1. Sustainable Food (Nose-to-Tail Cooking)
As discussion of climate change increases, it’s no surprise that sustainable food or “Nose-to-Tail” cooking is going mainstream in 2018. In recent months, the National Restaurant Association released a guide to help companies work toward meeting the national goal of cutting food waste in half by 2030.
2. Flowers in Food and Drinks
Ordinarily, we see flowers growing in gardens or vases as part of the décor. This year, flowers are blooming and might just be in your next cocktail. They aren’t just for garnishing anymore, but fully immersed into drinks with flavors such as rose, lavender and hibiscus.
It’s no secret that Americans love grabbing a cheeseburger and avoiding an apple, but with clean eating becoming mainstream, edible powders are coming to the forefront of food trends. Prominent choices are ground turmeric, matcha, cacao, and spirulina. Experts say we’ll start seeing them put into tea, nutrition bars, soups and baked goods.
4. Middle Eastern Cuisine
Middle Eastern cuisine has been heading west for years. Over the past few years, beloved dishes like hummus, lavash, and pita have become more accessible for the average person. This year, restaurants are starting to experiment with flavors like harissa — a spicy chili paste — with experts predicting it as the next sriracha in the restaurant business. Other trending ingredients include pomegranate, eggplant, mint, tahini and tomato jam.
5. Sparkling Beverages
The sparkling water trend isn’t leaving anytime soon. La Croix won our hearts in 2017 and introduced us to her close cousins, kombucha and cold brew. Staying healthy and finding low-calorie drinks is in high demand for health-conscious millennials. Hard seltzers also are becoming increasingly popular, allowing people to have a drink, relatively guilt-free.
6. Colorful Food
Instagram isn’t just filled with selfies and sunsets. The art of getting the perfect shot of your plate is a crucial skill for having an enviable Instagram account. As millennials shift their focus to social media for their influences, advertisers follow suit. The restaurant and food industry captured this valuable insight early on, and in 2018 we are getting lots of color. Starbucks was a renaissance in this trend, introducing the Unicorn drink in 2017. In 2018, the brighter the plate, the better the picture.
Some call them the “powerhouse of nutrition” and they aren’t lying. Low in calorie and fat and cholesterol-free, mushrooms have a moderate amount of fiber and over a dozen minerals and vitamins. Expect to see them roasted, braised, smoked, grilled and at trendy restaurants, and even mixed into tea.
Last year, Netflix flooded our feeds with plant-based documentaries and whether you practiced what you learned or tried abstaining for a day (and then ate a cheeseburger that night), the plant-based diet is here to stay. For the folks who stuck with it, you’re in luck! Plant-based is becoming more mainstream than ever, especially in the restaurant business. As millennials become more health conscious, the demand for vegetable-heavy entrees is on the rise!
9. Pea Milk
Following #8, people are buying dairy alternatives more than ever. The overall market is worth nearly $8 billion in sales, but it has one weakness in comparison to cow’s milk – protein. Luckily, two tech guys from the Bay Area thought of this and created Ripple Foods, the number one seller in pea milk. No, it’s not green, nor does it taste like peas. However, it does have the same amount of protein as regular milk (about 8 grams per cup) with fewer calories, less sugar and more calcium.
10. New Cuts of Meat
As seen in many of the trends we mentioned already, sustainability and staying healthy is on the mind of many people, but not everyone is cutting out meat completely. The National Restaurant Association predicted that new cuts of meat would be a mainstream trend in 2018. Some of the leading contenders are shoulder tender, oyster steak, Vegas strip steak and merlot cut. Part of this trend is influenced by the popularity of Nose-to-Tail cooking, which uses more parts of the animal as well as has overall more health-conscious eating. Retailers are starting to see the demand for transparency in labels when they buy meat and consumers are demanding more naturally grown animal products on their dinner plates.