Our sweet tooth is constantly evolving in many new and unexpected ways. We’ve compiled a list of what trends we should be seeing in the “sweet area in 2016.” What seems clear from most of the developments we have seen in regards to desserts or in fact, anything sweet, is that sweeteners are undergoing intense scrutiny. The “super sweet” desserts of yesterday are becoming more refined and transformed for modern tastes.
1. Artisanal Ice Cream – In 2016, look for more artisanal, handcrafted chef-inspired ice creams featuring unusual flavors that will reflect the cuisine served in the restaurant. These flavors may not be necessarily sickeningly sweet. This trend is reported on multiple sites and surveys (Eater.com, November 9, 2015).
2. Savory/Sweet – Food Business News, reporting consumer research by the Sterling-Rice Group (October 19, 2015), shows “sweet” as becoming more complex to the Millennial target as it is combined with savory and sour ingredients. Look for the addition of cider vinegars and Umami flavors to sweet foods, snacks and beverages.
3. Kid’s Breakfast Cereals – According to Phil Lempert (Phil’s 2016, Food Trend Forecast, November 20, 2015), kid’s cereals will tout a lack of anything artificial and will continue to make a move to much healthier, less sugary ingredients. This move is being made as more research indicates the negative effects of sugar on children’s obesity.
4. Smoothie Bowls – This dessert, reported by different juice and dessert bars, will be made from frozen fruit pulps and fruits such as Acai or Blueberry and topped with everything from chocolate chips and peanut butter to granola and coconut. This dessert movement is seen as a healthy variant to sugary smoothies.
5. Natural Fast Food – Chains such as Panera are reportedly going to eliminate up to 150 artificial sweeteners, colorings and flavors by the end of 2016. This pressure is coming from Millennials’ desire for healthier foods and by parents who want their kids to eat less sugar.
6. Sugar Rebound Effect – The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics along with other researchers have reported on a rebound effect with sugars and that even after 5 months of a low sugar diet, consumers will rebound to the pre-diet intake levels once off the diet. Look for more research in this area – and possibly, more negative publicity for sugary desserts. This may be an opportunity for new flavors combined with lower sugar levels.
7. Bananas – The banana, long a staple of sundaes, smoothies, ice cream and granola, has been under a certain amount of pressure as there are strong rumors of extinction of the fruit. According to studies by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, these extinction rumors are exaggerated and may only affect 10 percent of the crop.
8. New Strawberries – According to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, the new “Sweet Sensation” variety of strawberries is starting to hit supermarket shelves. This strain will add strawberry sweetness to desserts without artificial sweeteners. Production will expand in 2016. What is meaningful about this development, and undoubtedly there is more to follow, is that the sweetening effects of a dessert may be built into natural ingredients rather than needing to be added.
9. Street Food/Food Trucks – Making it into the Top 20 Trends for the National Restaurant Association are food trucks and street food. Look for interesting and unusual desserts from Africa, South America and Asia.