so much that the food recruiting website, forcebrands.com, which has expanded from its original food and beverage base to include beauty, has also included a section on their website for Cannabis related products. Some of the most popular cannabis related products include, cannabis oil, cannabis chocolates, and cannabis beauty and skin care products. KIVA Confections, for example created cannabis infused chocolates and is one of the most recognized cannabis companies in California.
No staff required supermarkets and convenience stores:
Japan: A convenience chain in Japan, Lawson, has opened their first fully self-serve store in Tokyo. To shop here all, you need to do is download and install the official Lawson app on your smartphone. When you enter the store, you boot up the Smartphone Pay feature of the app, scan the items you want on your phone, then click the checkout button when ready to pay.
Singapore: Spanning over 60,000 square feet, Habitat by Honestbee is a full supermarket, specialty fresh grocery, online fulfillment center, retail innovation hub and experiential dining destination. The store stocks 20,000 products including global ingredients and daily essentials. The unique thing about Habitat is that it is the world’s first cashless checkout experience and robotic collection point. Orders can be processed from beginning to end in under five minutes. For customers looking to purchase a variety of things, shoppers can drop off their carts at the AutoCheckout point and Habitat will take care of scanning, packaging, payments and delivery. Now the serious question…when is this coming to the USA? Interesting article on it here.
Hunan Cuisine (regional Chinese cuisine) causing quite the stir in NYC:
Hunan cuisine is considered one of China’s eight traditional regional cuisines. Hunan cuisine is characterized by dishes jam packed with chili and vinegar. Instead of using dried pepper favored by Sichuan, Hunan’s heat comes from fresh red and green chilies. The East Village of NYC has seen its fair share of Hunan restaurant openings. Back in July, Eater.com called the rise of stylish Chinese restaurants in the East Village one of the greatest trends in NYC dining right now. Check out Silky Kitchen to give this unique Chinese cuisine a try. The good news…everything here is under $14! Craving noodles? Head to Huan Slurp. These delicious and unique rice noodles have a distinguished, well rounded flavor. The signature rice noodle dish is the ‘Fish Fish Fillet Mifen’ which includes slow simmered pork bone and wok-fried fish boiled until the soup turns milky white. Customers are then encouraged to plunge raw fish fillets into the soup with greens on the side.
The 13th annual StarChefs 2018 event in NYC:
The annual Starchefs.com International Chefs Congress took place on Oct 21-23 at the Brooklyn Expo this year. The conferences covered demonstrations, hands-on savory, pastry and bartender workshops, wine tasting seminars and business panels, hands-on workshops, beverage tastings, business seminars and much more. The theme for this year’s congress was ‘cooking with respect: better people, better food’. Here are some key food trends from this year’s conference:
Unique ways to use caviar, unique ways to prepare onions, veggies being treated like meat, unique ways of cooking and using eggs, and sustainability and respect for the environment. Find out more here.
A very interesting restaurant concept…Zauo, NYC
Ever wonder exactly where your seafood came from? Wonder no more! Zauo, this Japanese chain in Chelsea lets you catch your own dinner. Say what? When you enter the establishment, you grab your fishing license and rod to fetch your very own fish. The selection of tanks contains species such as rainbow trout, stone bass, and flounder, along with abalone and lobster. Once caught the restaurant staff takes the fish away and serves it as you like. Leave your vegan friends behind for this one!
New products to look out for!
My/Mo Mochi ice cream: triple flavored ice cream – same great product but now they’ve added a central layer to give it more flavor. The four new flavors will include: chocolate sundae, chocolate peanut butter, vanilla blueberry and dulce de leche.
Trader Joe’s carrot cake spread: oh my. The spread is made with minced carrots, orange peel, crushed pineapples, golden raisins, and autumnal spices.
Hershey’s new chocolate bar: the new bar is half milk chocolate bar and half chocolate bar with Reese’s Pieces.
Worldwide trends that need to make their way to the USA:
Ruby chocolate: using specially selected South American cocoa beans, this chocolate has a unique taste, it’s slightly sour and very fruity. Some describe it as a less-sweet, raspberry white chocolate. KitKat brought their ruby version to the UK in April after launching it in Japan and Korea. Luckily for us Americans, it’s also available on Amazon!
Beats and brunch: although I am sure we can find this in the USA, Australia is really topping the cake with the “Beats n’ Brunch” concept! Since I Left You, a bar in Sydney, hosts a Beats ‘n’ Brunch complete with a hip-cop DJ, an hour or bottomless cocktails and delicious waffles. Sounds like the perfect Sunday to me!
Vending machines filled with insect snacks: I wish I made that one up, but no you read it correctly. Japan has installed an insect vending machine at Kokai Shopping District in Kumamoto. Read more about it here. I thought that would be a first, but apparently Houston, Texas already had one in the Houston Museum of Natural Science!
Mast chewing gum: I think we’ve all been waiting for this for a long time. The world’s first easily digestible chewing gum has been launched in Australia. Its plant based and sugar free and made from the ancient Mediterranean Pistacia (cashew) resin. The gum is made from natural ingredients and is biodegradable.