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Five Food Trends for 2012 and Beyond

Food TruckOn the food front, Americans may be finally accepting that we are what we eat and start walking the walk. Even our new taste for Nordic cuisine is fueled, perhaps, by images of the lean, robust, and outdoorsy. But what other things are trending on the food front for 2012–13?

With Denmark’s recent “fat tax” imposed on high-fat food products and the U.K. contemplating a similar fine on all things fatty, look for more governments to follow suit and smack down on our expanding waistlines. Which brings the bigger trend into our (extra-large) mirror: Fat phobia will run rampant next year. People are freaking out about being fat. And countries such as France, a traditionally “fat-free” zone, are experiencing a rise in obesity. Nearly 14% of French adults are now obese, up from 8% 10 years ago, and a French dependence on fast food might be to blame. As fat phobia takes over the globe, look for big names such as Pepsi to get in on the act by offering more mindful items.

Speaking of mindful, the healthy snack category will be healthy not only in its offerings but also in sales. U.S. retail sales of packaged snacks increased to about $64 billion in 2010, according to Packaged Facts’ “Snack Foods in the U.S., 4th Edition” report. By 2015, packaged snack sales are slated to approach $77 billion. Look for packaged baby carrots, low-fat chips and salsa, or hummus to be huge for those looking to slim down.

Regardless of what choices you make, the flavor story for 2012–13 will include fervor for Southern cuisine, perhaps as a counterpoint to all the health food. According to the 2012 Zagat guide, Southern food is hot (literally). Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s Harlem eatery Red Rooster is wooing celebrities with okra, smothered pork chops, and fried green tomatoes. You just wait and see: Down-home cooking will trend high.

Foodies are also buzzing about flavors such as pickled and peppered treats. The zingy flavors of ginger and chilis will penetrate not only our sinuses but also our palates; you can thank our current obsession with Korean food for this spicy development. Korean tacos and kimchi are all the rage and gained huge popularity on the food truck scene in Los Angeles, and now beyond. Michelin recently awarded its first star to a Korean restaurant Manhattan’s Danji, and more Korean restaurants will open in urban areas to appeal to those looking to spice up their meals.

The continued mobile, pop-up and food truck obsession will continue to redefine how we eat. A recent survey by the National Restaurant Association showed that 59% of consumers said they would likely visit a food truck if their favorite restaurant offered one. That’s up from 47% a year ago. Look for big brands/chains to hit the highway as this superhot trend keeps them queuing up in 2012–13. If you feel as if the food truck trend might be more fad than anything else, think of it in broader strokes: Food truck culture speaks to our need for yummy fare that’s innovative, culturally collaborative (food truck food is often fusion), and  moderately priced, as well as our continued interest in nontraditional retail offerings.

Marian Salzman
CEO, Euro RSCG Worldwide PR
The Big Little Book of Nexts: Trendspotting for 2012 (pdf)

One Response

  1. […] Marian Salzman has a few thoughts of her own about what’s in store in the new year. Writing for the Institute of Food […]

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