A Look Backward and Forward: Culinary Trend Mapping Report

Attention: There is an updated edition available for this report.



Over the 2008-2012 period, many early-stage culinary trends (chia seeds, gastropub fare, pie, banh mi sandwiches, poutine) marched farther along the CCD Innovation Trend Map® , while a number of mid-stage trends (Greek yogurt, coconut water, Mexican cheeses, waffles as carriers) have largely gone mainstream . Looking back over this period offers valuable insights into the key consumer drivers that have had the most power to propel trends: Health & Wellness, Authentic Appeal, Artisan Appreciation and Local & Sustainable.

A Look Backward & Forward: Culinary Trend Mapping Report
tracks some of the big ways we think differently about food in 2013:

  • Food media proliferation is at an all-time high, including today’s now ubiquitous social media platforms
  • Due to paradigm as well as demographic shifts, global flavors have become celebrated as part of the norm for America’s diverse consumers; the always leaky distinction between “traditional” or “mainstream” American and “ethnic” or “foreign” has simply stopped holding water.
  • Food can be found and purchased at more retail locations with each passing year, especially fresh, prepared items
  • Local, seasonal and sustainable food products continue to grow in popularity, especially within the natural foods channel and from farmers markets and food trucks
  • Consumers increasingly expect to be informed in detail about what’s in their food and where it came from, and have the smart tools to access this information when deciding what to buy

A Look Backward & Forward: Culinary Trend Mapping Report specifically charts some early stage restaurant and packaged food and beverage trends by daypart or product category, as well as profiling the following key trends and what to expect from them in the future:

Chia Seeds:
A number of combined forces or groups did the heavy lifting to move the three trends to Stage 3. For chia seeds, well-informed natural food lovers and wellness subscribers, always on the look-out for the next star ingredient, got excited about chia because of its many nutrients and its ease of use. Add hardcore runners to the mix, then health-seeking women often chatting on blogs and Facebook, and you have a lot of momentum.

The New Cocktail:
the sheer number of Generation Y cocktail lovers and a well-organized spirits and cocktail industry helped move New Cocktails out of trendy bars and speakeasies and onto chain restaurant menus.

Third Wave Coffee:
the growing food movement with its values in artisan production, connoisseur collecting, and sustainable food production is popular among younger coffee drinkers, many excited to try new Third Wave coffee products and identify with a broader urban identity to be found in the hip cafés where these brews are served.

Consumers are turning to quinoa to answer a number of their needs—for a superfood packed with protein, as a way to lose weight, as a gluten-free food, as a vegetarian protein, as a new ingredient to bake with (and maybe even gluten-freely) and as a representative of still-exotic Peruvian cuisine, an up-and-comer on the global culinary scene for some years now.

Coconut Water:
The increase in the Asian and Hispanic populations can also be considereda force behind coconut water, familiar to both native cultures coming from the tropics. The growth of the natural foods channel has given both products a home, along with the increase in beverage cases in convenience stores, drug stores and campus foodservice for coconut water.

Farm-Raised Seafood:
Local & Sustainable issues around seafood have pushed Farm-Raised Seafood to the top of the Trend Map®. In QSRs and mainstream grocery stores, most of the fish is farmed because wild stocks have been decimated. These issues will also continue to play out with meat and poultry in the years to come.

Greek Yogurt:
Greek Yogurt has benefited from the power of several drivers, first and foremost Wholesome Nutrition, under the broader Health & Wellness category. Interest in Digestive Health, also under this umbrella, increased sales of probiotic-rich yogurt across the board while simultaneously influencing the rise of Gluten-Free foods. Authentic Appeal also comes into play as many consumers connect thick, creamy Greek-style yogurt with its Old World roots.

Salty Sweets:
Salty Sweets, whether in the form of salted caramel and chocolate or other savory combos (think Pretzel M&Ms), tapped into the recession-driven Comfort & Indulgence trend. Artisan candy makers and pastry chefs in the lower stages of the Trend Map® leveraged this more sophisticated combo, reigniting interest in a long-time palate pleasing flavor profile.

  • Executive Overview
    • Why A Look Backward & Forward?
  • Key Trend Drivers
  • Trend Summary: Where are they now?
  • close-ups
    • chia seeds
    • the new cocktail
    • third wave coffee
    • quinoa
    • coconut water
    • farm-raised seafood
    • greek yogurt
    • salty sweet
  • Strategic Implications
    • Opportunities Looking Forward
  • Sources

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