2013 brought some prominent culinary trends, many of which seem to be here to stay. Health and environmental consciousness drove some of the biggest culinary trends of 2013. The National Restaurant Association predicts that many of these trends will stick around for 2014. As we move into the New Year, it is important for food businesses to reflect on food trends of 2013 and use them as a reference point to improve themselves.
Health-Related Food Trends 2013
This year saw a rise in consumer health concerns that effects food businesses. Healthy eating restaurants had an advantage over fast food chains, in drawing health-conscious customers looking to cut saturated fats, calories, cholesterol, and sodium, from their meals. As a response, fast food chains such as Burger King began offering healthier alternatives such as Burger King’s lower-fat fries. Other restaurants became slightly more like healthy eating restaurants by adapting dishes to better fit consumer health concerns. Restaurants with gluten free menus also experienced a customer-base expansion this year. Not only do restaurants with gluten free menus draw customers who are sensitive to gluten, they also draw regular customers looking for wheat free foods because they believe wheat free foods are better for their overall health. Customers and restaurants showed a concern for environmental health as well as diet health, in food trends of 2013.
Culinary Trends Go Green
The farm-to-table movement and the demand for sustainable food rose in 2013. As consumers become more aware of the detrimental effects of the farming industry, as it is run today, on the environment, they are starting to look for consolation in preferring local food. Local food saves transportation pollution, and is more and more frequently organic, eliminating the use of pesticides with harmful health and environmental consequences. Meanwhile, chefs are also realizing the added quality of raw ingredients that can be purchased through the farm-to-table movement. Fresher, higher quality produce can be found at local farms, since transportation time and physical impact from long transportation can damage produce. Sustainable produce and sustainable fish were two of the most popular categories of sustainable food trends in 2013. Other 2013 food trends focused on the artistic side of the culinary world, rather than on food’s scientific effects.
2013 saw a rise in culinary experimentation for chefs and customers. The tapas menu became a staple type of menu in almost every city. Customers appreciate the ability to try many small “tapas” dishes, rather than order one large dish, and, through the tapas menu, chefs are given the opportunity to experiment with new dishes. Unusual foods and unusual flavor combinations also took center-stage in 2013. Pairing savory and sweet became a culinary trend in desserts, while playing with spice and herb combinations from a fusion of cultures, boosted appetizers and main courses. Mini cupcakes, mini tarts, and other mini desserts raised the bar for food presentation, while catering to the customers demand for healthy eating restaurants by reducing dessert calories.
Overall, the 2014 food forecast shows promise of continuing many of the trends that were prominent in 2013, with an emphasis on environmental and biological health. In addition to continuing the 2013 trends, we can expect 2014 to unveil some unique culinary trends. Happy New Year!