Alternative seafood, nuanced heat, and naturally occurring sweeteners, private dining clubs, Yaupon-infused beverages, produce packed pastas, repurposed pulp and climate-conscious are the callouts that are among the trends expected to rise in popularity in the next year.
Here are the 2023 food & beverage and foodservice trend and prediction reports unveiled by Baum +Whiteman Consultants, Specialty Food Association and Whole Foods Market.
Baum+Whiteman Consultants Predict Hottest Food and Beverage Trends In Restaurants and Hotels In 2023:
- Rise of ultra-expensive private dining clubs
- Pickup is the new delivery
- The wilting of plant-based food
- Mustard seeds are the new caviar
- Yes, you should dryage fish
- Mortadella makes a comeback
- Cabbage is the new kale
- Artificial intelligence will kill McJobs
SFA Trendspotters Name 2023 Specialty Food Trends
Alternative seafood, nuanced heat, and naturally occurring sweeteners are among next year’s specialty food trends, according to the Specialty Food Association’s Trendspotter Panel.
“Specialty food consumers are looking to make their meal prep easy but exciting and that is driving many of this year’s trends regarding convenience, packaging improvements, and global flavors,” said Denise Purcell, SFA’s vice president, resource development. “At the same time, they continue to care about how their food is grown and the health benefits it offers, giving rise to evolving sustainability, plant-based, and better-for-you trends.”
Professionals from diverse segments of the culinary world comprise the SFA’s Trendspotter Panel. They are Patsy Ramirez-Arroyo, food and sustainability consultant; Melanie Zanoza Bartelme, Mintel; Osei Blackett, Picky Eaters Restaurant, Ariapita and Chef Picky Events + Catering; Mikel Cirkus, Firmenich; Jenn de la Vega, Put A Egg On It; Jonathan Deutsch, Drexel University; Victoria Ho, SherpaCPG; Lindsay Leopold, food stylist; Stan Sagner, We Work for Food, LLC; Kantha Shelke, Corvus Blue LLC; V. Sheree Williams, The Global Food & Drink Initiative, Cuisine Noir.
The trends include:
Convenience is King
After honing their skills during stay-at-home mandates, many consumers have ambitions of continuing to cook, but collectively are tired. And people still want restaurant-quality food but without the price tag and the uncertainty associated with supply chain disruption and labor shortage.
“Brands will focus on helping consumers go simple in their preparation and cooking routines, and assure would-be cooks that taking shortcuts is nothing to be ashamed of,” said Bartelme.
“The coming year will pave the way for curated meal kits with specialty foods that one can make and serve at home without sacrificing authenticity, convenience, and taste,” said Shelke.
Similarly, specialty food companies are making it easier for those who want to cook from scratch by cross promoting with the appropriate cooking tools and recipes.
“Authors and media personalities are filling the education gap between ready-to-cook food kits and ready-to-eat. They’re helping create artisanal products plus video tutorials, and cookbooks to go along with it,” said de la Vega.
Environmentally Friendly Foods
If convenience is top, sustainability and environmental concerns is a close runner up.
“With growing unrest over climate issues and their impact on the future food supply, products that feature some aspect of sustainable ingredients, upcycled ingredients, or environment-friendly packaging, are leading the way,” said Deutsch.
Bold brand names, engaging visuals, and purpose-driven messaging are differentiating these products in several categories. Plant-based foods’ continuing growth plays a role here. Ingredients like mushrooms, seaweed, and jackfruit have been developed into different products and pasta’s pandemic-fueled comeback made room for more innovation with black rice, pumpkin, red lentils, lupini, and purple carrots. Expect to see more from visionary entrepreneurs engaging in regenerative agriculture who are creating seed-to-shelf future supply chains, funneling resources into the research and restoration of more localized, biodynamic food systems, carbon farming and indigenous farming practices, soil fertility, and seed diversity.
“The awareness of the meatless category is driving consumers to look for alternatives in seafood, too. Key to acceptance is aligning nutritional values, texture, and flavor to those of traditional fish,” said Ramirez-Arroyo.
New patents and technologies are populating the space, marine farming is rising as an option to traditional agriculture, and some specialty food brands are getting people to rethink seaweed and algae. As consumers are lured by more sustainable options, they are catching on to seafood alternatives.
Health in Balance
Consumers will seek more balance between their desire for health and sheer indulgence. Functional foods won’t suffer as a result: with interest in immunity, gut health, memory, and so many other health components, manufacturers are introducing functional ingredients into products anywhere they can. And “better-for-you snacks like dehydrated vegetables or mushroom chips continue to dominate,” said Leopold. Following stringent healthful routines can also be stressful and the past several years have jump started the need for joy. Look for overall well-being to take center stage, which includes making room for the desire to reward yourself for being so good.
