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Home » From the Commissioner

2017 Food Trend Predictions

New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food (January 12, 2017)

Each New Year rings in rounds of resolutions–and predictions of hot new trends for the year ahead. A number of food trend-spotters—but not all–see meats in the ascendancy—with fading appetites for vegan and vegetarian fare.

The National Restaurant Association recently shared its top trends, harvested from the organization’s survey of nearly 1,300 professional American Culinary Foundation chefs. The chefs identified hot menu features for this year like poke–a raw fish dish popular in Hawaiian cuisine, and housemade charcuterie—prepared meat products like ham, cold cuts, sausage, bacon, terrines, etc. Artisan ice cream and cheese, ethnic spices, African flavors, local and ‘hyper-local’ foods, and nutrition are among the reported trends. Healthy—and gourmet—menus for children also made the list.

The Restaurant Association says foods waning in popularity include quinoa, black rice and vegetarian and vegan cuisines.

The James Beard Foundation thinks French cuisine is being rediscovered, including patisserie—French pastries. The Beard Foundation thinks vegetables will be shouldering aside meat for more space on plates in 2017. They predict “cauliflower will become the new kale.”

International food and restaurant consultants Baum+Whiteman say kale may have peaked–while various seaweeds are on the rise due to the ramen noodle explosion all across the country. Seaweed is the foundation of many broths, and adds a layer of umami to various dishes. Seaweed aquaculture is growing to meet the demand.

Not all prognosticators are singing from the same page when it comes to meat consumption in 2017. Oklahoma State University’s Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center has ‘butcher-to-table dining’ topping its list of the hottest food trends, along with local foods and healthy vending options. They see growth in restaurants with butcher shops. Andrea Graves, FAPC business planning and marketing specialist, said change is inevitable and trends help indicate what is coming next.

“Businesses need to pay attention to trends in order to find new growth opportunities and their target audiences,” she said. “Understanding these trends help businesses stay ahead of upcoming change, whether it is regulatory or a new flavor profile. Also, in most cases, consumers drive the trends and are looking for products and companies that are meeting their needs and lifestyles.”

FAPC’s top five trends for 2017:

  1. Reducing food waste–Foods previously considered “too ugly” to eat, and the “scraps” from fruits and vegetables will be used instead of discarded.
  2. Butcher-to-table dining–These locations give consumers the option to purchase fresh, locally produced meat to cook at home, or they can select the meat they want and enjoy a meal at the restaurant.
  3. Drone delivery
  4. Local foods—for both restaurant and home consumption
  5. Plant-based protein–consumers desire to not eliminate meat, but include more plant-based protein in “flexitarian” diets.

Preparations such as fire-grilling and smoking are becoming more popular, they say, as well as fermenting and pickling.

Actual declines in food prices are a concern for restaurants and food retailers. The Kiplinger Agriculture Letter reports, “For the first time in at least 49 years, consumers will pay LESS for groceries.” Restaurant consultants Baum+Whiteman say low food prices are hurting restaurants. As wholesale prices of meat, chicken, eggs and other essential commodities plummet, independent and chain restaurants are closing or going bankrupt because highly competitive supermarkets are passing savings to customers in the form of cheaper prices. But restaurants, overall, have been raising prices to try to cover rising rents and wages, increasing health care costs, parental leave and other mandates. Many of these trends are related to farm prices and marketing opportunities.

Lorraine Merrill, Commissioner 

New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets, & Food

(This column is excerpted from the Department’s Weekly Market Bulletin, Jan. 11, 2017)

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