What’s Next in Food Trends?

The food industry is ever-changing, with chefs and food manufacturers continually developing innovative and creative approaches to their businesses. As part of our commitment to our customers, the Omega-9 Oils team tracks popular trends all year long. We’ve put together our prediction of what the top trends will be on the restaurant, retail and nutrition fronts in 2018.

What’s Hot in Restaurants

For its annual What’s Hot Culinary Forecast, the National Restaurant Association (NRA) surveyed 700 professional chefs about what will be on trend in 2018. Below is an overview of the top foods, cuisines and culinary themes to expect to see in restaurants this year, according to the report.

  • Top 5 – Foods for Dining Out: New cuts of meat, house-made condiments, street food-inspired dishes, ethnic-inspired breakfast items and sustainable seafood.
  • Top 5 – Culinary and Restaurant Concepts: Hyper-local, chef-driven fast-casual concepts, natural ingredients/clean menus, food waste reduction, veggie-centric/vegetable-forward cuisine.
  • Top 5 – Up and Coming Trends: Doughnuts with nontraditional filling, ethnic-inspired kids’ dishes, farm/estate-branded items, heritage-breed meats and Peruvian cuisine.
  • Top 5 – Overall: Outside of NRA, various foodservice experts and outlets weighed in on this year’s top food and beverage trends. The top shared predictions include ethnic-inspired cuisine (e.g., Israeli, Asian island, contemporary Mexican and Chinese), creative use of food waste, beverage innovation (e.g., high-end no-alcohol drinks, adjacent wine bars, farm to shaker), vegetable-based dishes (e.g., vegetable entrees, use of vegetables as carb substitutes) and locally sourced ingredients.

Top Retail Trends

The grocery store environment is attracting consumers like never before thanks to innovation. Here is what you’ll see more of in — and outside — the grocery aisles in 2018.

  • Mindfulness: Consumers are increasingly looking to connect with their food. They want to know where their food comes from and how it is produced, make responsible choices, understand the ingredients in their food and seek brands with social causes. These desires are influencing food and beverage innovations as brands look to deliver on consumer demands.
  • Hyper-local: More and more shoppers are looking for food products that are regionally or locally sourced. To answer the call, retailers will rely more on small- and medium-sized producers.
  • Home-based Shopping and Delivery: The use of home-based assistants for shopping (Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Home app) provides retailers with the opportunity to generate more sales and support a positive shopping experience. And in an effort to save shoppers’ time, home delivery will likely see innovation, such as using apps to set up order and delivery, same-day service or delivery in less than two hours.

Leading Trends in the Nutrition World

Emerging trends, such as food for brain health and mindful eating are gaining traction, but the most popular trends in 2018 will be carried over from last year.

  • Digestive Health: Probiotics in the form of supplements and cultured or fermented foods will remain on trend, but interest in prebiotics will grow in 2018. Expect to see Jerusalem artichoke, inulin, acacia and chicory root, in the form of supplements or ingredients in products.
  • Plant-Based Eating: Consumer demand for plant-based foods isn’t going anywhere and as a result, pulse-based products, plant-based dairy alternatives, meat alternatives and nutrition bars will be popular.
  • Healthy Fats: Omega-9 fats (monounsaturated fats) are making a name for themselves, thanks to offering heart, blood sugar and weight benefits. Canola, olive and sunflower oils, nuts and avocados are all good sources of omega-9 fats and will be staples.
  • Convenient Nourishment: Traditional eating patterns and times have been disrupted by time pressures and commitments. Rather than sitting down for a meal, busy consumers are looking for quick and portable sources of nourishment. As a result, brands are offering more grab-and-go products, including cottage cheese cups, peanut butter packets, tuna pouches with forks, ready-to-drink soups and more.

Want to stay up to date on the latest news, research and trends in the food industry? Be sure to visit the Omega-9 Oils blog throughout 2018!