Each year, specialty food trends fire up and fizzle out. So what will 2016 bring? Analysts at the Specialty Foods Association predict the food industry can expect to see consumers pushing meat products aside in favor of vegetables and other produce that was cast aside until recently.
The $109 billion specialty food industry is driven by innovation and small-batch production, according to the association. Fifty percent of consumers purchase specialty food and those numbers are expected to rise in 2016, according to Association research.
“Health and convenience come across loud and clear in 2016's trend forecast,” says Denise Purcell, head of content for the Specialty Food Association. “Consumers gravitate toward simpler foods and beverages, often sustainable and local and they respond to products and new store formats that make their lives easier. But while they may want their food simpler, they don't want it boring. There's always room for indulgence and new taste adventures.”
The 2016 predictions include:
Vegetables take root: Vegetables are getting new respect, and will crop up more in teas, yogurts and ice-cream. Seaweed is set to soar.
Fresh florals: Flower power will be evident in chocolate, cheese, snack foods, carbonated water and an expanding variety of teas.
Food waste face-off: Food retailers, foodservice establishments and food makers will looking for more creative solutions to combat food waste.
Local love: Locally sourced meats, seafood and produce will continue to attract attention from consumers who demand to know where their food comes from.
Fungi frenzy: The humble mushroom is now at the intersection of several trends—vegetables, umami and foraging.
Snack appeal: Snacks have new status as healthy options for meal replacements that appeal to solo diners, busy parents and even their children.
Fat is back: Full-fat products once deemed forbidden are back in style from milk to butter to red meat.
Convenient shifts: Food retailers large and small are testing new strategies to lure in consumers who are looking for the best in their food and willing to pay.
Supermarkets for super health: Expect more supermarkets touting themselves as wellness centers with dieticians on staff, blood sugar testing and nutrition classes.
The Latin kitchen: From bottled gazpacho to renewed relations with Cuba, Latin American cuisine is gaining fans from food halls to high-end eateries.