By Kamila Gierut
Every year, Symrise compiles a list of top trends relevant to the food and beverage world. At times, it’s hard to keep up with the ever changing micro trends often described as “new”, “trendy” or “hipster”. Think ramen burgers, cronuts or just about any rainbow version of everyday foods like bagels or burgers. Some of these trends have stood their ground for longer than we would have guessed, but after doing some in depth research, the marketing and consumer insights team at Symrise came up with 12 trends that we believe have been most popular and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
The methodology behind how we picked our trends is dependent on a few different factors – we looked at where the trend originated, main consumers driving them, different news stories and publications that mentioned the topic, restaurants and dishes around the US that exemplify these trends and lastly, Symrise’s own personal research based on marketing and consumer insights.
This year, we were excited to see that for the first time ever Google released a food trend report based on Google Search data. This is such a great piece of information for marketers, chefs, foodies, you name it. How do people these days feed their interest in food and drink? They search! Google has compiled a list of rising and declining food trends ranked by volume of searches that can be found here: 2016 Google Food Trends. Going through the data has shown us new insight on the digital trends that real consumers are searching for – whether it be to look up recipes, find a new restaurant or simply learn about different ingredients or dishes.
When we decided to compare our Symrise trends against Google’s, we found some interesting similarities. One of Google’s trending themes is “Food with a Function.” It’s a no-brainer that Americans are turning to food to fill needs beyond hunger. More people are looking for functional ingredients and better for you recipes to better their bodies and minds. Some of the top searches in functional foods are turmeric, apple cider vinegar, kefir, bone broth, cauliflower rice and high protein snacks. This functional food trend can be stretched across five different Symrise trends and here’s why:
- Veggies at the Center of the Plate - more millennials are considering a flexitarian diet… have you heard of “Meatless Mondays”? Vegetarian food is now inconspicuously meat free and elegantly technique-driven. Chefs and foodies are looking for different ways to use vegetables at the center of the plate which is why more consumers are looking for interesting ways to use veggies, like making cauliflower rice or zoodles, for example.
- Pickling/Sour/Fermentation – Fermenting is incredibly popular nowadays. We’re not just talking about beer here – we mean traditional fermented foods rich in lactic acid-producing bacteria – in short, probiotic foods. These foods help improve digestion and overall, maintain a healthy gut. Some foods/drinks with these qualities include sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and 2 of the most searched on Google – apple cider vinegar and kefir.
- Bowls – Bowls are the new plates! It all started with the incredibly photogenic smoothie bowls, but now bowls are branching out to lunch and dinner. So why are these so popular? Well it depends on what you put in your bowl, but they are typically customizable and healthy –boasting protein, whole grains, veggies and delicious sauces. The possibilities are endless!
- Souping & Bone Broth – Souping is the new juicing. Some people swear by this new souping craze seeing it as an opportunity to heal and nourish your body with wholesome ingredients. Soups can be far more filling and nutritious than juicing, which is a trend slowly starting to taper off. Aside from soups, we have seen bone broths taking off. According Google Keyword Trends, no one was searching for “bone broth” 5 years ago. Fast forward to 2016, and the term has skyrocketed in searches, and for good reason, too. The health benefits claim improved digestion and reduced joint pain, just to name a couple.
- Grains/Milling – 2016 has been the year of ancient grains and sprouted grains. These grains are high in protein, fiber and iron. Even though quinoa shows up on Google’s declining trend, other lesser known grains are making their debut (kamut, spelt, amaranth, etc.) One of dishes using grains that’s coming back into style is porridge.
So now we know health is most definitely on trend, but what else is taking over? Authentic ethnic flavors is a trend on both Google and Symrise's list, and it's not going anywhere fast. They call it “Traveling Through Taste”, mainly driven by millennial consumers and some of the top searched keywords include pho, ramen, bibimbap, taquitos, and mochi ice cream. It seems that consumers are experiencing new cultures through their taste buds and with the help of Google, they can now learn how to make the dishes themselves or find the nearest ethnic restaurants around them.
Symrise’s “Authentic Ethnic” trend focuses on flavors from North Africa, Southeast Asia and Beyond Mexico. We have been exploring the flavors and regions of Southeast Asia including Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam. Google did a deep dive into “pho” (a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup) which has been growing at a consistent rate of +11% year-over-year since 2013 with no intention of slowing down. We can see that consumers are interested in learning more about pho, and perhaps looking for products on the market to help them recreate the dish at home.
Moving on to Beyond Mexico, we have seen that there has been a consistent demand for Hispanic flavors due to the increase of the Hispanic population in America, which is why it’s no surprise to see keywords like Taquitos, Elotes, Pastelitos and Chamoy being searched for. In fact, 11 out of the top 20 global cuisine Google keywords are Latin American dishes or ingredients. Google could not have said it better – “As consumers strive to taste the world, there’s new opportunity for brands to help make these dishes DIY-friendly. Brands may also look into partnering with influencers to provide authentic cultural experiences via content and endorsements.”
Consumers will always be googling the next big thing and looking for trusted brands to help them in their changing habits. Both the Symrise and Google trends represent interesting opportunities for the food industry.