Predictions for the Coming Year: Food, Part 1

For over a dozen years, McCormick & Company has annually released its McCormick® Flavor Forecast®. The Forecast is created by McCormick food experts from around the world and it “highlights five top food trends and more than a dozen emerging flavors predicted to impact the way we eat in the coming years.” ["McCormick Announces Top Flavors and Food Trends for 2014 and Beyond," Press Release, 3 December 2013] This coming year, McCormick is celebrating “its 125th year as a food industry innovator.” The article notes, “This anniversary edition [of the Flavor Forecast] explores how today’s unparalleled connectivity is driving faster-than-ever adoption of new trends and tastes around the globe. One such trend is the growing obsession with chilies.” McCormick Executive Chef, Kevan Vetter, stated, “Everywhere we looked, people have a growing fascination with the delicious range of flavors and heat chile peppers deliver. In the U.S., cooks are embracing exciting new varieties like the aji amarillo from Peru, which is prized for its sizzling heat and surprisingly full-bodied, fruity notes.”

As a side note, you might have noticed that the McCormick press release used the word “chile” instead of “chili.” Back in 2000, Paul Bosland, director of the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University, explained that he had “been trying for years to get everyone to spell chile — the hot peppers or the plant from which the peppers come — with an ‘e.’ He says chili — the spicy dish of meat and sometimes beans — should be spelled with an ‘i’. A lot of people argue about it.” ["Chili or Chile? Dispute Never Seems to Cool Off," Los Angeles Times, 19 November 2000] The article continued:

“The professor reasons that when people ask for the powdered pod, they get chile powder. If they want a bowl of chili, they get a chili powder — a packet of dried spices, including garlic and chile. The word chile originated from the Aztec word “chil,” meaning pepper. Bosland said the Spanish added an ‘e’ to the end of the word to make it a noun in their language.”

Now that we’ve cleared up that issue, let’s discuss the “emerging trends and flavors highlighted in the McCormick Flavor Forecast 2014.” The Top Five Trends include:

  1. Chilies Obsession: Food lovers everywhere are seeking out their next big chile thrill.
  2. Modern Masala: Indian food is finally having its moment, breaking free of its traditional confines with modern interpretations.
  3. Clever Compact Cooking: Proving that big flavors can come from small spaces, cooks in urban kitchens are making the most of what’s available.
  4. Mexican World Tour: Mexican flavors are making their way around the globe, with people everywhere discovering new aspects of this bright, casual cuisine.
  5. Charmed by Brazil: The world’s attraction to Brazilian cuisine is heating up, thanks to its seductive mix of global and native influences.

The Top Five Flavors for 2014 identified by McCormick include:

  1. Aji Amarillo: A hot Peruvian yellow chile with bold, fruity flavor.
  2. Kashmiri Masala: An often homemade blend of spices from northern India featuring cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, cloves and ginger.
  3. Tea: Not just for sipping anymore, this natural ingredient is making its way into rubs, broths and marinades.
  4. Chamoy Sauce: A unique Mexican condiment — made from apricot, lime, chilies and spices — just beginning to gain a following in the U.S.
  5. Cassava Flour: Also known as manioc or tapioca flour, this gluten-free alternative is a Brazilian staple prized for its versatility.
Trendscape clear
Source: CCBI Culinary TrendScape

McCormick’s Flavor Forecast is being joined by a forecast from another food giant, Campbell’s, whose chefs have compiled its “first-ever CCBI Culinary TrendScape report.” The TrendScape report breaks trends into six categories: Discovery, Introduction, Adoption, Mainstream, Established, and Expanded. Consumer Goods Technology briefly describes the two new trends Campbell’s identifies in the Discovery category. ["Campbell's Releases Top 10 Food Trends for 2014," CGT, 4 December 2013] They are:

  1. Brazilian Cuisine – Rio de Janeiro will bring the country’s seafood stews, grilling techniques and local ingredients into the culinary spotlight when it hosts the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics.
  2. Food Waste Awareness – Root-to-leaf cooking, repurposing leftovers and composting food scraps at home are all gaining traction with consumers.

Since both McCormick and Campbell’s highlight Brazilian cuisine as a coming trend, the sports spotlight that continues to shine on Brazil is obviously having an effect in the area of food and flavors as well. To read more about the importance of food waste awareness, read my post entitled Preventing and Mitigating Food Waste. Campbell’s also identifies two trends in the Introduction category. They are:

  1. Fermentation – The appeal of enzyme-enhanced foods, a growing appetite for tart and intense flavors, and chefs’ interest in the chemistry behind umami flavors all converge in this powerful culinary movement.
  2. New Jewish Deli – While next-generation delis are firmly rooted in tradition, modern twists like vegetarian options, sustainably-sourced ingredients and even Jewish-Asian Global Fusion are the freshest ideas to hit this revived deli scene.

If you are unfamiliar with the term “umami,” read my post entitled The Taste of Umami. As for the New Jewish Deli trend, Larissa Faw believes that “kosher” foods of all kinds may be one of the next big trends. She concludes, “Whether kosher becomes the next big food trend may simply come down to competition. There are only so many trends that the food industry can embrace.” ["Is Kosher the Next Big Food Trend?, Forbes, 2 December 2013] Continuing with Campbell’s TrendScape, it identifies three trends in the Adoption category. CGT describes them this way:

  1. Fresh Juices – Craving better-for-you balance through “juicing”, the health-conscious are “going green” to refresh and recharge.
  2. Sophisticated Sweets – Spices, botanicals and fresh takes on fruit are hitting the dessert scene.
  3. Yogurt Goes Savory – Greek-style yogurt is showing up in savory, non-spoonable applications like condiments, baked goods and snacks.

In the Mainstream category, Campbell’s identifies two trends. The first trend has to do with beverage-inspired flavors and the second trend, which agrees with the McCormick Forecast, deals with Mexican cuisine.

  1. Beverage-Inspired Flavors – The bar has inspired the kitchen, and barrel-aged, bottled and brewed flavors have moved beyond public house glasses into everything from hot sauces to barbecue. [CGT]
  2. Regional Mexican – Mexico’s regional culinary traditions continue to inspire. … Mexican torta and mollete sandwiches have stayed under the radar for far too long.

Like the McCormick report, Campbell’s chefs also recognize the growing importance of chiles. The report states that there is an endless variety of “chile peppers worth exploring, which offer both flavor and heat in the kitchen.” In the Established category, Campbell’s identifies a single trend having to do with hamburgers. CGT describes it this way:

  1. Bolder Burgers – America’s iconic sandwich is changing with the times, with new buns, unique burger patty options like chicken, lamb, elk and brisket and a range of toppings — all redefining what a burger is.

The TrendScape report contains a lot of interesting and useful information beyond identifying trends and I recommend downloading it. In Part 2 of this series, I’ll look at twenty additional predictions in the food and drink sector. The first ten predictions are provided by Phil Lempert, the self-entitled Supermarket Guru, and the second ten are offered by Innova.

Follow me on Twitter