Pantry Without Borders
A fresh crop of globally inspired condiments, sauces, oils, and seasonings will champion approachable everyday adventure. Increasingly clean-label and inherently convenient, these versatile meal starters and finishing touches invite consumers to experience regional comfort foods as new kitchen staples.
“Shared through the memory, influence, and multi-generational heritage of immigrants, this wave of texture and flavor offers complex, nuanced blends of herbs, spice, specialty chiles, fruit, rich nuts and seeds, and punches of umami,” said Ho. Think Sichuan fried chile crisp, West African shito sauce, Mexican salsa macha, Spanish romesco, Indian achaar, and Filipino adobo.
“From main dishes to condiments, in 2023 we will see a lot more international flavors,” said Blackett.
For 2023, the desire for boldness and intensity in flavor experiences will increase as people continue to kickstart their lives or pursue new paths.
“What began in the hot sauce category is exploding into honey, spreads, confections, beverages, and snacks, snagging new markets like younger consumers, especially, and inspiring specialty food companies to introduce heat and spice into existing product lines,” said Cirkus.
The flavors are more nuanced, far from the days of hot or not, with food companies using specific chiles to add flavor and heat across a wide spectrum of products, from cheese to chocolate to chips.
“Brands are testing new flavors and combinations, increasingly in the form of flakes or ‘blends’ and not just sauces, which brings a new application into the mix to be able to use a little or a lot,” said Williams.
Naturally Occurring Sweeteners
Real food ingredients that fulfill sweet cravings are pushing back against the health halo of natural sugar alternatives that undergo significant processing. Expect more dates in every shape and form, pure maple syrup, coconut sugar, fruit juices, and honey.
“Used across categories ranging from sparkling tonics to pasta sauce, to artisanal chocolate to classic bakery treats, natural sweeteners give brands a platform for differentiation as well as the appeal of a clean label,” said Ho.
Amid the tightening pressures of a global recession and a slowing economy, consumers want to elicit feelings of escapism without travel or exorbitant cost.
“Enter international fruits—alternative citrus, melons, and stone fruits wildly colorful and in extraordinary shapes and flavors—to invoke a sense of faraway destinations, new flavors, textures, colors, and possibilities,” said Cirkus.
Expect to see more as ingredients in beverages, sweets, snacks, and on their own.
Packaging for New Forms and Functions
Trendspotters at the Summer Fancy Food Show in June highlighted innovative packaging meant to provide increased portability and decreased mess. Look for that trend to continue with “a heightened emphasis on packaging design to communicate sustainability, introduce creative ways to consume and decant well-established consumer products, and telegraph aspirational consumer values and price point,” said Sagner.
- Foods from Africa. The diversity and complexity of the cuisines of Africa are becoming more accessible to the U.S. consumer, who are becoming fluent in fonio, gari, berbere, shito, and harissa.
- Cocktail culture. Ready-to-drink beverages like naturally flavored seltzers, and elevated, unique cocktail mixers are a continuing strong market for specialty food products.
- Cleaner, broader plant-based. Plant-based options continue to expand into all corners of the refrigerated and frozen dairy and protein sections.
Whole Foods Market’s Top 10 Food Trend Predictions For 2023:
New Brew: Yaupon
Yaupon is a holly bush found in the southeastern United States and happens to be North America’s only known native caffeinated plant.
Pulp with Purpose
Upcycling by-products like oat, soy and almond pulp, brands are creating new products for the modern baker like alternative flours, baking mixes and ready-to-eat sweets.
Produce Meets Pasta
Now there’s a new crop of plant-based pasta alternatives to help us all up our veggie and fruit intake, with ingredients like spaghetti squash, hearts of palm and even green bananas.
The Great Date
Dates the dehydrated fruit often referred to as “nature’s candy” is having a major renaissance as a sweetener in the form of pastes and syrups, and hidden in everything from ketchup to overnight oats.
A Poultry Revolution
Prioritizing welfare when shopping for both poultry and eggs. Global Animal Partnership (G.A.P.) is implementing a new initiative, The Better Chicken Project, to help improve the birds’ lives as well as the quality of the chicken we eat.
Help From Kelp
Kelp-inspired foods are gaining popularity, we’re seeing it in noodles, chips, fish-free “fish” sauce and beyond.
Climate consciousness is more relevant than ever, and as a result, brands are working to improve the impact of food and beverage production focusing on sustainability.
Retro products like Mac and cheese, pizza bites, classic old-school cereals are being reinvented with consideration for the wellness-conscious customer, creating the ultimate mash-up of throwback indulgences with better ingredients and special diets in mind.
Avocado Oil Craze
Avocado oil is finally going mainstream in packaged products across the board. Taking the place of other oils like canola and safflower oil in snacks, mayonnaise, ready-to-eat meals and more, avocado oil is sure to stick around.