It's already February 2011 and without any other delay, I make my culinary predictions for the year.
This is what I foresee for 2011 based on the shows I go, the food I buy and eat and also what the experts of the industry believe. I don't agree with all the predictions (someone said that vegetables will be the new meat, something I personally find insane), but I respect everybody's opinion. Here is my personal list:
1. Use your kitchen. Although consumers in big cities have been avoiding cooking at home due to their tiny kitchen (see New York for example), stats and social behavior of shoppers indicate that consumers have started to cook more often at home. Not always the traditional way. Salads in a bag, healthy, ready-to-prepare meals, and easy to cook items are selling like crazy. In addition, books like Gourmet Meals in Crappy Little Kitchens pushed this "movement" giving an easier and more fun perspective to the concept of cooking at home.
2. Gluten-free based products as breads, chips, cookies and more. Not only for those who suffer from allergies or the celiac disease but for all of us who do not wish to eat wheat and white flour made pastries, breads or snacks. Not always the tastier but equally addictive, those foods are gaining in popularity to an increasingly growing gluten free market. Try Udi's for example. Their products taste great!
3. Seed and grain based snacks. We saw this in the last Fancy Food Show but the trend is getting even stronger. From Beanitos chips (made from beans) to the Mediterranean Lentil Chips, those snacks are here to stay. Made from lentils, beans or sunflower seeds are healthier than the mainstream and most of the time are gluten-free.
4. Small luxuries. In the beginning, it was Starbucks (pay $4 for a cup of coffee?). Then, it came the truffled popcorn (spending nearly $5 for a bag of popcorn?). But everybody can afford those small luxuries as a gourmet bag of mix nuts, savory chips or a $8 artisanal chocolate bar. Those items are luxurious and tasty so who cares if you can't afford Per Se?
5. Raw Fish. I saw it during the last New York Wine and Food Festival where sashimi and ceviche were signature dishes of major restaurants and chefs. I predict that this trend will continue and I am so glad because I love raw fish.
6. Savory, spicy and sophisticated flavors. The Umami 5 became paste in a tube. Harissa is sold in mainstream US supermarkets and Indian Tikka Masala is becoming more popular. It doesn't matter if you like them or not, those flavors for grown-ups won't go away any time soon.
7. Brown rice. Not only as an alternative for the gluten free diets but also as a byproduct - for example brown rice syrup to make candy, cookies and also drinks.
Expect to see also the following products more regularly:
Infused oils (with spices, lemon etc)
Gourmet buns (for lobster rolls, burgers etc)
Artisanal chocolates and candy
Local produce (meat, veggies, dairy etc)
Super foods (goji, açaí)