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Top food trends to watch for in 2014

New innovations in packaging and flavors have consumers keeping an eye out for these trends in the new year.

January 24, 2014
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With 2013 in the record books, consumers are hungry for new innovation in new and existing product categories.

Deconstructed dinners offer the convenience of a preplanned menu with the fun and creativity of gourmet home cooking. Companies such as Plated, BlueApron and HelloFresh offer meal kits including all the necessary ingredients for a dish costing  $10-$15 per meal. HelloFresh has raised $7.5 million to expand from Europe and Australia to the US.

Forget that food dye in 2014, according to market analyst JWT, as consumers add the coloring to their list of things to avoid. The Center for Science in the Public Interest has already worked to ban or require warning labels for a number of dyes in the UK and Europe, and a 2013 Change.org petition played a role in pressuring Kraft to remove food dye from its Macaroni & Cheese.

The next frontier in sustainability may just be edible packaging. From edible burger and ice cream sandwich wrapping to WikiPearl, an edible packaging company created by Harvard bioengineer David Edwards that draws inspiration from grape skin, consumers are embracing zero-waste packages.

Thought the buzz over Greek yogurt might be subsiding? Well, say hello to savory yogurt. Frozen yogurt chain Pinkberry now offers fresh Greek yogurt mixed with flavors like chopped cucumber, sunflower seeds and chili powder. Chobani’s retail outlet in New York City offers creations that include smoked salmon, lemon juice, dill and more.

Some chain restaurants are working to improve the nutritional value of offerings, without tipping off diners, in so-called “stealth health” tweaks. Chick-Fil-A’s recent elimination of high-fructose corn syrup in buns and artificial dyes in sauces are prime examples. “We call it stealth health,” a Chick-Fil-A dietician told JWT. “We didn’t necessarily want the customer to know we’ve tweaked their favorite product.”

Finally, watch out for a rise in the popularity of ugly produce. Instead of the cosmetically perfect, “pretty” produce seen at grocery stores, JWT says consumers are opting for gnarled carrots or lumpy heirloom tomatoes.

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