What might be the biggest 2012 food innovation trend opportunities?
In my last blog, I predicted that 2012 will be a banner year for Organic Food Product Innovation, and those who sit on the sidelines will miss the opportunity to strike gold in this rapidly growing product segment. So I decided to throw my top 10 food innovation trend opportunities into the ring. I call them "opportunities" because they will only become trends if someone with vision picks them up and runs with them to the consumer marketplace – whether that be restaurants, convenience stores, or retail grocers. Here is my list in no particular order.
Organic Foods – A Global Trend
Most of us tend to view the world through United States vision glasses, and we tend to think that we are the leader in organic farming and product consumption. According to a recent article in Organic Processing magazine written by two USDA mangers titled "The International Organic Market: Sourcing and Expanding Export Opportunities" (Soo Kim and Miles McEvoy, 2012), the U.S. exports $1.5M in organic products annually. On the other hand, the Chinese export value of organic foods was last tallied in 2006 to be $350M, with an annual growth rate of 30 percent from 1995 to 2006. Today, organic agriculture covers 3.8M hectares in the country – and organic vegetables represent the largest single category.
Arancini – Threat to Boneless Wings?
Arancini are fried rice balls coated in breadcrumbs and generally recognized as originating in Sicily in the 10th century. The main types of Arancini served in Sicilian cafes are Arancini con ragu, con burro (butter), con funghi, con pistachios, or con aubergine. In Roman cuisine, they are generally filled with cheese. I believe that Arancini balls served with creative complimentary dipping sauces can become an appetizer menu threat to boneless wings. With the increasing cost of breast meat, Arancini represent a cost competitive alternative – although pricier prosciutto offers a craveable taste.
Although Starbucks has sold both whoopie pies and macarons, the full sales potential has not been realized. Some culinary experts believe macarons will be the next big dessert offering to follow in the wake of cupcakes. This hit home recently when a prominent bakery in one of the largest countries in the world asked me to help them develop and commercialize macarons in their country during 2012. Once I started to look around where I live in Denver, I became hard pressed to find a place to purchase macarons. If macarons can make an international splash, then becoming a U.S. trend is not far behind.
I recently attended the regional Research Chef Association meeting at Johnson & Wales University where a panel of leading culinary chefs provided their vision of future food trends. Amazingly, a general consensus emerged that coconut is the leading hot flavor in the restaurant industry from the fine dining level to the QSR coconut shrimp level. Coconut flavor is equally popular at the bar with alcoholic drinks, as it is with plated sit down meals. From flavoring scones to jams to ice cream to being used as a basis for waters or oils, coconut was everywhere at the recent Fancy Food Show.
Ancient Grains (My Personal Favorite)
I personally believe that "Ancient Grains" products represent one of the hottest food marketing trends within the restaurant trade. The tie-in with biblical references is bound to capture consumers' interest. A fair number of prominent chefs think that gluten-free products may be maxing out. If so, I am predicting the rise of the "Ancient Grain" new product innovation. Quinoa, amaranth, spelt, millet, einkorn, emmer, teff, triticale, chia and flax represent the centuries-old grains.
My next blog will include the top 6–10 food trends.
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow the Food Innovation Institute website (www.foodbevbiz.com) for more information on our 2012 Food Innovation Workshop listing at Johnson & Wales University in Denver.
Darrel Suderman, Ph.D., is president of Food Technical Consulting and founder of Food Innovation Institute. He has held senior R&D/QA leadership positions at KFC, Boston Market, Church's Chicken and Quiznos and led KFCs development team of Popcorn Chicken, now a $1B international product invented by Gene Gagliardi.