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The editors at Food Technology magazine, published by the Institute of Food Technologists, have announced their predictions on hot food trends for 2019. Here’s what they’re forecasting for this year.
Meat Distances Itself From Animals
Plant-based meats are growing in popularity in grocery stores and restaurants as consumers view these products as healthy and environmentally friendly. Plus, the latest versions of these faux meats come very close to looking and tasting like real meat, so consumers don’t have to compromise between eating pleasure and personal values. Traditional meat is not standing still; genome editing of food animals may produce meat with improved feed-to-protein ratios, healthier fats, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The ultimate entry in the meat arena may well be the commercialization of cultured or lab-grown meat, which might hit the market in 2019.
—Bob Swientek, Editor-in-Chief
Healthy Growth for Indoor Ag
More consumers will get a taste of produce grown without soil or sunlight as the scope of high-tech indoor agriculture—both hydroponic and aeroponic—expands in the marketplace. The indoor agriculture movement will continue to attract more investors, companies will adopt more sophisticated growing technologies, and the number of indoor growers will increase. Consumers will reap the benefits of fresher, tastier greens grown locally without pesticides.
—Mary Ellen Kuhn, Executive Editor
Botanical Beverages Hit Mainstream
Botanical flavors have been increasing in popularity for a while thanks to popular craft gins (which rely on a variety of additions such as coriander, licorice, or citrus peel) and golden lattes flavored with turmeric. This winter, Starbucks debuted the juniper latte as a limited-time offering. Described as featuring “a hint of juniper and sage, an evergreen aroma, and citrus notes,” the drink is made with espresso and steamed milk that’s infused with juniper syrup and topped with foam and pine-citrus syrup. The use of botanical extracts in beverages is in line with today’s high consumer expectations for health-enhancing and authentic products.
—Kelly Hensel, Senior Digital Editor
Bacon is Back
Consumer demand for bacon will increase in 2019, and this growth may include products that are cured with special or custom flavors.
—Toni Tarver, Senior Technical Editor
The Rise of Alternative Ingredients
Alternative ingredients are becoming mainstream, as some consumers are concerned about their health and diet while others focus on sustainability or novelty in food product choices. Think vegan ice cream made with nuts and coconut oil, pizza crust formulated from cauliflower, and meat-free burgers made with pulses.
—Karen Nachay, Senior Associate Editor
Look for cannabidiol (CBD)-infused foods and beverages to create a buzz on grocery store shelves and in restaurant meals in 2019. Offering claims of reduced anxiety, better sleep, and pain relief, CBD is already making its mark in health and beauty products, but 2019 will see a myriad of CBD-infused foods and beverages entering the market, including beer, wine, coffee, chocolate, soups, and snacks. In states where recreational cannabis is legal, both CBD- and THC-infused innovations will expand their presence, as consumers seeking greater functionality from foods and beverages look to cannabis for its therapeutic effects and unique flavor profile.
—Margaret Malochleb, Associate Editor
The Ease to Please
A lack of cooking skills and even greater time constraints have raised the cries for more convenient meal solutions to a fever pitch—and the demand for such products will continue to grow. Those who say convenience has a significant impact on their food purchase decisions jumped 5% last year, according to the International Food Information Council. Pre-prepared, precooked, and precut offerings drove 50% of growth in fresh food departments, per Information Resources Inc. Cooking instructions and/or an “easy to prepare” claim would make half of Millennials and Gen Zers much more likely to buy a fresh food product. More dollars are now spent on sourcing food away from home than on food prepared in the home.
—A. Elizabeth Sloan, Contributing Editor, Consumer Trends
Getting Comfortable With Cannabis
An area that will continue to garner consumer interest in 2019 is the hemp and CBD (cannabidiol) oil market. There is still much to be defined in terms of clinical research and regulatory issues, but consumer awareness of the benefits of hemp and, in particular, CBD oil cannot be denied. A growing number of people are aware of anecdotal and reported benefits for anxiety, inflammation, and pain. Keep an eye on the supplements industry in 2019 to observe not only research and innovative applications, but also how CBD will be regulated.
—Linda Ohr, Contributing Editor, Nutraceuticals
Biotechnology, Biosensors and More
We can expect to see, among other developments, increased interest in and development of gene-editing technologies such as CRISPR; continued development of biosensors and test kits for identification of pathogens and allergens; and increased implementation of Food Safety Modernization Act regulations such as the produce safety rule.
––Neil H. Mermelstein, Editor Emeritus/Contributing Editor, Food Safety & Quality
Intelligent Packaging Will Get Even Smarter
Intelligent packaging accessible by smartphones will emerge as a necessary systems solution to increase food safety and the value of package waste and to meet the variable information needs of consumers. Intelligent packaging will allow for efficient recalls and understandable “consume within” information for e-commerce, brick-and-mortar retailers, and grocery delivery operators and consumers. Proper package disposal specific to a consumer’s smartphone location will provide clear direction on post-consumer package disposal that will increase collection and sorting of recyclables and the post-consumer value of packaging. Manufacturers will be able to relay product-specific information at the time and date of packaging on nutrient, allergen, origin, and branding to create more personalized products with minimal production disruption.
—Claire Koelsch Sand, Contributing Editor, Packaging
Emphasis on sustainability and healthfulness in food processing will continue to grow. Food processors will discover new ways to share their sustainability and healthfulness stories with consumers to influence purchasing decisions.
—Tara McHugh, Contributing Editor, Processing