Each year companies look into their crystal ball and attempt to predict previews of flavor trends, shoppers’ eating habits, restaurant developments and food industry movements that impact the consumer.
One trend that keeps on moving forward is plant-based foods. However, rather than relying on heavily processed products that appear clean, recipe developers are making an intense effort to use minimal ingredients with less food additives. Manufacturers are shifting away from artificial substances and leaning towards protein-forward products made with “real foods” items like mushrooms, walnuts, legumes, and tempeh.
Despite the many low carb diet trends, carbohydrates provide an abundance of nutrition for the world’s population. One grain in particular will see a rise in popularity this year. Buckwheat is a versatile and delicious whole grain that cooks in less than 15 minutes. The grain is actually a gluten free seed loaded with protein, carbs, and fiber. Buckwheat has a nutty flavor and blends well with all kinds of cuisines, making it a wonderful choice in salads, soups, hot cereal, sides and grain bowls.
Look for Buckwheat in the grain section at McCaffrey’s Market. Buckwheat groats may also be found in the kosher section at the store in the form of Kasha. Both kasha and raw buckwheat groats are whole buckwheat grains, but kasha is toasted, and raw buckwheat groats are not.
Grains are naturally interchangeable in many recipes – so give buckwheat a try. Switch out buckwheat for farro in this Red Pepper and Grain Salad [LINK].
Or, try this Soba-Noodle Stir-Fry recipe. It features soba noodles made from buckwheat flour. The edamame and peanut butter give this stir-fry an extra protein boost.
Environmental and conscious food production continues to expand as the awareness of climate change and the need to keep oceans clean increases exponentially. Growing interest in practices that restore soil, conserves water and resources and improve biodiversity remain in the forefront.
Consumers are naturally shifting to products with both nutritious benefits and long-term environmental benefits. For example, organically farmed seaweed can help keep oceans clean and fight climate change. Ancient grains have adapted to grow in less-than-ideal situations making them a sustainable food choice.
One trend that has been all over social media involves culinary treats and rewards. The difference is that brands recognize the value of packaging. Rather than purchasing an entire package of chocolate or cookies, single joyful servings can be enjoyed without breaking the bank or blowing your diet.
Consumers are trending towards complex heat. Specialty peppers varieties are seen in fresh, whole, ground, and in pickled forms with new wave sauces and chili oils appearing in condiment aisles nationwide. Look for pepper infused drinks and mambo sauce. Mambo sauce is a tomato based, sweet, spicy, and vinegary sauce that is gaining popularity, much like sriracha sauce enjoyed in the past few years.
In the restaurant department, it is no longer out of fashion to dine alone.
In fact, restaurants will be catering to solo diners by providing small nooks for solo diners for privacy and more bar seating and counter spaces for those looking to interact with other solo diners or staff.
As always, the new year brings change, innovation and promise to the food industry. There are many more interesting food-related developments waiting for us in the coming year. For more information join Jill Kwasny, McCaffrey’s Registered Dietitian at her January program “What’s Trending with Food in 2024?”