Culinary Tides Inc. released the report "Top 10 Trends Analysis — Shifting Sands 2014" — A cross analysis of predictions across Government, Technology, Health, Consumer, Travel, Beverage, and Food & Flavor trends hitting the food industry in 2014 through Q1 2015.
Adventure, courage, optimism, and playfulness continue as:
- Government focuses on health and labeling issues
- Health is dictated by obesity, and trust concerns
- Technology is concerned with services and social connectedness
- Consumers move from directed to mindful
- Travel remains extreme, indicating continued confidence
- Beverage expands laterally with cocktails, mocktails dominating
- Food interests cut a wider path with more extreme offerings
This report is a cross-analysis of 168 separate "Top 10" prediction lists for 2014 affecting the food industry. In all, more than 1,600 individual predictions were evaluated for their potential during the coming year. The lists forecast Government, Health, Technology, Consumer, Travel, Beverage, Food and Flavor directions. Of all the predictions examined, only predictions that are well supported are included.
While some are short lived and others exhibit a longer lifecycle, all trends in the report are anticipated to remain in focus throughout 2014 and into the first quarter of 2015. Many of the predictions will be familiar as they are holdovers from previous years but remain strong in 2014, while others are newer to the food industry.
The trends are broken down by macro and then micro families, which helps to establish their strengths and links to other existing trends. Their supporters, who called them out, are listed as well. Gap analysis was performed to identify missing items which appeared on none of the lists but were considered critical by Culinary Tides Inc. These additional predictions overlooked by the industry are included as "What's Missing?"
Overall the trends indicated that consumers and food continue to move toward 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 and more extreme in nature. This is actually a normal transition when coming out of recession and into recovery and therefore is a good sign that consumers' moods are improving. It also paints a more complex landscape to have to navigate, but at the same time more freedom to focus in areas of interest or expertise for the industry.
Consumers are cautiously moving toward recovery, however, and are still demanding authenticity, so this is not the time to "Americanize" global foods. Bring foods in from abroad in their truest form and represent them accurately on the plate. While consumers are letting go of their blanket of fear, created by the economic crisis, be aware that they still have it in their line of sight. Fusion will resurface this year but in the form of comfort hybrids. It is still too early for more extreme fusions to regain significance in the first half of the year.
Some of the predictions you will see listed representing "Poster Children" for this new direction include:
- Government – GMO, snack taxes, caffeine, frivolous lawsuits, kids, obesity, food safety
- Health – Obesity, natural energy, kids, flexitarian, cognitive function, healthy fuels, celebrity influence, protein
- Technology – Omni-channel, narrowcasting, vending, digital wallets, GMO, tablets, connected objects
- Consumers – Newism, clockless eating, invisibly healthy, clean slate brands, snacking, escape, sustainability
- Travel – Arctic, extreme Asia, Brazil, secret travel, island travel, digital detox, ancient civilizations, bleisure
- Beverage – Low alcohol cocktails, bubbles, mocktails, infused ice, snackified, grains, tea, hard cider, cold pressed
- Food & Flavor – Regional ethnic, seasonal, pickled, sour, wildcrafting, Nordic, Low Country, kids, fin to tail, noodles, smoked, wild game, beans, open flame, hybrids, stuffed, secret menus
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.