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The Future of Food: Predicted Food Trends for 2013

Autumn. It’s the time of year that I personally look forward. Not so much because of the bracing winds that blow a gust of fresh air my way or the family-themed holidays that are just around the corner—although these are great reasons to herald the Fall and Winter months. However, as a lover of food, I often look forward to the new trends in food for the upcoming new year. While these predictions are, well, just that—predictions—they are based on market research and industry-wide synopses of opinions, surveys, etc.

The year 2013 is just around the corner. What’s in store for hungry diners on the culinary landscape?

Out with the old . . .

According to Culinary Visions Panel, a food industry think tank, one of the current and popular trends that seemed to be on an upswing in 2012 actually will not fare as well in 2013. Food trucks, those wildly popular meals-on-wheels transporters of portable food, will take a back seat to the whims of chefs who want to highlight new ways of delivering the dining experience. Notes Sharon Olson, executive director of the Culinary Visions Panel, “Food trucks aren’t news anymore.” This shift in the delivery of food could see more chefs with tables in farmers’ fields, empty storefronts (as in popup restaurants), and kiosks.

Vending machines will be giving the food world a bit of a makeover with fresh offerings for the busy person on the go. This concept caters to the 24/7 lifestyle that so many people with hectic lifestyles lead today. Consumers can look forward to healthful options as well as a greater variety of choices that go beyond soggy sandwiches and stale chips.

A field of fresh kale
[Image courtesy of worradmu / FreeDigitalPhotos.net]

With the farm-to-table concept and the desire for everything fresh making a grand entrance onto the culinary scene over the past few years, vegetables are making an extraordinary comeback. Which leafy green vegetable is growing in popularity? That distinction of honor goes to kale, which is an excellent source of antioxidants, fiber, and Vitamins A, C, and K. Look for it on increasingly more menus.

“Everything about today’s vegetables is chic and appealing including those sporting a black color like garlic and mushrooms.” [From the Culinary Visions Panel report]

Read the 2013 Food Trends Report from Culinary Visions Panel here.

Baum & Whiteman, a restaurant consultant group, has issued its annual report which includes predictions for 2013’s 17 hottest food and dining trends. (Their report is inclusive of restaurants and hotels).

Fast-cas restaurants, otherwise known as “fast-casual”, will be springing up everywhere. Taking heed of the consumer’s desire to trade down and go from upscale dining, casual dinnerhouses and full service restaurants, the fast-cas format is taking hold. According to Baum & Whiteman, fast-cas offers diners “interactive service with food made in front of you; customizable upscale options; bolder flavors; distinctive, contemporary décor; more youthful appeal than dinnerhouses but more mature than fast-food plasticity … prices about half-again as much as fast food  … and consumers tolerating slower service in exchange for better quality.” Think Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Baum & Whiteman’s #17 trend speaks to food suppliers and manufacturers not wanting to be left out of the loop—they’ll be opening up their own restaurant startups. Pasta giant Barilla’s will be launching branded pasta restaurants. Both Chobani and Dannon have already opened flagship yogurt bars in Manhattan, one of the busiest cities in the world.

A mouthwatering charcuterie board
Photo credit: L.Richarz / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

As an added bonus, Baum & Whiteman includes in their report buzzwords for 2013, which includes seeing more chicken and less beef, weirder desserts on the horizon, lobster rolls, charred octopus tentacles, and, sure to be a favorite for meat lovers, charcuterie boards.

You can find Baum & Whiteman’s full 2013 predictions report here.

Sterling-Rice Group (“SRG”), a Boulder, Colorado integrated brand strategy firm, has also revealed what they believe will be the top culinary trends for 2013. Their number three pick of the cutting-edge dining trends is the influence of Asian flavors in American comfort food. And interestingly enough, while tapas have been the rage for a couple of years, SRG believes that concept of sharing will fall by the wayside in 2013 and give way to smaller, more appropriately-sized single meals for individuals.

Click here to read Sterling-Rice Group’s full report.

Of course, there are many more reports floating around the web with varying predictions. Some are aligned with the predictions presented here, while others are vastly different. So should you rely too heavily on predicted trends or take them with a grain of salt and a wait-and-see attitude? The choice is up to you.

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