Which Food Trends Came True in 2019?

It is prediction time in the world of food trends. Before we start talking about our predictions for 2020, we took some time to analyze our 2019 top food trend predictions. We analyzed whether those trends evolved in 2019 or if they are still developing. This analysis helps guide our strategies for predicting 2020 food trends, and helps manufacturers to stay on-trend.

We predicted that 2019 would be a year for specificity. This means global flavors from specific regions of the world, naming pepper varietals in foods and a preference for not only clean label, but clear label. Here are our predictions with an analysis for each:

Global Flavor Trends: Global new product launches containing Middle Eastern flavors grew by nearly 22%, new launches containing berbere grew by almost 30% and new launches cintaining za'atar grew 25% from October 2018. Source: Mintel

Globally Inspired

Prediction: We expect to see even more region-specific flavors going global and entering product development as consumers continue to travel the world and try new foods. Regional flavors that will show up on lists include West African, Pacific Rim and Latin American.

Analysis: We saw globally inspired flavors in many publications throughout 2019. Trade shows like IFT showcased flavors from North and West Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, with flavors like za’atar and berbere. In fact, global new product launches containing za’atar grew 25% from October 2018, and berbere grew by almost 30%. Product launches containing Middle Eastern flavors grew by nearly 22%.

Spicy Specificity

Prediction: Hot and spicy flavors are getting more specific and complex. Consumers want more than just ‘hot’ or ‘mild.’ They want specific pepper varietals like ancho, poblano, guajillo and more. They are looking for both heat AND flavor from these peppers and want to pair them with other sweet, savory and tangy flavors.

Analysis: Consumers want to try specific pepper varietals as they learn more about heat differences between specific peppers. They look to brands for guidance on the heat level, but want the transparency of which pepper varietals they are tasting. Learn more about spicy specificity in our new eBook: Spicy Perceptions.

Fermented Flavors

Kimchi is a popular fermented food.Prediction: As consumers become increasingly interested in foods from around the world, fermented flavors like kimchi have also seen a rise in popularity. Providing probiotic properties and umami flavors, fermented foods are showing up on restaurant menus and grocery store shelves more often.

Analysis: One of the more well-known fermented foods, kimchi, saw a 6% increase in product launches since October 2018, and a 3% increase on menus. Kimchi is most commonly found in Korean restaurants, and we expect to see it continue to become more popular in restaurants and grocers in other regions of the world as well.

Clear Label Attributes

Prediction: Consumer ideals on what should and should not be on a label is ever-changing. We are seeing more consumers prefer to see more transparency on labels. They want to know more about processing techniques, people and animal welfare, and what is being done to improve environmental impact in the production process. We call these types of information clear label attributes as they are an evolution of clean label attributes.

Analysis: We saw an increase in companies touting clear label attributes, like improving environmental impact, in the food industry during 2019. We expect as issues like climate change continue to gain awareness, more companies will take action and label claims will follow suit.

Plant-Based Proteins

Prediction: The trend for plant-based proteins is expected to expand even more in 2019. More companies are widening their vegetarian and vegan options to attract flexitarian and other dieting consumers. This means traditional vegetarian options like the black bean burger are being joined by plant-based proteins made to look and taste like actual meat.

Analysis: We saw the trend for plant-based proteins become more mainstream in 2019 through several quick service restaurants (QSR) like Burger King, Carl’s Jr. and Dunkin’ Donuts, as well as an increase in availability on menus and in grocery stores.

Alcohol Infusions

Prediction: Driven by Millennials, the trend for alcohol in food will appear more in 2019. Foodies are finding that alcohol flavors pair well with traditionally savory and sweet notes. Tying in to the craft beer craze, consumers are now more than ever interested in seeing specific flavor pairings with their favorite foods. On the opposite side of this spectrum, we are also seeing an increase in interest for non-alcoholic artisan cocktails and beverages.

Analysis: While we did see some increase in interest in alcohol in food throughout 2019, it is a niche market that is not quite mainstream. There was a significant increase in interest for non-alcoholic artisan cocktails and beverages, however, led by hard seltzers.

Handcrafted at a Premium

Prediction: Foods that tell a story or offer additional benefits are increasingly preferred by consumers. The rise of craft products like beer, cheese, baked goods and meat has led to an artisan food movement that reaches far beyond traditional homemade products. Consumers are looking to splurge more often and want signature crafted and premium products that tell a story they can relate to.

Analysis: This movement plays on the trend for transparency in food, and knowing the person that is making it. As food transparency continues to grow, we expect to see this trend for handcrafted foods as a delicacy continue as well.

Check out our full list of 2019 top food trend predictions:

Top Food Trend Predictions for 2019

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

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