Trend Forecasters Cite Barramundi, Turmeric And Popcorn To Be Key Food Trends In 2012

Food and nutrition forecasters at Publicis Consultants USA, a food PR and marketing agency, are revealing what they believe to be the top food trends for 2012.

"Taste will forever remain the key driver of food consumption, even in price-conscious times," says Registered Dietitian Joy Blakeslee, director of the firm's Publicis Culinary & Nutrition Center. "Consumers are going beyond comfort foods, discovering in food and drink some of the adventure they might have afforded in travel or other purchases."

"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 Steve Bryant, president of Publicis Consultants USA.

The following are the top 12 food and nutrition trends for 2012

  • Perpetual Snacking. As 24/7 lifestyles heighten the demand for snack-able foods, smaller portions and mini-bites -- sweet to savory -- will invade restaurant menus and grocery store shelves.
  • Global Food Mash-Up. In light of restricted budgets, the millennial generation (age 18-30) will "travel the world" through eating and drinking, growing demand for inexpensive culturally mixed foods.
  • The Connected Table.  Digital/social tools allow consumers to connect and share eating experiences in real-time, even while eating alone. Geo-targeting apps, recipe commenting, crowd-sourced restaurant reviews and tweets between bites will mean you're always sharing and never alone.
  • Wine Cred. Desiring fresh value-priced experiences, consumers will seek out wines from lesser known global and domestic growing regions. They will demonstrate an increasing willingness to explore unfamiliar varietals and blends. This knowledge will be a point of pride and enrich conversations.
  • Pop-ular Popcorn. Popcorn is healthful, convenient, natural, versatile and affordable. It's the most fun you can have with whole grains.
  • 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. Look for the do-it-yourself trend to boom.
  • Dining In Goes Beyond Comfort. As consumers continue to limit dining out, they will seek a restaurant-quality experience at home. New supermarket products and chef-inspired tools and techniques will help take in-home dining well beyond traditional comfort fare.
  • Barramundi, the Next Sustainable Seafood. Feeding on a mostly vegetarian diet of plankton means this Australian import's delicate flaky flesh is extremely low in toxin levels, but full of heart and brain-healthy omega-3s. It will be a shoo-in on menus and in packaged foods.
  • Turmeric, the Real "Spice of Life." Expect to see a lot of this bright yellow spice, an element in curry powder with a long history of medicinal uses. Turmeric contains high levels of antioxidants and touts anti-inflammatory and cancer fighting properties among its benefits.
  • 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, especially younger men, will continue to lag behind.
  • Tell Me What I Can Eat, Not What I Can't. An overload of hype will lead to a positive and more balanced tone in messaging as consumers will seek delicious products that proactively enhance health and wellness and even provide a little indulgence and fun.

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