A research leader on trends in the food industry, Sterling-Rice Group has identified its annual top ten culinary trends that stand out on menus, expand onto grocery shelves, and attract consumer interest across the U.S. in the year ahead.
SRG’s 2016 Cutting-Edge Culinary Trends were compiled by SRG’s Culinary Team led by Culinary Director Kara Nielsen and feature examples of trailblazing food and drink trends and the brands leading the way for each of them. An extension of Culinary Shifts™, SRG’s proprietary research based on key societal shifts affecting consumer behavior around food, the predictions provide insight for food industry companies to better develop, position, market, and sell food products.
“Cooks and diners continue to explore and relish all that’s new in food, which is often not new at all, but rather a rediscovered ingredient, drink, or dish,” says Kara Nielsen, SRG Culinary Director. “Yet these foods have been refashioned with a contemporary palate in mind, a palate that is appreciative of unusual textures, vivid sour flavors, and more savory balance. Marketers shouldn’t be afraid to push the boundaries when innovating food and beverages.”
Look for these cutting-edge culinary trends to expand in 2016:
- Switchin’ to Switchels: Boasting health benefits of apple cider vinegar and ginger— and sweetened with honey, maple, or molasses—look for this colonial refresher to quench consumers’ thirst in the year ahead.
- ‘Onolicious Hawaiian: From fast-casual to fine dining, traditional and ‘ono (delicious) island ingredients are showing up in cool new dishes like poké bowls and musubi across the mainland.
- Oysters to the Rescue: With sustainable seafood as important as ever, cultivated oysters are fueling an exciting resurgence of oyster bars. Expect the burgeoning Millennial taste for oysters to grow in 2016 and years to come.
- The Savory Side of Yogurt: With all the health benefits of yogurt, less sugar, and a rich, savory taste, labneh is stepping into the spotlight. The thick, salted Middle Eastern yogurt-cheese plays well with olive oil, spices and seeds, vegetables, and even fruit.
- Coffee’s New Guises: From coffee mocktails and sodas to dry-hopped coffee on nitro tap and coffee cherry brews, there’s no end to the creative coffee libations coming our way from inventive baristas and beverage makers.
- Swiggable Soups: With less sugar and more fiber than pressed juices, health aficionados are packing in the nutrients—and flavor—with convenient bottled soups.
- Pumped-Up Porridge: As porridge is made with an ever-widening selection of grains—rye, spelt, black rice or quinoa, to name a few—combined with sweet and mostly savory toppings, consumers will seek this classic as a satisfying main or hearty side.
- Intensified Dessert: From dessert menus to the candy aisle, sweet treats get a flavor boost with the addition of savory ingredients—think corn-husk ash, malt, and umami-rich miso paste—and au courant cooking techniques.
- Pass the Platter: Restaurant chefs have fun and promote more convivial sharing with family-style meals complete with a centerpiece protein—whole fish or chickens, piles of ribs—and accompanying sides.
- Mail-Order Meal Mania: Meal-kit delivery services will continue to explode in 2016 as the big players expand nationally and smaller start-ups tap niche cuisines and dietary trends.