The Food Channel, in connection with research done by Culture Waves and the International Food Futurists, released its Top 10 Food Trends for 2010 at foodchannel.
Keeping it real
In a back-to-basics economy, it is natural to return to basic ingredients. This isn't about retro or comfort food, or even cost. It's about determining the essentials and stocking your pantry accordingly. It is about pure, simple, clean and sustainable. It is (dare to say) a shift from convenience foods to scratch cooking.
Restaurant concepts are in flux as people redefine what going "out" to eat means. Gastropubs, fusion dining, shareables and communal tables are all being tried. New concepts around "fresh" and DIY (do-it-yourself) will do well. Experimentation is the trend, so diners will see concepts come and go.
More in store
Researchers predict growth in grocery stores, particularly as private label assumes prominence. Those old generics have morphed into their own brands so that there is blurring and less of a caste system. Grocery stores are also doing things such as upgrading delis and fresh takeout sections, all the way to returning butchers to a place of prominence.
American, the new ethnic
This is all about flavor delivery. Immigration has come to the plate, and consumers are now defining a new Global Flavor Curve. Part comfort, part creativity, the latest flavors are coming from the great American melting pot. So, it's about Grandma's food, but the recipes may be written in Japanese.
You are what you eat! That's what's leading this trend: Our constant need for assurance that we are eating the right things, that our food is safe, that we are not ingesting pesticides or anything that will someday prove harmful. Call it food vetting or sourcing, the issue is that people are asking where their food comes from.
People have mainstreamed sustainability, unlike a year ago, when consumers were somewhat afraid to use the word. America is just now learning how to be sustainable, and Americans are holding themselves responsible. In 2010, we'll see people and companies becoming sustainable for authentic reasons.
Food with benefits
Call it what you will, "nutritional, healthful, good-for-you," but this trend toward beneficial foods is growing at a pretty big rate. Expect food to either have nutrients added or have the word "free" (gluten-free, allergy-free).
I want my umami
The "foodie" has settled into a more universal designation of someone who loves food, not a food snob. They are just as likely to want a PB&J as they are to try the latest soft shell crab sushi. And they may put french fries on it! The point is experimentation and a willingness to try new things.
Will trade for food
In an era when you can rent a name-brand purse for a special event, consumers want to know how they can apply that same concept to consumables. So what do we do in a bad economy when we have more time than money and skills that we still want to put to use? We barter. We'll all see more of the barter system come into play now that technology can assist with connections.
I, me, mine
It's the rise of the individual. While sharing has come into its own in restaurant concepts, there is a separate but equal trend toward individuality. It's part of the reason why we are making our own cheese, smoking our own meats and making our own specialty desserts. Expect more attention to the individual, but it's not just about portion size; it's also about food that reflects personality.