5 Food and Drink Trends for 2018
A growing number of culinary and nutrition experts are weighing in with predictions about what will be the hottest food trends in 2018. In fact, outfits like the Specialty Food Association, a group made up of food artisans, importers and entrepreneurs, make a habit of releasing reports at the end of each year projecting which eats will rise to superfood status in 2018.
As it turns out, there’s a fair amount of overlap between my predictions and theirs. And since it’s fun to ponder what will fill our bellies in 2018, here are my top 5 food trends for the coming year:
- Pre- and probiotics. If you’re digestively challenged, chances are good you’ve already heard about probiotics. These so-called “good bacteria” are found in yogurt, kefir and fermented foods like kimchi. They help crowd out bad bacteria in the gut. But while probiotics have received a fair amount of airtime in recent years, prebiotics (non-digestible, fiber-rich plant foods that feed probiotics), have mostly hovered under the radar. But the hottest foods for 2018 will move past yogurt as a probiotic and wheat flour as a prebiotic into probiotics in fermented food such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and kefir and prebiotics such as garlic and onions.
- Innovative H20. Traditional soda has few redeeming qualities – the calories and sugar make it junk food – and Americans are hunting down healthier alternatives. To that end, manufacturers have come up with some tasty solutions to amp up plain old water. More sparkling waters, teas and even coffees are hitting store shelves.
- Floral flavors. Floral flavors are heating up with everything from lavender tea to elderflower granola. Adding these elements to foods not only boosts the flavor profile, but it may also impart disease-fighting chemicals called antioxidants. Look for fragrant florals in beverages like flavored waters and sophisticated cocktails. The most noteworthy: lavender, hibiscus, rose and elderflower.
- Plant-based protein. More and more people are leaning toward a plant-based diet for its health and wellness perks. Thankfully, food manufacturers and chefs are increasingly happy to offer innovative options. From tofu and tempeh to ancient grains like quinoa, we’ll see an uptick in plant-based food products both in grocery stores and at popular restaurants.
- Airy snack foods. Popcorn used to be the airy snack of choice, but today there are more puffed veggie snack foods on the market than ever before. From kale chips to root veggie puffs to snap pea crisps, airy snacks are all the rage. The rub: You need to look carefully at labels to find the healthy ones. Most products mostly consist of corn, soybean oil and some salt and very little, if any, vegetables.
Don’t kiss your favorite food trends from 2017 goodbye just yet though! Many will stick around in the new year, including bowl meals (poke or sushi bowls, we’re looking at you!), alternative grains and hot spices like turmeric. Others, like agave and coconut (in everything!) may be on their way out.