Published on: January 11, 2012by Kate McMahon
Good-bye pie, kimchi and sliders. Hello Peruvian cuisine, pre-packaged “healthy” snacks, the power of mobile technology and anything potato.
That’s my quick take on the multitude of lists found on the internet touting the expected Top Food Trends for 2012. These predictions come courtesy of the James Beard Foundation, the Food Channel, allrecipes.com, Esquire, epicurious.com, the Institute of Food Technologists and dozens of media and online food sites eager to proclaim the next cupcake and more.
Among the macro-trends that I think are worth noting:
It’s all about mobile: The tech-savvy shopper comparing prices on a smartphone, scanning barcodes, downloading a recipe/grocery list and checking calorie counts and nutritional info on a tablet will soon become the norm, not the exception. Rather than sit back and watch this technology juggernaut go by, smart retailers will embrace opportunities to interact with their customers on line, through social networking and the smart phone in the palm of their hand. Innovations such as Quick Response (QR) codes and mobile coupons are the now, not the future.
(To be fair, there are those who feel that QR codes are a lot more interesting to marketers than shoppers, but it is early yet to draw that conclusion. I know that I’m fascinated by what they make possible, though I’m not sure if when I say so I am speaking with my pundit hat on or my mom/shopper hat.)
Farm-to-fork, continued: Also known as loca-vorism or farm-to-table, interest in locally-sourced products continues to be of importance to shoppers and restaurant patrons. Ditto products with the prefix artisanal, heirloom or sustainable. While not an option in many parts of the country, locally-sourced products can be a significant point of difference for a retailer in a competitive market.
Know your audience: There’s even a generational shift in health foods. Aging baby-boomers are seeking products with health “enhancements” such as glucosamine for joints and Omega-3 oils for sharpening the old memory. Younger consumers are demanding more gluten-free, nut-free products not solely because of allergies or food tolerance issues, but because they feel healthier on more of a “free” diet.
Snack attack, continued: Consider the explosion of the 100-calorie snack pack. As snacking has shed its negative image and is now recommended by nutritionists, health-conscious consumers want guilt-free, pre-packaged choices such as baby carrots, low-fat chips and salsa, fruit, yogurts, whole-grain and popcorn products.
You say potato: The lowly spud is making a comeback. Look for mashed potato bars and custom cut French Fries with dusts and dips at restaurants, and potatoes of all guises taking top billing on online menus and dinner tables.
And the next hot cuisine is: “Groovin’ on Peruvian” says The Food Channel. But several sites counter that pop-up food trucks featuring any number of ethnic and regional specialties are the new now. On the other hand, there is no reason that both cannot thrive in 2012 ... and maybe we’re looking at an outbreak of Peruvian food trucks!
And the new cupcake is: The French bakery treat called a caneles, “made from an egg-yolk enriched crepe-like batter that’s baked in copper molds lined with caramel and beeswax.”
As for me ... I’m thinking that for the moment, I’ll stick with the old cupcake and start downloading more recipes, calorie-counting and nutrition apps for my smartphone. Though if that Peruvian food truck comes to my town, I’m pretty sure I’ll be checking it out.
Comments? What’s the food trend that you are most looking forward to in 2012? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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