By Chef Noah Michaels
Every year, our Chefs, Marketers and other passionate food lovers, travel all over the country and the world; eating, drinking and attending food and beverage conferences looking for new flavors. While we love hearing about new restaurants and dishes, this year we decided to compile our Foodie Agents notes and tasked our Marketeers to dig deeper into all of this incoming trend data. We wanted to separate out the fads, far out ideas and some flat out culinary mishaps from the meaningful, consumer insight driven trends.
Our Marketing team did a great job filtering out the background noise and identifying 12 culinary trends for 2016 and beyond which our Culinary team finds invaluable for use during brainstorming and prototype creation. We’re happy to share the inaugural version of the Symrise 2016 Trend Report with the public and hope you will find it as useful and insightful as we do.
Our top 12 trends for 2016 are:
- Vegetables at the Center of the Plate – No longer an afterthought to go with mashed potatoes and a meat, vegetables have become the stars of many dishes. While not necessarily vegetarian, we see many more vegetable driven menu and retail items emerging over the next few years.
- Pickling/Sour – We continue to see consumers crave the deep funky flavors associated with pickling and fermentation. Whether in the form of a cocktail shrub, a cured meat or a bowl of bubbling Kim Chi these flavors will continue to drive liking in dishes and products.
- Bowls – Bowl restaurants and menu mentions are popping up everywhere. The best of these all in one dishes offer contrasting textures, flavors, colors and even temperatures to make sure every bite is different. These bowls represent a great on the go meal for busy multitaskers who won’t get any less busy in the coming years.
- Souping – Souping is the new juicing. Boutique soup cleanse shows are popping up in cities, offering a more satisfying way to detox. Soup cleanses typically have more fiber to keep you full longer and less sugars that traditional juices making them easier on consumers stomachs.
- Authentic Ethnic – As most of us are learning, consumers are much more educated about food today and are seeking out more authentic versions of the ethnic foods that they love. As mainstream consumers become more accepting of ethnic food, demographic information shows there will be a steady uptick in Asian and Hispanic consumers who expect authenticity as well.
- Gourmet Junk – Chefs love to make premium versions of junk foods they grew up with and consumers continue to eat it (and Instagram) it up. We continue to see Gourmet Junk items show up and bar and small plate menus while fried chicken and poutine trend towards upscale.
- Smoke – Smoke as a flavor, including burnt and charred continues to show up on menus. While it’s mostly where you would expect it to be, in meat and vegetable dishes, it’s also starting to show up in desserts and cocktails as well.
- Sweet Heat – Sweet and Spicy continues to dominate menus, especially on the sauce front and has found widespread acceptance on menus. You could put sweet Thai chili sauce on just about anything and I’d probably order it.
- Cheese Goes Gourmet – If you haven’t noticed the proliferation of gourmet mac and cheese on menus, you haven’t been paying attention. Consumers are looking for specific cheese variety call outs on menu and retail items and will no longer accept yellow as a type of cheese.
- Grains/Milling – In conjunction with the above trends of Vegetables at the center of the plate and bowls, ancient and whole grains are showing up on menus everywhere. Much of this trend is being driven by passionate farmers and millers such as Anson Mills, which is partly responsible for the Southern Culinary Renaissance.
- Citrus on Fire – Citrus has always been a great way to brighten up a dish. Consumers, Chefs and Product Developers are looking past the squeeze of lemon and replacing it with exotic citrus like Meyer Lemon, Yuzu and Lima. In addition to using citrus fruits fresh, grilling and charring them for extra complexity is on the rise as well.
- Butter/Fat – Anyone who’s been to culinary school knows the adage fat is flavor, the good news is the days of low fat everything are over and consumers are accepting real butter, duck fat fries and even bone marrow.
For even more information, see the presentation below: