Troiola also calls attention to non-Mexican Central and South American flavors and ingredient concepts, with special attention to Peruvian cuisine. "Peru recently won the top honor as World's Leading Culinary Destination at the 2012 World Travel Awards," he remarks. "And Indian cuisine and all types of curries will continue to gain popularity."
Along with Troiola, Sterling-Rice Group, a brand strategy company, thinks sour flavors will be popular, including tart, acidic and bitter flavors such as fermented cherry juice, varietal vinegars and sour beer. Also more pickling and brining, sauerkrauts, pickles and tart flavors at restaurants. Sour and tart flavors are replacing much of the sweet, salty and fatty staples, consistent with the healthier trend.
If the bacon fad has peaked, perhaps the pendulum is swinging back to lower fat foods. "Healthier ingredients such as brown rice, high-fiber/ancient grains and vegetable broths as opposed to fatty favorites such as butter, bacon and cream" are the answers, says Troiola. "Vegetables will become a more integral part of meals with dishes such as cauliflower 'steaks,' squash noodles and celery juice cocktails."
Troiola also notes a variety of not-so-new grains that are appearing in food preparations, an observation he credits to Chicago food consulting firm Technomic. "Dishes such as polenta, couscous and bulgur were identified as some of today's hottest ethnic foods," he says. "Technomic also noted a number of grains -- quinoa, amaranth, millet, wild rice, corn, oats and buckwheat -- do not contain gluten and are being moved to the fore as part of the movement to eat gluten-free." Use of bean and ancient grain flours in place of wheat flours also can increase the nutritional profile of foods.
Pea flour is another gluten-free substitute; it's high in protein, too. Other flours acknowledged by Troiola are bean flours, such as those from sweet lupin, cici, yellow peas, habas (dried green lima), pintos and black beans, and ancient grain flours from millet, quinoa, amaranth and others.
Sustainable fish, a trend that started with farm-raised salmon and shrimp, moved on to tilapia and now to swai and barramundi. The latter is the perfect solution for processors making ready-to-eat fish dishes and answers controversies over fish farming and overfishing. Making use of specialized tanks, barramundi farming does not spoil the water table or allow waste to escape into streams. For that reason it's a trend to keep an eye on as it has experienced a sudden rise only in the past half year or so.
That interest in foods and ingredients supporting a healthy lifestyle will continue to grow has never been more apparent. The trends for the coming year, while no doubt subject to whim and fashion, do have an underpinning of practicality. It will be hard to bet against health, clean labels, increased diversity and sustainability.
This article originally appeared in the January 2013 issue of Food Processing Magazine.