Category Archives: Food Trends

Happy New Year … a look at 2015 in food

foodcollageHappy New Year! As looks forward to a healthy, educational 2016 in a world with fewer unhealthy ingredients, and more nutritionally aware consumers, we’re looking back at 2015 to see what we can find in terms of trends and important food issues that came to the forefront this year. Here’s a look at 2015 in food.

Cage-free, antibiotic-free, artificial-free. Sound familiar?

Many of the world’s biggest food companies announced major changes this year — in what they purchase and how they manufacture their food.

Many of the big moves we saw came from companies striving to bring more transparency to their supply chain. McDonald’s pledged to source chickens raised without antibiotics. Dunkin’ Donuts and Costco are switching to cage-free eggs.

Some companies signaled to customers that they were “cleaning up” and simplifying their ingredient lists. Panera ditched dozens of additives. Even Lucky Charms and Butterfingers are getting minor makeovers: General Mills and Nestle said they’re removing artificial colors and flavors from their products.
“Big Food is definitely feeling the pressure,” Scott Allmendinger, who consults with food companies for the Culinary Institute of America, told us. Packaged-food companies lost $4 billion in market share last year, according to a Fortune analysis.

A 2015 Nielsen survey found an increasing number of consumers say they’re willing to pay a premium for “all natural,” “clean” and minimally processed foods. (As we’ve reported, it’s hard to know what any of these terms actually mean. The federal government is soliciting input for how to define “natural.”) And, it seems, these foods marketed as cleaner and more natural are blending into mainstream grocery stores. One example: the success of Kroger’s Simple Truth line of products, which focus on “simpler” and organic ingredients.

“Consumers are slowly migrating away” from the center aisle of the grocery store that’s filled with processed baked goods and canned foods, says Jack Russo, an analyst with Edward Jones, a financial advisory firm.
At the same time, the sales of foods marketed as “local” have surged to $11 billion a year. The organic and natural sector, including GMO-free and gluten-free, is growing at about 8 to 10 percent a year, says Russo.
Russo sees this trend continuing, with growth continuing in the 6 to 8 percent range for the next few years, he says.

Food Waste
Another issue that gained traction this year: the 133 billion pounds of food wasted in the U.S. annually.

To put a visual to this estimate, imagine filling a huge skyscraper such as the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower) 44 times.

That’s the image that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack used when he announced in October a new national goal to reduce food waste by 50 percent by the year 2030.

Everyone who eats could play a role in reducing waste. And we have plenty of moral imperatives to do it. As Pope Francis once said, some food waste is akin to “stealing from the table of those who are poor and hungry.” The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that the typical American family tosses out about $1,600 a year in groceries.

There’s plenty wasted on farms, too, some of which is entirely unavoidable. But as we documented in this story, a lot of food isn’t harvested simply because it’s not quite up to our cosmetic standards. Often, bags of salad and plenty of other edible food items end up in landfills because they won’t stay fresh long enough to be shipped across the country. A number of NGOs and startups are trying to figure out how to get more of it into the hands of the hungry and the people happy to pay less for imperfect produce.

The environmental footprint of food waste is significant. As we’ve reported, all that food we toss out is creating billions of tons of greenhouse gases, and costing us precious water and land.

Foodborne Illness
This year also brought some high-profile outbreaks of foodborne illness. If you’re a Chipotle stockholder, you’re probably well aware of the fallout.

As we’ve reported, Chipotle Mexican Grill is linked to two separate outbreaks of E. coliinfections. The first outbreak sickened 53 people in nine states and prompted the temporary closure of many Chipotle locations in Washington and Oregon.

Then, in early December an outbreak of norovirus sickened at least 120 people in Boston, mostly students at Boston College. Most of the sick students reported eating at a nearby Chipotle.

As our colleague Dan Charles reported, city health inspectors cited Chipotle for allowing a sick employee to work his shift. In the violation report, the inspectors specified that the restaurant should follow its employee illness policy.

Though the Chipotle outbreak got a lot of attention, there are thousands of outbreaks of norovirus each year.

