Trends in organic food

According to Darrel Suderman, FastCasual.com, 2012 will be a banner year for Organic Food Product Innovation, and those who sit on the sidelines will miss the opportunity to strike gold in this rapidly growing product segment. His top 10 food innovation trend opportunities (they will only become trends if someone with vision picks them up and runs with them to the consumer marketplace -- restaurants, convenience stores, or retail grocers), include: Organic Foods (organic vegetables represent the largest single category); Arancini, fried rice balls coated in breadcrumbs and generally recognized as originating in Sicily in the 10th century. The main types of Arancini served in Sicilian cafes are Arancini con ragu, con burro (butter), con funghi, con pistachios, or con aubergine. In Roman cuisine, they are generally filled with cheese. He believes that Arancini balls served with creative complimentary dipping sauces can become an appetizer menu threat to boneless wings; Macarons could be the next big dessert offering to follow in the wake of cupcakes; Coconut is the leading hot flavor in the restaurant industry from the fine dining level to the QSR coconut shrimp level. From flavoring scones to jams to ice cream to being used as a basis for waters or oils, coconut was everywhere at the recent Fancy Food Show; Ancient Grains represent one of the hottest food marketing trends within the restaurant trade. The tie-in with biblical references is bound to capture consumers' interest. A fair number of prominent chefs think that gluten-free products may be maxing out. He predicts quinoa, amaranth, spelt, millet, einkorn, emmer, teff, triticale, chia and flax will take off; Heirloom foods are rapidly becoming a popular concept. You can even purchase to plant "certified" seeds, using the same terminology used by "certified organic" products. And the marketing seems endless with the slew of terms like "granny's heirloom seeds," "rare seeds," "ancient seeds," "down-to-earth seeds," "historical seeds," and even "organic heirloom plants." He predicts that retail grocery stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joes will soon be promoting "heirloom organic" food products; Neapolitan Pizza, oven-baked, flat, round bread typically topped with tomato sauce, cheese, and various toppings. Some of the ingredients from Neapolitan cuisine that may carry over to Neapolitan pizza include tomatoes (think Neapolitan Heirloom Tomatoes), vegetables (including broccoli and zucchini), cheeses (like the ricotta di fuscella, ricotta fresca, mozzarella di bufala, fiordilatte and provoloni); Burgers topped with an Egg. The egg bridges the menu daypart gap between breakfast and lunch called "Breaklunch"; New Nordic Cuisine. Chefs Claus Meyer and René Redzepi of Copenhagen's groundbreaking Noma restaurant are creating a brilliant and provocative new kind of Nordic cuisine that incorporates both familiar and wholly exotic ingredients, like musk ox or wild plants; Exotic Fish like Fugu (Japanese Puffer fish) and Paiche (fresh from the Amazon). dsuderman@foodbevbiz.com

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