Will Plant-Based Proteins Continue to Grow?

New year, new food and flavor trends. It is that time of year again to focus on the top food trends predicted for the upcoming year. What will 2018 offer the food industry? What is the next great super food? How is digital technology influencing food choices?

Here, Kalsec® rounds up the most talked about food and flavor trends for 2018.

Our Food Trend Predictions

Kalsec notes top trends throughout the year and follows them closely. After reviewing last year’s food and flavor trends, five major trends are continuing to grow or gaining momentum as we enter 2018. Some trends are new to the lists this year.

Ethnic Evolution
2018 flavor trends hummusPeople are continuing to bring traditional global cuisines to their own kitchens. New ethnic flavors and foods will be trending in 2018 as consumers expand their palates in the comfort of their homes.

Plant-Based Proteins and Botanicals
A plant-based focus will continue to gain traction into 2018, aligning with more consumers choosing a vegetarian and flexitarian lifestyle. This goes hand-in-hand with the trend for the addition of botanicals that are adding value (and flavor) to food.

Bold Natural Colors
2018 will be a year of bold and bright natural colors. Tapping into this trend will attract consumers while keeping a clean label product that is eye-catching. An example of this is a natural purple color from ube, or purple yam.

Food Waste
Another large trend adding to the new product market is a focus on reducing food waste. From exact quantity meal delivery kits to using once-wasted byproducts in new and innovative ways, companies and consumers alike are reaching for ways to reduce waste without compromising flavor.

Digital Technology
One of the largest trends predicted for 2018 is pushing the envelope with digital technology as it relates to flavor and aroma…”smellvision” may actually become a thing.

For more global food trends visit our collection of food trend content.

18 Sources for 2018

Kalsec® stays ahead of the industry by closely monitoring food trends. Here is a compilation of 18 food trend prediction lists for 2018 from well-known and niche sources we are watching.


SOURCE: Innova, as published in Food Ingredients First [Posted November 22, 2017]

  1. Mindful Choices: Body-mind connections are influencing new food and beverage product introductions
  2. Lighter Enjoyment: Diets are out, healthy is not
  3. Positively Processed: Utilizing old-fashioned processing techniques
  4. Going Full Circle: Environmentally-responsible packaging, low-waste methods and claims
  5. Beyond the Coffeehouse: Modification of café favorites and flavors
  6. Say It With Color: Using color as a consumer draw with bright hues and clean labels
  7. Dining Out, In: The line between food service and retail blurs
  8. From Snacks to Mini Meals: Snacking is changing, with snacks becoming a light meal and meals taking on a snack-like appearance
  9. Ocean Garden: Meat, vegetables and seasonings from the sea
  10. Bountiful Choices: Diversifying existing food categories

SOURCE: Whole Foods [Posted November 6, 2017]

  1. Floral Flavors: Flowers like lavender, hibiscus, elderflower and violet move from elite restaurant plates to store shelves
  2. Super Powders: Super foods like matcha, maca root, cacao, turmeric and spirulina are still growing in popularity
  3. Functional Mushrooms: Reishi, chaga, cordyceps and lion’s mane are the next great fungi flavors
  4. Feast from the Middle East: Middle East flavors, like Persian, Israeli, Moroccan, Syrian, Lebanese, Harissa, Cardamom, Za’atar, Shakshuka and Halloumi become mainstream
  5. Transparency 2.0: Everything from GMO status to animal welfare, consumers want the bigger story
  6. High-Tech Goes Plant-Forward: Science used to create processes for meat product alternatives
  7. Puffed and Popped Snacks: Extruded snacks offer unique flavors, bases and textures
  8. Tacos Come Out of Their Shell: Taco modifications both in wrapper and filling, with increased popularity of all things Latin American
  9. Root-to-Stem: Using the entire vegetable
  10. Say Cheers to the Other Bubbly: Sparkling water beverages continue to gain a following
Campbell’s six food trends for 2018

SOURCE: Campbell’s Culinary and Baking Institute, as published in Food Navigator [Posted December 11, 2017]