The CDC says norovirus is the leading cause of foodborne disease in the U.S. It’s estimated that about 20 million people a year get sick with it.

The vast majority of outbreaks are caused by infected workers. So, hopefully, the lesson learned in 2015 is this: Restaurants need to keep sick workers off the job.

The CDC estimates that 1 in 5 food service workers has gone to work while sick with vomiting or diarrhea. “It is vital that food service workers stay home if they are sick,” says the CDC’s Aron Hall. He says businesses should consider measures such as paid sick days.

Innovation And Investment In Food And Agriculture
While Big Food is hustling to keep up with changing consumer tastes and values, hundreds of new and nimble companies are entering the marketplace to compete with them. A report by the Dutch banking group Rabobank found that investment in food and agriculture is set to surpass $4 billion by the end of the year.

Rabobank thinks we’re headed toward a “smarter food system.” And plenty of companies and investors want to help us get there. How? Mainly, with technology and (big) data tools for both consumers and farmers.

Venture capitalists are excited about food and agriculture, too, and are pouring money into startups. Entrepreneur reported earlier this year that “startups all along the food chain — from farmers and tech companies to home cooks — are reaping huge rewards [from venture firms]: $2.06 billion invested in the first half of 2015 … nearly as much as the $2.36 billion total for 2014.” likes the direction in which we’re headed. We’re excited to see consumer trends following a healthier, more natural path. And we couldn’t be more pleased about how food manufacturers are reacting to that consumer path. We’re expecting to see more of the same in 2016 and beyond!

Happy New Year!

Pinterest shares top food trends to be on the lookout for in 2016

We know that predictions can be made with a fair amount of accuracy by following internet trends. While would avoid making statements like “just because you read it on the internet in 100 different places you can bet that it’s true,” we’d also assume that when new foods begin to show up on the internet on a variety of different websites that a trend is beginning to grow. What better site to look to when trying to spot those trends than Pinterest? TODAY Food showcased those trends as Pinterest shares top food trends to be on the lookout for in 2016. TODAY also added their own take on each trend. couldn’t resist including our own spin for every new food fun moment we may be able to expect in the new year!

10. Veggie swaps
According to Pinterest, people will continue to cut calories by swapping veggies for their favorite carbs, meats and more.

Today Food’s Take: We’re already spiralizing vegetables to make delicious pastas, braising carrots like a hunk of beef and serving cauliflower like a hearty steak. This trend may be No. 10 on this list but we hope and think it will become the No. 1 trend over time. Food Forecast: Dieting and/or healthy eating should never mean deprivation. The idea of swapping out high calorie, high fat food items for flavorful veggies that offer health benefits is a trend we want to see grow and continue!

9. Beertails
Today Food’s Take: Wait, beer cocktails, as in beer with booze? Oh yes, we’ve been on board with this trend since we tasted our first Sake Bombs in college. Bring on the Beermosas! Food Forecast: We’ll admit it … beer and cocktails really aren’t in our wheelhouse. We think this sounds like fun, though and would be willing to give it a try.

8. Homebrews
Today Food’s Take: We’ve tasted some great homemade beers over the past two years so we say keep them coming. Food Forecast: Ditto our comments on Number 9!

7. Gourmet heritage cuisine
Pinterest explains this trend as “gourmet spins on traditional cultural cuisines.”

Today Food’s Take: High-end kosher food anyone? As long as it tastes great, we’re there. Food Forecast: Any homemade traditional cultural dish can be livened-up and modernized – that’s where restaurant trends come from!

6. Snacking and bento boxes
Today Food’s Take: This is organization on another level. We can’t help wondering if Tupperware will further this trend with a new line of portable bento boxes. Food Forecast: We’d love to see Today Food’s Take become a reality. believes any and all encouragement we can get for preparing our own foods in our own kitchens is the great wave of the future.

5. Pour-over coffee
Making one cup of coffee at a time by slowly pouring a steady stream of hot water from a skinny-spouted Hario kettle into a coffee-filled filter is our favorite way to make coffee at home—when we’re not in a rush. Will this trend take off for families on-the-go? We’re guessing not.

