What do a plankton-feeding fish from Australia, Curry Powder’s golden ingredient, and explosive corn have in common? They may play a starring role in 2012’s American food trends, according to food and nutrition forecasters at Publicis Consultants USA.
“Economic circumstances are prompting more than the usual degree of change in the highly adaptable food and beverage business, with higher food costs and budget-minded consumers driving innovation,” says Publicis Consultants USA President Steve Bryant, who also pointed to digital influences.
“The table setting has changed,” he adds. “It’s now knife, fork, spoon and smartphone.”
The top 12 forecasted food and nutrition trends for 2012 are: perpetual snacking—smaller portions and mini-bites will invade restaurant menus and grocery stores; global food mash-up—millennials will “travel the world” through eating and drinking inexpensive culturally mixed foods; the connected table—geo-targeting apps, recipe commenting, crowd-sourced restaurant reviews and tweets between bites will mean you’re never alone; wine cred—desiring fresh value-priced experiences, consumers will discover and share wines from lesser-known growing regions; pop-ular popcorn—popcorn is healthful, convenient, natural, versatile and affordable; in-your-face nutrition—front-of-pack labeling, nutrition disclosure on menus and calorie-counting mobile apps will make nutrition messaging hard to escape; grow-it, raise-it, pick-it, eat-it—from backyard beehives, chicken coops and heirloom veggie gardens to home brewing and at-home canning, hyper-local will come home; dining in goes beyond comfort—new supermarket products and chef-inspired tools and techniques will help take in-home dining beyond traditional comfort fare; barramundi—the next sustainable seafood, this Australian import’s delicate flaky flesh is extremely low in toxin levels, but full of heart and brain-healthy omega-3s. Expect it on menus and then in packaged foods; turmeric—the real “spice of life,” expect to see a lot of this bright yellow spice that contains high levels of antioxidants and touts anti-inflammatory properties; a health and wellness gender gap grows—women will continue to take active strides to improve their health by eating healthy and staying active. Men will lag further behind; and, tell me what I can eat, not what I can’t—an overload of hype will lead to a positive tone in messaging as consumers will seek delicious products that proactively enhance health and wellness.