  1. Culinary Heritage: Highlighting the personal stories that define our food
  2. Feel-Good Treats: Nutrient-dense, “healthy-ish” treats like protein enriched ice cream
  3. Meat Matters: Despite the growing trend for plant-based proteins, meat is still popular
  4. Botanical Beats: Value-adding herbs and spices help give sophisticated takes on beverages and snacks
  5. Alternatives Rule: The food mega trend of not adhering to traditional rules in cuisine
  6. Limited Edition Innovation: Exclusive flavor experiences and Instagram-worthy food

SOURCE: McCormick [Posted December 5, 2017]

  1. Handheld Flavor Fusion: Food truck and street fare gain popularity
  2. Globetrot with Hot Pot: Hot pots take on new life with easily changed ethnic flavors
  3. Drink to Your Wellness: Drinkable recipes for every meal of the day
  4. Japanese Izakaya Eats: Japanese gastropubs serve small plates with unique flavors such as miso sake yakitori glaze, furikake seasoning and onigiri
  5. A Bite of East Africa: Signature flavors such as Ethiopian berbere spice blend and Tanzanian BBQ are gaining favor around the globe

SOURCE: IFT [Posted December 27, 2017] The editors at Food Technology magazine, published by the Institute of Food Technologists, have announced their predictions on hot food trends for 2018.

  1. At-Home Food Production: More meals cooked and eaten at home
  2. A Retail Scramble: Mainstream grocery retailers must differentiate themselves
  3. Personalized Culinary GPS: Tools to help consumers with each step in the meal-making process
  4. Animal Welfare Versus Price: Consumers will not absorb the higher costs associated with “humanely raised” animal proteins
  5. Emphasis on Texture: It will continue to be a selling point
  6. A Flavor Explosion: Consumers are developing an appetite for new and exciting ethnic flavors
  7. Outsourcing In-Home Meals: Nearly one-third of all evening meals are now completely prepared outside of the home
  8. Dispelling Distrust: Building trust among consumers is key
  9. Analytical Advances: Institutions will continue to make the food supply even safer
  10. More Cachet for Recycled Packaging: Intelligent packaging will enable personalization of goods
  11. A Real Presence for Virtual Reality in Food Processing: As prices of virtual reality technology drop, greater use will occur in food processing

SOURCE: Mintel [Posted October 26, 2017]

  1. Full Disclosure: Transparency, clarity and simplicity
  2. Self-Fulfilling Practices: Focus on self-care and better-for-you eating
  3. New Sensations: Textures as major players
  4. Preferential Treatment: Technology integration in consumers’ lives, cooking and shopping habits
  5. Science Fare: Cultured meat and meat alternatives as well as other animal-free technologies

SOURCE: Forbes [Posted December 13, 2017]

  1. Mindfulness: Body-mind connections are influencing new food and beverage product introductions
  2. Tactile: Sense of touch
  3. Farming: Where food is coming from, and the drive for a more local source
  4. NeuroNutrition: How our foods affect our brains
  5. BioHacking: Breaking all the rules to create a science for more individualized nutrition and products
  6. Technofoodology: The relationship between “the internet of things” and food is here
  7. Advertising: Using the message of advertising to change perception on nutritional differences
  8. Security: Personal security will be top of mind in 2018, even in how food is bought and consumed
  9. Politics and Food: Policies that affect the world of food
  10. Future Supermarkets: It is time to rethink the four-walled structure

SOURCE: Datassential, as published on Smart Brief [Posted December 21, 2017]

  1. Pandan: Southeast Asian leaf that adds a sweet, grassy, vanilla-like flavor
  2. Ube: Natural color derived from purple yam
  3. Black garlic: Sweet, caramelized, umami-rich flavor
  4. Persimmon: Sweet and tangy fruit
  5. Kolsch: Look for lighter, more refreshing options to take a more prominent place on beer menus, like German kolsch
  6. Whey: Add this cheese byproduct to breakfast foods, smoothies and grains for a protein infusion
  7. Next-Generation Salt Curing: An ancient practice is trending again as chefs look for new applications
  8. Seeds: Look for new heirloom seed varieties to start showing up on menus
  9. Labneh: Rich, creamy, strained yogurt
  10. Rose Water: Adding a rich, floral note to cakes, ice creams, and drinks

SOURCE: Food & Drink Resources [Posted November 7, 2017]

