Hot Food Trends for 2012 Include Continued Interest in Ethnic, Southern Cooking

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Processed food man­u­fac­tur­ers will intro­duce more prod­ucts that reflect greater use of whole grains, lean­er pro­teins (includ­ing poul­try and seafood), more mono and poly-unsaturated fats (includ­ing spe­cial­ty oils) and more veg­eta­bles, accord­ing to "Food Fla­vors and Ingre­di­ents Out­look 2012," from Pack­aged Facts. At the same time, single-serve fresh fruit and veg­etable options are expect­ed to boost the nutri­tion­al val­ue and drop the caloric con­tent of restau­rant meals, espe­cial­ly those at quick serve restau­rants tar­get­ing kids. This food trend out­look report also pre­dicts that fusion will be the pri­ma­ry trend when it comes to eth­nic food, par­tic­u­lar­ly in rela­tion to food trucks, with Kore­an influ­ences espe­cial­ly strong. Inter­est will also increase in all aspects of Peru­vian cui­sine, well beyond ceviche and seafood, includ­ing greater appre­ci­a­tion for pota­to dish­es.

The fla­vors and ingre­di­ents of South­ern cook­ing will remain big, adds David Sprin­kle, pub­lish­er of Pack­aged Facts, with impro­vi­sa­tion or cus­tomiza­tion to incor­po­rate inter­na­tion­al influ­ences, espe­cial­ly those of Cen­tral and South Amer­i­ca. Food proces­sors will con­tin­ue the trend to source ingre­di­ents and label foods from a spe­cif­ic state or region (e.g. Ver­mont ched­dar, North­west rasp­ber­ries). With his­tor­i­cal rather than geo­graph­ic speci­fici­ty, gas­tro­nom­i­cal archae­ol­o­gy and the use of ancient ingre­di­ents to devel­op menus will also increase.

With center-of-plate pro­teins, "Food Fla­vors and Ingre­di­ents Out­look 2012" pre­dicts high­er demand for more unusu­al cuts, species and ani­mal parts coin­cid­ing with the increase in local butch­er shops as an out­growth of the food craft do-it-yourself (DIY) move­ment. More humane­ly raised veal will offer new fla­vor pro­files, while food­ser­vice oper­a­tors and food retail­ers will increase their com­mit­ment to sus­tain­able seafood, includ­ing more tri­al and pro­mo­tion of fresh sar­dines and anchovies. Trace­able, local catch is like­ly to appear more fre­quent­ly on inde­pen­dent and high-end restau­rant menus. On a more every­day lev­el, afford­abil­i­ty and appeal­ing taste will keep sausages and hot dogs pop­u­lar in 2012, with eth­nic inter­pre­ta­tions gen­er­at­ing spe­cial inter­est. Sim­i­lar­ly, chick­en wings will remain a favorite owing to inven­tive­ness of sea­son­ings, mari­nades and dip­ping sauce fla­vors, while savory pies and pasties will make more appear­ances on more restau­rant menus.

In food­ser­vice, more cre­ative, vegetable-centric sand­wich­es and center-of-the-plate items will be evi­dent. Win­ter squash, turnips, spe­cial­ty mush­rooms and greens of all sorts are pre­dict­ed to gain in pop­u­lar­i­ty along with huck­le­ber­ries, goose­ber­ries and cloud­ber­ries. In greater com­pe­ti­tion with food­ser­vice, frozen food man­u­fac­tur­ers will find more ways to add val­ue via extra veg­eta­bles.

Updat­ed takes on clas­sic desserts will con­tin­ued to be fea­tured, with tall lay­er cakes grow­ing in pop­u­lar­i­ty. Inter­est in pies will shift to minia­ture ver­sions, with vari­etal and less famil­iar fruit pies show­cased. But­ter­scotch, pear, lemon and lime, and corn will be among the dessert ingre­di­ents gain­ing trac­tion.

"Food Fla­vors and Ingre­di­ents Out­look 2012" also pre­dicts that growth in farm­ers mar­kets will slow due to over-saturation in key urban mar­kets and, more gen­er­al­ly, insuf­fi­cient infra­struc­ture to sat­is­fy the grow­ing demand for local­ly grown, direct­ly mar­ket­ed food. More local­ly grown food will be avail­able and pro­mot­ed through con­ven­tion­al super­mar­kets as well as portable, single-serve ready-to-eat fresh fruit and veg­etable snacks. At the same time, an increase in agri­tourism will get more Amer­i­cans vis­it­ing farms and tak­ing cook­ing class­es, while sus­tain­able urban­ism tours will inform and edu­cate about rais­ing chick­ens in the city, com­post­ing, and bee­keep­ing. More approach­es to the direct mar­ket­ing of DIY food crafts will also be test­ed and tried, with the added ben­e­fit that new trends will like­ly be spurred by one-off small prod­ucts catch­ing atten­tion via social media.

[Source:  "Food Fla­vors and Ingre­di­ents Out­look 2012."  Pack­aged Facts.  20 Jan. 2012.  Web.  9 Feb. 2012.]