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The Specialty Food Association Trendspotter Panel Predicts 2018 Food Trends

The Specialty Food Association Trendspotter Panel Predicts 2018 Food Trends

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

With Instagram-worthy concoctions and eye-catching twists to classics taking over food trends in 2017, food innovation is running at an all-time high. Sustainability, health, and traditional feasts are just some of the up-and-coming food crazes the Specialty Food Association predicts might take over 2018. The results are in, and the SFA’s Trendspotter Panel has named what they believe will be the hottest food trends in 2018.

Denise Purcell, Head Content, Specialty Food Association“Macro trends like sustainability and health are converging in the 2018 trends,” said Denise Purcell, Head of Content for the Specialty Food Association, in a press release. “The Panel is predicting more algae and other plant-based proteins and products meant to reduce food waste, as well as growth in the use of functional ingredients like activated charcoal, which is a base for the so-called ‘goth’ foods. But, while a lot of these trends speak to health and better-for-you choices, consumers’ demand for deeper flavor exploration is still strong, as evidenced by the interest in Filipino and regional Middle Eastern foods.”

Specialty Food Association 2018

Drawing perspectives from retail, foodservice, strategic marketing, and culinary education, panelists Ken Blanchette of FreshDirect, Jonathan Deutsch of Drexel University, Kara Nielsen of CCD Innovation, Perla Nieves and Alysis Vasquez of Midnight Market, Alison Tozzi Liu of the James Beard Foundation, and Elly Truesdell of Whole Foods Market predicted these top 10 trends for 2018:

1. Plant-based Foods

With its roots spreading throughout many categories, including meat substitutes, cheese, and frozen desserts, plant-based options, like meat-alternative algae, are enjoying the 2018 spotlight across convenience and major retail, and are winning over old and new fans alike.

2. Upcycled Products

As food waste continues to be a glaring problem in the U.S., consumers are seeking upcycled products made of ingredients and scraps that would have otherwise been discarded. Pressed juice made from imperfect fruit, chips made from fruit pulp, and snack bars made from the beermaking process are just some of the upcycled products attracting bigger appeal and expected to create a niche in the market in the coming year.

3. Filipino Cuisine

While the foods of the Philippines have not yet captured a broad U.S. audience, that’s all about to change. As American palates become more sophisticated and attuned to the complex flavors and bitter, sour notes of Filipino dishes, the #filipinofoodmovement will be a growing culinary force to be reckoned with in 2018.

4. Goth Food

2017 glimpsed goth foods, but 2018 is expected to be the Year of the Goths. With rainbow and unicorn foods in our rearview mirror, activated charcoal–produced by heating coconut shells to extremely high temperatures until they are carbonized–is gaining superfood status for its reported detoxifying attributes and maximum aesthetic. Creeping into everything from pizza crust to lemonade to ice cream, the ultimate goth takeover will be complete in 2018.

5. Alt-Sweet

With sugar topping the list of dietary watch-outs, consumers continue to look to alternative sweeteners for lower glycemic impact, fewer added-sugar calories, intriguing sweet flavors, and more sustainable footprints. Syrups made from dates, sorghum, and even yacon and sun root will join monk fruit on the market as emerging options to satisfy sweet cravings.

6. Product Labeling 2.0

More is more when it comes to product labeling and in 2018 consumers are expected to seek greater on-label visibility for all items in their shopping baskets, particularly for issues like GMO transparency, Fair Trade certification, responsible production, and no animal testing.

7. Root to Stem

Between nose-to-tail butchery and food waste reduction, sustainability and conscious consumerism meet again for root-to-stem cooking, which utilizes the entire fruit or vegetable, including things that are typically less commonly eaten like stems or leaves.

8. Cannabis Cuisine

With states legalizing recreational marijuana left and right, 2018 will witness an increase in the varieties of pot-enhanced food and beverage. Keep your eyes peeled for continued interest and greater acceptance of snacks, treats, and beverages made with a little something…extra.*

(*The Specialty Food Association recognizes that Federal law prohibits the possession, sale, or distribution of marijuana, but its sale and use is declared legal under some state laws. In recognizing cannabis as a food trend, the SFA in no way endorses or encourages activities which are in violation of state or Federal law.)

9. A (Deeper) Feast from the Middle East

While hummus, pita, and falafel were easy entry points in the past, American consumers are ready to expand their options and explore the deep traditions, regional differences, and classic ingredients of Middle Eastern cultures, with Persian, Israeli, Moroccan, Syrian, and Lebanese influences rising to the top.

10. The Rise of Traditional Bread

Although demand has been on the side of gluten-free in recent years, the traditional side of bakery is back as sourcing and fine-tuned production processes similar to proteins and vegetables are revived. Bakers are using local grains, milling the day before baking, and incorporating long proofing times, overall re-inventing what good bread means.

Additionally, the Trendspotter Panel says we'll see even more:

  • Cricket flour and non-grain sustainable proteins
  • Fermented Foods
  • Cocktail mixers and bitters for home use
  • Savory flavors where one would expect sweet
  • Pasture-raised animals for welfare, better health, and taste
  • Bananas transformed into milks, snacks, frozen desserts, and flours and baking mixes

And don’t forget to keep trends like eating for beauty with products like collagen-infused foods, new superfood moringa, and mushrooms (extracts, powdered, or whole) as functional ingredients in everything from chocolate to lattes, on your radar with the approach of 2018.

The Trendspotter Panel will reconvene at the trade-only Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco on January 21-23. For more information, visit, and for more trends in the deli, diary, and bakery world, keep checking back with Deli Market News.

Specialty Food Association

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