Meeting Mentor Magazine

January 2018

Are You Ready for Vegan Sushi?

It’s that time of year again, when food and restaurant companies and consultants release their annual lists predicting the hottest food and beverage trends in the year ahead. Here’s a look at predictions from four major players in the food and restaurant industry.

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According to restaurant consultancy Andrew Freeman & Co., next year will bring more high-end, no-alcohol drinks, such as house-made sodas and fresh juices, often touting health benefits. Nostalgic foods — such as chicken nuggets, Tater Tots, “upscale” meatloaf and deviled eggs — will be making a comeback. And contemporary, regional Mexican and Chinese dishes will take center stage as chefs take deeper dives into these cuisines by focusing on regional specialties.

Food and restaurant consultants Baum+Whiteman point to these big trends for the year ahead:

Plant-based foods go mainstream: According to market research firm Mintel, there has been a 25 percent increase in vegetarian dishes between 2012 and 2016 among the country’s restaurateurs. As more restaurants offer options like vegan cheese pizzas and more meatless entrées, expect to see them on your F&B menu. 


Three next-wave cuisines from unexpected destinations: From the Philippines, expect to see more dishes like lumpia, sisig and kare-kare. Indian food offerings will move beyond the standard curry toward options like tandoori chicken poutine, spicy lamb burritos or chicken masala pizza. Upscale Korean fare is also on the rise, incorporating fermented food, umami and lots of spice into complex dishes.

Liquored-up desserts: Part alcoholic beverage, part frozen dessert, these new concoctions include red wine slushies and alcohol-infused ice cream in flavors like strawberries and champagne.

Here’s a partial list of trends ahead from Whole Foods Market:

High-tech goes plant-forward: Plant-based diets and dishes continue to dominate the food world, and now the tech industry has a seat at the table, too. By using science to advance recipes and manipulate plant-based ingredients and proteins, new techniques are creating mind-bending alternatives like “bleeding” vegan burgers or sushi-grade “not-tuna” made from tomatoes.

Super powders take off: Powders have found their way into lattés, smoothies, nutrition bars, soups and baked goods. Examples include matcha, maca root, cacao, ground turmeric, spirulina, kale, herbs and protein powders.

Middle East cuisines gain popularity: Regional nuances and classic ingredients of Middle Eastern cultures like Persian, Israeli, Moroccan, Syrian and Lebanese are rising to the top.

Transparency 2.0: Consumers want to know the story behind their food and how each item made its way from the source to the store/table/banquet. GMO (genetically modified organism) transparency is top-of-mind, but people seek out other details, such as fair trade certification, responsible production and animal welfare standards.

Innova Market Insights top 10 trends for 2018 include the following:

Lighter enjoyment: People continue to look for ways to eat and drink more healthily. Lightness in terms of alcohol content, sweetness, flavor, texture or even portion size is increasing its appeal.

Beyond the coffeehouse: Coffee and tea are increasingly being used as ingredients and flavors across a wide variety of products outside the hot and iced drink subcategories.

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Colorful dishes: “Instagrammable” food is becoming more vital to millennials, so the time for foods in vibrant colors has arrived. 

Ocean garden: Nutrient-dense vegetables from the sea, like kelp and spirulina are finding their way into a wider variety of new foods and beverage products due to their ability to provide added nutrition and deliver unique flavors. — Regina McGee

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