Culinary Tides, Inc. released the report: "Top 10 Trends Analysis - Shifting Sands 2012: A cross analysis of predictions across Government, Technology, Health, Consumer, Travel, Beverage, and Food & Flavor trends," hitting the food industry in 2012 and beyond. Adventure, courage, optimism, and playfulness continue as:
- Governments and technology focuses on health and safety issues
- Health is dictated by development and decline – kids and seniors
- Consumers move from unfocused to directed
- Travel remains extreme, indicating continued confidence
- Food interests cuts wider path with more extreme offerings
- Beverage expands laterally with cocktails dominating
This report is a cross analysis of 143 separate “Top 10” prediction lists for 2012 affecting the food industry. In all, 1,420 individual predictions were evaluated for their potential in the coming year.
The lists forecast government, health, technology, consumer, travel, beverage, food and flavor directions. Of all the predictions examined, only predictions which are well supported are included in the tables and used to create the Link diagrams. While some are short lived and others exhibiting a longer lifecycle, all trends in the report are anticipated to remain in focus throughout 2012 and into the first quarter of 2013, if not beyond. Many of the predictions will be familiar as they are holdovers from previous years, but remain strong in 2012 while others are newer to the food world.
Additional predictions thought to be overlooked by industry are in the tables called “What’s missing?” The top trends of each section are identified at the beginning of the sections in a list titled “Top Influential…” Other trends identified on various lists, but which were not considered especially influential -- or could not be tied to any supporting trends -- were not included in the report. The sections with the fewest predictions were the Government, Technology, and Health sections, and therefore they hold the most supplemental predictions generated by Culinary Tides, Inc.
Overall the trends indicated that consumers and food continue to move towards experimentation. There is strong evidence that consumers are moving out of the economic crisis both emotionally and behaviorally. The Food and Flavors, Consumer, Travel and Beverage sections all note more extreme behaviors and activities; a sense of risk taking, playfulness, courage, and vulnerability. The swings in behavior and desire in all sections are simultaneously wider, more unfocused, and extreme in nature. This is actually a normal transition when coming out of recession and into recovery, and therefore is a good sign that consumer moods are improving. It also paints a more complex landscape to navigate, but at the same time – more freedom to focus on areas of interest or expertise for the industry.
However, consumers are cautiously moving toward recovery and are still demanding authenticity. So, this is not the time to “Americanize” global foods. Bring foods in from abroad in their truest forms and represent them accurately on the plate. While consumers are letting go of their blanket of fear, created by the economic crisis and war overseas, be aware that they still have a few fingers touching the blanket or at least have it in their line of sight. This is not the year to plunge ahead with molecular gastronomy or create foods without reference to anything.
Some of the predictions you will see listed representing “Poster Children” for this new direction include:
- Government – GMO, BPA, acrylamide, salt, kids, food safety
- Health – Obesity, gluten, BPA, salt, kids, seniors, cognitive function
- Technology – QR codes, vending, food safety, digital accountability, GMO
- Consumers – Escapism, deal chic, recession rejection, fresh, pure, health centric, transparency
- Travel – Arctic, Leap list, extreme Asia, quietly exotic, bleisure
- Beverage – Cocktails, guest bartenders, growers champagne, bitters, tea
- Food & Flavor – Vibrant, daypart disintegration, pickled, wildcrafting, global comfort, Korean, blood, insects, Nordic, marshmallows, Low Country, Cuban, pie, carb revival, kids, seasonal, fin to tail, foraging, Peruvian
Suzy Badaracco is a toxicologist, chef, and registered dietitian. She holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Criminalistics, an Associates degree in Culinary Arts, and a Masters of Science degree in Human Nutrition.