  1. Brilliant Colors: Bright colors are back
  2. Soft Serve Goes Upscale: Soft serve ice cream with upscale flavors, think olive oil and sea salt
  3. Pizza AGAIN!: New and old styles of pizza
  4. Fungi Everywhere: Different ways of eating fungi and mushrooms
  5. Nostalgic Food: Beyond retro comfort, up-scaling nostalgic dishes
  6. Wines Stripped Bare Naked: Wines with no yeast, manipulation or chemicals
  7. Cure What Ails You: Focusing on overall well-being through foods
  8. 15 Flours and 12 Sweeteners Later: Product introductions in flours and sweeteners continue
  9. Local Like a European Local: U.S. local food trends down to micro level, following European trends
  10. The New Salad: The “new veg” will be the “new salad”
  11. Goodnight, Oats: Overnight oats have staying power

SOURCE: Andrew Freeman and Company, as published in Nation’s Restaurant News [Posted November 3, 2017]

  1. Chicken: For convenience and comfort
  2. “Fine-Casual”: Upscale counter-service with curated ingredients
  3. Israeli Cuisine
  4. Colorful Food: Instagram-worthy food and colors
  5. Creative Use of Waste
  6. Vegetable Entrees
  7. Contemporary Regional Mexican and Chinese
  8. Pizza: Both local and regional specialties, such as Detroit-style pizza
  9. Nostalgic Foods: Upscaling comfort foods
  10. Jewish Style Deli
  11. High-End No-Alcohol Drinks: House-made sodas and fruit juices with health claims
  12. “Farm to Shaker”: Cocktails with kitchen byproducts
  13. Adjacent Wine Bars: Restaurants are adding wine bars for those just looking for a drink
  14. Cold Brew 2.0: Cold brew coffee augmented with flavor ranging from hazelnut to lavender
  15. Mezcal: Tequila’s smoky cousin

SOURCE: Sterling Rice Group

  1. Spiced Coffee: It’s like Chai tea…except it’s coffee
  2. U.Mami: Interest in savory umami-based breakfast items like jianbing
  3. Moringa: The latest super food
  4. Slow Dough: Continuing fermentation in bread products
  5. Trendy Tea and the Chickpea: Interest in Burmese cuisine
  6. The Objectification of Food: More Instagram-worthy food dishes, truly eating with the eyes

SOURCE: Baum + Whiteman

  1. Plant-Based Foods Go Mainstream: Consumers are rapidly shifting to plant-based foods
  2. Three Next-Wave Cuisines: Philippine cuisine, Indian fast-casual street food, upscale Korean restaurants
  3. Avocado Isn’t Toast Yet; It Has Gone Baroque: Artsy avocado dishes
  4. The Technocrats are Taking Over: Rolling up of smaller delivery services and high-tech ordering
  5. Going Cashless: Some restaurants have stopped accepting cash
  6. Flavor Injectors: Injecting sweet and savory flavors into food
  7. What’s Next for Fast-Casual Restaurants (Besides Selling Us Booze)?: Streamlining and improving overall offerings at fast-casual dining establishments
  8. How Big is Your Bubble?: One-item restaurants are popping up again
  9. Dry-ish Ramen: Taking the soup out of ramen, calling it mazeman
  10. Feeding Your Face and Paying with Your Face: Facial recognition
  11. Getting Sloshed on a Slushie: Ma, There’s Bourbon in My Ice Cream! Boozing up desserts

SOURCE: National Restaurant Association

Top 20 Food Trends

  1. New Cuts of Meat: Cuts like shoulder tender, oyster steak and Vegas strip steak
  2. House-Made Condiments
  3. Street Food-Inspired Dishes:Versions of dumplings, tempura or kabobs
  4. Ethnic-Inspired Breakfast Items: Such as chorizo scrambled eggs and coconut milk pancakes
  5. Sustainable Seafood
  6. Healthful Kids’ Meals
  7. Vegetable Carb Substitutes: Foods like cauliflower rice and zucchini spaghetti
  8. Uncommon Herbs: Chervil, lovage, lemon balm, papalo
  9. Authentic Ethnic Cuisine
  10. Ethnic Spices: Like harrisa, curry, peri peri, ras el hanout, shichimi
  11. Peruvian Cuisine
  12. House-Made Pickles
  13. Heritage-Breed Meats
  14. Thai-Rolled Ice Cream
  15. African Flavors
  16. Ethnic-Inspired Kids’ Dishes: Tacos, teriyaki, sushi
  17. Donuts With Non-Traditional Filling Fillings like liqueur, Earl Grey cream
  18. Gourmet Items in Kids’ Meals
  19. Ethnic Condiments: Sriracha, sambal, chimichurri, gochujang, zhug
  20. Ancient Grains: Kamut, spelt, amaranth, lupin and more

