The inspiration and innovation found in the latest wave of culinary innovation is based more on what is familiar than what is exotic, according to the Packaged Facts report New Spins on Standards 2017: Culinary Trend Tracking Series.
“One doesn’t have to look very far to find the ‘next sriracha’ or ‘matcha tea” said David Sprinkle, research director, Packaged Facts.
“Culinary trends in 2018 will be inspired by familiar comforts from our childhoods but with artisanal, indulgent, and downright delicious reimaginings that satisfy the appetites of traditionalists and foodies alike.”
The report identifies more than a dozen foods, beverages and ingredients that will trend in 2018 and beyond:
Cauliflower at center and side.
Factors such as the growing locavore trend and the increased cost of traditional protein are prompting restaurants to design more menu items that showcase fresh vegetables. Cauliflower benefits from the versatility that allows it to be prepared in many different ways.
Eggs benedict trending across dayparts.
This dish has inspired new restaurant concepts, and increased experimentation and multiculturalism with omelets have opened the door to more experimentation, particularly since the breakfast, brunch and late-night dayparts are getting creative attention.
Mac and cheese beyond the box.
This comfort food is being adapted into many forms. Along with its presence as a signature entree or as a premium side dish, macaroni and cheese is being merchandised as a sociably shareable food plate that appeals to millennials; as a fried bite-sized snack, bar food or alternative to French fries; and in mash-ups on sandwiches or poured into poutine.
Meatballs are on a roll.
Beef, pork, lamb, bison, duck, turkey, and even plant proteins such as lentils are trending meatball ingredients, especially in fine dining restaurants.
Olives across the board.
Olives offer flavor, versatility and allure, and the culinary world has begun to realise that olives represent opportunity at every price point in both food service and retail.
Better with brown butter.
Brown butter is a double-down on comfort food flavor and texture. This ingredient improves most of consumers’ favorite desserts.
Figuring out figs.
In restaurants, figs have primarily appeared in approximately three out of ten fine dining locations. In upscale casual dining, figs have seen real growth, with menu call-outs steadily increasing from 2007 to 2017.
(Earl Grey) tea time at dessert.
Tea-flavored ice creams are now mass-market, but tea as a dessert drink or drink flavouring remains happy hunting ground for foodies. Menus use Earl Grey in artisanal ice creams, crème Anglaise, flavouring syrups, and craft sodas and cocktails.