Millennials are spending the majority of their disposable income on experiences, as opposed bone marrow burgers, harissa or umami flavored anything, or duck fat French fries in the conversation of Western food. Did you know Kale even existed prior to 2008?
Like many, I'm grateful for the culinary variety that globalization is bringing the world. For me, food is the most sacred and intimate gateway into all that reflects a community’s culture; it is clear more inhabitants of the developed world have adopted that perspective and incorporated it into their lifestyles. Some of the great evangelists of this movement
Integrating more food by-products:
The average consumer is self-aware of his or her duty to partake in the sustainability movement. Once upon a time, during the hunter-gatherer evolutionary stage of Homosapiens, humans only ate bone marrow and other scraps and remnants of animal remains and seldom ate muscle tissue. Now, for the sake of sustainability as well as the health benefits of a diversified diet, humans are reverting back to the openness to foods the Industrial and Green Revolution robbed from us as a population. The world eats a ton of soy but so much of it is disposed of. There are a couple of Bay Area startups dehydrating soy by-products among other common legumes, nuts, and grains and commercializing them as flour alternatives for gluten intolerant people. We are excited to see what innovative, interesting, and tasty new food products can evolve from the use of more by-products in creative US food environments.
Eggs on everything:
Anthony Bourdain is a Renaissance Man, inspirer, finder of cool things, and all around crowd favorite. This year, he famously bashed Kobe beef sliders, truffle oil, avocado toast and six other “trendy” foods that are regularly eaten by the younger audiences of today. Although his delivery is labeled as mean and pretentious by many, he may have been sharing very valuable insight about the next direction food trends in the US.
He predicted Filipino food to be the next cuisine to blow up in US markets. Aside from lumpia and other Filipino staples that are already becoming popularized, the highly-varied cuisine of the Philippines incorporates eggs into many of their dishes. Eggs are a protein source that pair wonderfully at any consistency with meats, rice, and vegetables. They are also a relatively cheap protein source that can easily be obtained locally from sustainable sources that consider animal welfare – it’s a win-win-win for everyone, including the hens. We expect to see several food creatives adopting eggs as a menu item staple to satisfy the rice with protein cravings of the millennial generation. Eggs and rice could very well be the new beans and rice, or maybe all three.
Filets of fish you thought belonged only in aquariums:
Lionfish and pike are invasive species to the Southeastern US’ and Northern Atlantic waters that negatively disrupt the food chains of new ecosystems and deplete other species as a result of that disruption. These fish are bony and not easy or pleasurable to filet, even for chefs who might enjoy the process. This is the main barrier as to why these fish have not become a mainstream favorite among seafood enthusiasts. But the fact of the matter is we cannot keep eating salmon, tuna, and other US consumer favorites because of dwindling populations and unfavorable consequences (radiation, anyone?).
A fish biologist in Canada’s department of agriculture has a well-written blog on her case against eating fish which you can check out here. Regardless of how much negative information is released in a particular industry, consumer habits rarely appear to change to the degree they need to in order to turn around the negative impacts on the planet. This is why providing alternatives for people is highly more effective than encouraging people to completely omit a major food item from their diet.
I have already been noticing more catfish on Bay Area Asian menus, another more sustainable, freshwater option. That openness needs to spill over to the use of other adventurous fish species. Hopefully we can expect to see that happen more in 2018.
Overall, there are promising things to look forward to in the food world as food quality, variety, and culture becomes a more integral part of every-day life for the American eater. Remember the drivers when forecasting the next food trend for your restaurant: sustainability, affordability, culture, palatability, and nutrition -- it’s the sweet spot of those 5 factors that are going to pave the way for the next hot items people will be raving about.