Just like you would expect to see in fashion or beauty, food can be quite trendy. The trends change year over year and season to season, so we caught up with Meredith Barnett, Huffington Post and PSFK writer, who researched the latest 10 hot food trends out there, to get the scoop. We’ve recapped five of these interesting food trends that seem to be popping up everywhere!
1. Beauty and the Feast
Edible ingredients have always starred in lotions and potions—think of the black tea, ginger, aloe, avocado, chamomile, and lemon that are probably key ingredients in the bottles lining your bathroom shelves, not to mention the DIY beauty treatments you might whip up at home. But historically, what was on the up-and-up in food was fairly unrelated to what was going on in beauty. Now, however, we’re seeing ingredients become popular in food and beauty almost simultaneously.
One example? Charcoal. Activated charcoal supplements are now all the rage in health circles for supposedly helping your body rid itself of toxins. You’ll find activated charcoal in all sorts of juices, most notably from national chain Juice Generation, which has its own line of charcoal-based juices that allegedly add an “energizing glow” to your daily routine. Yet at the same time that people are eating and drinking charcoal, we’re also seeing it show up in mainstream topical skin-care products from beauty brands such as Clinique and Bioré. Whether they help or not is still a hot debate.
In addition to seeing trendy ingredients popping up simultaneously in food and beauty products, you can expect the categories to couple even more closely—with food brands making more claims about beauty and perhaps even beauty brands coming out with treatments you can eat and drink.
2. Instagram Engineered Eating
We can probably all agree that social media has become an enormous source of information (and inspiration) on food and dining. Yet a desire to be Instagram-friendly is also affecting, to a great degree, how food trends and products occur in the first place.
One of the year’s biggest food fads, layered salads in reusable jars, is perfectly Pinterest-friendly. On a related note, we seem to be as crazed about bowls right now as we are about jars. First it was smoothie bowls—the wellness craze that is basically a superfood-packed smoothie topped with all sorts of exotic berries, seeds and nuts. Now the movement has extended to lunch and dinnertime bowls that combine a grain, a green, and a protein with a sauce or dressing.
When it comes to the way Instagram and its users are affecting our national menus, look no further than Chili’s, which spent a reported $750,000 to make its food more Instagram-friendly. The chain’s CEO told Bloomberg his team was focused less on how food tastes and more on how it’s presented. Fries served in stainless-steel containers instead of plastic baskets, burgers placed higher on the plate and buns that are more visually appealing are all recent changes explicitly intended to encourage more mealtime selfies.
3. Happier Meals
The past year has witnessed a movement—if not a revolution— to cheer up, of all things, the brown-bag lunch. Making happier meals is a thing for grownups. But it’s an even bigger deal when it comes to kids. For every blogger out there encouraging grown-ups to step up their lunch, there are a dozen of them focused on doing the same for children.
The current generation of parents has a greater understanding of the importance of instilling healthy habits from an earlier age. If making lunch in the shape of a squirrel or boat means your kids will be more likely to eat it, then the feeling is that it’s worth it. The risk in all this is that those of us who feel overwhelmed just getting through the day between work and life will feel resentful of the pressure to one-up the next mom who is sending her daughter to the school cafeteria with a mermaid carved out of a purple sweet potato and lying on a bed of quinoa sand. Enough said…
4. Healthy Snacking
Gone are the days when moms would throw their kids a sleeve of animal crackers and grab some cottage cheese for themselves. There used to be “kids’ snacks” and “grownup snacks.” Nowadays, snacking is cross-generational. As adults become more educated about nutrition, they’re demanding more wholesome snacking choices for the whole family. The idea of everyone sitting around a table snacking on kale chips is a very modern one.
At Nourish Snacks, we find that kids love our snacks as much as adults do. We like to say that our snacks are loved by kids of all ages—1 to 100. They are gluten-free, dairy-free, non-GMO, but most importantly, they taste delicious!
5. Food Tribes
Are you Paleo? Vegan? Raw? Gluten-free? Here are some statistics from Next, a health and wellness product consulting group:
- Forty-four percent of adults say food restrictions, food allergies or avoidance of certain ingredients dictate what they eat.
- Self-identified “food tribe” members spent $92 billion in 2014. That’s 12.5 percent of U.S. food sales.
- The gluten-free market is expected to grow 68 percent in the next five years, to a total annual spend of $21 billion in 2020. Good thing Nourish Snacks are all naturally gluten-free! (Just saying.)
- Similarly, Paleo will grow 364 percent, vegetarian/vegan will grow 86 percent and raw will grow 101 percent. Suffice it to say that food tribes aren’t a fad; they’re a lifestyle.
Food Tribes have become real communities in the way they bring people together and connect them.
Wondering what else is trending in food? You can read the full report and all 10 trends here, as prepared by Meredith Barnett for Havas PR.