Authentic regional foods from around the world are emerging as the norm rather than the exception thanks to changing demographics and a shift in consumer attitudes. This change is explored in the new "A look backward and forward culinary trend mapping report," from San Francisco-based food and beverage innovation agency CCD Innovation and market research publisher Packaged Facts.

"Due to paradigm as well as demographic shifts, global flavors have become celebrated as part of the norm for America's diverse consumers," said Kimberly Egan, CEO of CCD Innovation. "Separating out what we used to call ethnic food from mainstream fare is no longer relevant. We are living in a multicultural culinary era."

According to the report, some early stage restaurant and packaged food and beverage trends include:

  • Chia Seeds: Informed natural food lovers and wellness subscribers, always on the look-out for the next star ingredient, are becoming excited about chia because of its many nutrients and ease of use.
  • The New Cocktail: The sheer number of Generation Y cocktail lovers and a well-organized spirits and cocktail industry has helped move new cocktails out of trendy bars and speakeasies and onto chain restaurant menus.
  • Third Wave Coffee: The growing food movement with its values in artisan production, connoisseur collecting and sustainable food production is popular among younger coffee drinkers, many excited to try new third wave coffee products. Many of these products are found in hip, urban cafés.
  • Quinoa: Consumers are turning to quinoa to answer a number of reasons — it is packed with protein, a low-calorie substitute, is gluten-free, is a vegetarian protein and more.
  • Coconut Water: The increase in the Asian and Hispanic populations can be considered an influence behind the growth of coconut water.
  • Farm-Raised Seafood: Local and sustainable issues around seafood have pushed farm-raised seafood to the top of the Trend Map. In QSRs and mainstream grocery stores, most of the fish is farmed because wild stocks have been decimated. These issues will continue to play out with meat and poultry in the years to come. McDonald's, for example, announced earlier this year that its seafood supply is now 100-percent sustainable.
  • Greek Yogurt: Greek Yogurt has benefited from an increase in health and wellness offerings, as well as more interest in digestive health, increased sales of probiotic-rich yogurt across segments and the rise in gluten-free foods. Frozen yogurt concepts, including Yogurtland and TCBY, have taken advantage of this trend with versions of Greek fro-yo.
  • Salty Sweets: Salty sweets, whether in the form of salted caramel and chocolate or other savory combos (think Pretzel M&Ms), tapped into the recession-driven comfort and indulgence trend. Burger King's bacon sundae pushed this trend into the mainstream.

According to the report, other, non-culinary trends in the foodservice industry include:

  • The proliferation of food and social media;
  • The vast increase in retail channels for food purchases including farmers markets and drugstores; and
  • New foodservice outlets such as food trucks

The growth of the natural foods channel and embrace of local, seasonal and sustainable fare

Read more about food trends.

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