Five Food Trends for 2019

March 26, 2019
Culinary Tides' annual report looks at all trend predictions for the new year, then looks for consensus among them.

"It can be difficult to know which trends are most likely to rise above the noise in the New Year," writes Suzy Badaracco in her annual “Shifting Sands: Trends Shaping the Food Industry” report. The report is a cross-analysis of 228 prediction lists for 2019 put forth by 170 experts. In all, more than 1,700 individual predictions were evaluated for their potential during the coming year.

Her top five food trends in brief:

Grains, fruits, & vegetables lose risk-taking momentum. Past grain trends were tied to consumers’ desires to explore regional and global cuisines. The grains list had some playful twists with farro, kernza, sorghum, teff, global pasta, heirloom rice and hemp. The single, global and ancient grains -- and breads made from them – are maintaining momentum through clinical health research that connects them to lower obesity rates, improved blood glucose levels and better heart health and cognitive functions.

The most noteworthy fruits were global ones indicating health, adventure and playfulness. But none of them was wildly experimental. However, breakthroughs included jackfruit, mamey, varietal berries and citrus, tart cherry, persimmon and hybrids like the pluot. Vegetables remained humble but a few show-offs included celtuce, mushrooms, roots such as parsnips, and cassava, sea greens and tiger nuts.

Plant & animal protein continue to diverge. The proteins also were more approachable and less extreme but some outliers appeared. Items mentioned for 2019 include jerky, offal, trash fish, underused meat cuts and bone broth. Seafood includes seacuterie, octopus and tined seafood as standouts. The animal protein category is unfocused, but that opens the door for experimentation and creativity. Nothing is off the table – anything can be made into jerky, sausage, and broth.

Plant proteins can be divided into two families: The Familiars include chickpeas, black beans, lentils, chia and tofu. The Experimentals include water lentils, hemp, adzuki beans, and seitan. Beans transition from best friend to leading lady. They are linked to the desire for increased protein, rise in flexitarianism, veggies taking center of plate and other patterns. Beans are common in all of the top global cuisines active in the country right now, including regional Mexican, South American, Middle Eastern and others.

Cuisines & clusters move back to post-recession position. Trending cuisines ranged from Cuban, Israeli, Filipino, French and Moroccan to U.S. regional dishes. Global comfort foods seem exotic to us but are mainstream in their native countries. These were popular during the recession and early economic recovery but they're back. Key items are global breakfast, regional BBQ, street food, invasivors (consuming invasive species), cultured and fermented items, flatbreads, peasant and marine foods.

Desserts replace nostalgia with experimentation. Desserts were more experimental than other categories. Comfort desserts return but are met with historical/regional and global classics. French pastries are joined by Middle Eastern booza and Egyptian kanafeh. Asian sweets – black sesame ice cream, pandan scented desserts and Thai rolled ice cream – compete with extreme milkshakes, vegan ice cream, upscale soft serve and frozen bars. Naked cakes and regional pies are canvases for creativity with herbs, salt, vegetables, and alcohol.

Preps & seasonings as the party dress. Preparation also affects foods and what will accompany them on the plate. Cooking methods are moving away from live fire and dry heat methods and now are toned down and mixed in with wet cooking methods. A desire for comfort means pickled, foil packets, sheet pan suppers and house-made everything. The underlying theme is “familiar on the palate.” Interestingly, seasonings and sauces are having a very large presence this year. Spicy, woody, earthy and savory replaced extreme flavors from last year -- the tones are more muted and rounder, as demonstrated by tamarind, sumac, rosemary, pandan and basil. Alcohol, charcoal and house-fermented hot sauces are among the more unusual entrants. International spice blends are from Egypt, Ethiopia, Korea, the Philippines and Argentina.

See the full report at

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