Top 10 Concept Trends

  1. Hyper-Local Sourcing: Restaurant gardens, onsite beer brewing, house-made items
  2. Chef-Driven Fast-Casual Concepts
  3. Natural Ingredients/Clean Menus
  4. Food Waste Reduction
  5. Veggie-Centric/Vegetable-Forward Cuisine: Fresh produce is the star of the dish
  6. Environmental Sustainability
  7. Locally-Sourced Meat and Seafood
  8. Locally-Sourced Produce
  9. Simplicity/Back to Basics
  10. Farm/Estate-Branded Items

SOURCE: Restaurant Business, with Technomic [Posted October 27, 2017]

  1. Asian Island Cuisine: Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines; Flavors of sambal, kaffir lime, adobo and bagoong
  2. Gut Check: Prebiotic, probiotic, anti-inflammatory ingredients such as turmeric, aloe, flaxseed and skyr, as well as adding more complex heat to dishes
  3. On Target for Off-Premise: Growth in the delivery and takeout business
  4. Data Drives Everything: From personalized marketing to hyper customization
  5. Baby Boomers Bounce Back: Targeting this generation once again both in menus and for the restaurant workforce
  6. Workforce Development Gets Personalized: Personalized advancement programs for restaurant staff

SOURCE: Supermarket News

  1. Maple: The new pumpkin spice?
  2. Hispanic cheese climbs the charts
  3. Algae for its nutrients and sustainability: Easy to grow and can be used in milk, eggs, baking mixes and more
  4. Alternative sugars: Sweetening options like honey and syrups
  5. Dumplings dominate
  6. Seafood as a snack
  7. Snacking to indulge yourself: Snacking is a new way to reward yourself
  8. Earl Grey is everywhere
  9. Umami for breakfast: Jianbing is the next big breakfast thing
  10. Slow-growth chickens: Experimenting with chickens that grow more slowly and uniformly

SOURCE: Unilever

  1. Poke Bowls: Essentially sushi in bowl form
  2. Hybrid Food: Two or more different cuisines into a truly one-of-a-kind culinary treat
  3. Plant-Based Dining
  4. Fermented Food: From dairy products like yogurt and cheese, to vegetables like kimchi and pickles
  5. Colored Edibles and Floral Flavors: Natural ingredients with a colorful twist

SOURCE: Packaged Facts [Posted November 8, 2017]

  1. Cauliflower at Center & Side: Restaurants are designing more menu items to showcase fresh vegetables
  2. Eggs Benedict Trending Across Dayparts: Breakfast, brunch, and late night dayparts are getting creative attention
  3. Mac & Cheese Beyond the Box: Mac & cheese is being merchandised as a sociably shareable, Millennial-baiting food plate
  4. Meatballs are on a Roll: Meatballs are more than a spaghetti sidekick
  5. Olives Across the Board: Olives pack a lot of flavor, versatility and allure
  6. Better With Brown Butter: A double-down on comfort food flavor and texture
  7. Figuring out Figs: Figs appear on more upscale casual dining menus
  8. (Earl Grey) Tea Time at Dessert: Tea as a dessert or drink flavoring

SOURCE: Pinterest, as posted on POPSUGAR [Posted December 20, 2017]

  1. Air-Fried Everything: Cooking with an air fryer
  2. Souping Over Juicing: Sipping on soup instead of juice
  3. Coffee with Superpower: Adding protein powders and superfoods to a morning cup of coffee
  4. Sweet Heat from Morocco: North African spices including cumin, coriander, and cardamom are waking up taste buds
  5. Plant-Based Protein
  6. Snap Pea Snack Attack: Putting down the chips and picking up snappy veggies
  7. New Hot Sauces are On Fire: Flavors like gochujang are taking over
  8. Gheeking Out: Ghee, or clarified butter, will be everywhere next year
  9. Classic Desserts Getting the Vegan Treatment
  10. Mocktail Magic: Artisan ingredients are a non-alcohol drinker’s dream
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