Rants & Raves
January 1, 2024
You Gotta Eat

Every year, experts come out with their predictions for the year. For those of us in the food industry, we're eager to know which foods will be the ones that climb the charts and delight consumers.


Recent reports* indicate there are a number of food trends and emerging flavors to keep an eye on in the new year. Some are logical, recurring and quite predictable. Others are a bit more surprising.

Without exception, consumers continue to be excited by foods that taste good and deliver unquestionable value. For some, value is measured by foods that contribute to improved health and overall well being. Others find value in foods that deliver undeniably indulgent experiences. Additionally, consumers are clamoring for new ingredients, unusual global flavors and innovative culinary preparations.

In particular, there is a growing interest in culinary innovation that's elevating traditional Greek, French and Italian cuisines to new levels. Whether this is achieved through the use of harder to find ingredients, lesser known regional formulations, modernized concepts or mashups with other cuisines (i.e., Wafu Italian - Japanese & Italian, Nikkei - Japanese & Peruvian), there is noteworthy movement away from the tried and true interpretations of European-inspired foods.

Similarly, retro foods such as Baked Alaska, Caesar Salads and Mac-n-Cheese are being tweaked, updated and reinvented, inserting themselves into a category of foods known as "newstalgia."

While there is a long list of ingredients considered trend-worthy, many having earned some degree of familiarity, others are still gaining notoriety and not yet considered mainstream. These are just a few that may not be on your radar:
-   Amba - pickled mango condiment from India
-   Hojicha - roasted Japanese green tea
-   Nam Prik Pao - Thai chili jam with a hot/sweet flavor
-   Nepitella - Mediterranean herb that's a mix of mint, basil, oregano, thyme and licorice
-   Ponzu - Japanese citrus-based sauce with a tart-tangy flavor
-   Scamorza Cheese - southern Italian cows milk cheese
-   Shiso - Japanese mint
-   Sunomono - Japanese cucumber salad
-   Yuzu - Asian citrus with flavors of lemon, grapefruit and mandarin orange

Whether you're an avid home cook, prefer the convenience and adventure of dining out, or work as a professional chef in search of new ideas, it's clear that there will be lots of new and exciting ingredients, recipes and dishes worth exploring in the months ahead. Of course, come this time next year, there will be another batch of contenders and even more culinary adventures to be enjoyed.

Jeffrey Spear has been providing industry insights, marketing strategies and creatively inspired designs to a global community of food producers and foodservice operators for more than 40 years. He is also an accomplished food writer, formulating recipes, publishing cookbooks and developing editorial content for a variety of trade and consumer publications. If you're looking to enhance the impact of your culinary brand, or simply need someone to tell your story in ways that are visually and emotionally appealing, give Jeff a call: 866 787 8761 - or shoot him an email: jeff@studiospear.com

* Based on data provided by Datassential, the industry's leading food research and insights firm.