Today Food’s Take: Don’t get rid of your coffee machine just yet. Food Forecast: We’re going with Today on this one!

4. Savory desserts and dishes unseating sweets
Today Food’s Take: Hmm. Parmesan French Toast with Hollandaise does sound delicious, but we’re doubtful it or any other savory dish could take over the popularity of a gooey chocolate or caramel dessert. Food Forecast: We’re not betting heavily on Number 4. There’s a reason that desserts are sweet. They follow a savory dinner. We wouldn’t look forward to a one-note dining experience.

3. DIY artisan olive oils
Today Food’s Take: Store-bought flavored oils never taste quite right so we can get behind these. Food Forecast: It always tastes better when it’s made in your own kitchen.

2. Distilling your own booze
We’re talking bathtub gin and homemade whiskey (which is more likely to become moonshine).

Today Food’s Take: This could be fun for a one-time experiment, but the best booze is aged and we’re too impatient to wait a year or two. Food Forecast: While this isn’t our expertise, we really can’t imagine the kind of effort (not to mention equipment) that making your own booze requires. We don’t think this is for everybody. And if it isn’t for everybody, how can it be a trend?

1. Avocado oil
According to Pinterest, it will become the new coconut oil.

Today Food’s Take: Look, given the fact that avocado toast took over the internet for a few years, we would never underestimate the power of any part of the popular fruit. Food Forecast: Other trends beware. We really think this one has legs. If we were inclined to place bets, we’d be betting on avocado oil!

That was fun! We love to look forward to new food facts for a new year and just how we can expect healthy eating to play a major role in it! Are there any new trends you expect to play a big part in your healthy lifestyle in 2016? Let us know!

The new food year — expected trends in food and nutrition choices in 2014

Every new year brings with it new food choices and consumer trends in nutrition. So what are dietitians expecting 2014 to bring? has looked into what the experts have to say that might help shape the contents of our grocery store shelves in the coming 12 months. Have you been thinking about any of these trends as they pertain to your own diet?


Wheat-Free Eating
Dieticians predict that consumers will continue their interest in going wheat-free in the new year. While there’s no factual evidence supporting wheat or gluten free diets for weight loss or health (unless someone has a sensitivity or disease), consumers are finding wheat-free eating a fast tool for weight control. Wheat-free diets will make it to the top of the list for popular diet plans in 2014.

The decline of the low-fat diet
Dietitians are expecting that the low-fat diet will be the least-embraced diet plan of the year. Low-carb diets may pick up in popularity, while interest in low-fat eating falls off. We might attribute this to the renewed interest in healthier eating and ingredients as consumers become more concerned about how low-fat foods are produced.

Healthy eating becomes a bigger focus for food shoppers
More and more consumers are becoming educated shoppers. Ingredients and nutrition labels are a bigger concern than ever and consumers everywhere are spending more time considering the nutritional value of their purchases. This trend is expected to continue and grow in the coming year, giving food manufacturers a bigger opportunity than ever to respond to consumer concerns.

The continued lack of sound nutritional information
While it’s a good thing that consumers are more concerned than ever about the nutritional value of the foods they consume, dietitians are reporting that most of the nutritional information consumers are using is based on personal beliefs and popular concepts that are half-truths. Shoppers aren’t relying on actual published research for their information. This trend is also, unfortunately, expected to continue into the new year.

Increased interest in local and sustainable foods
Dietitians tell us that more and more consumers are looking to be more eco-conscious at the grocery store. The trend with their clients seems to be towards increasing purchases of locally produced and more sustainable foods.

The search for more and better nutrition and diet information is on
The majority of dietitians agree that American’s interest in nutrition and weight loss information will continue to grow in 2014. We hope that instead of relying on friends, relatives and articles from less-reliable sources, consumers turn to and other viable information resources in answer to their nutrition-information quest. We’ve got some big plans for the new year that will help nutritionally-conscious consumers stay committed to their healthy lifestyles! wishes everyone in our community the happiest, most prosperous and healthiest of new years. Have a wonderful 2014!