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How do the Food Trend Experts Uncover The Future

Shopper frugality and health and wellness - 2 common threads in top food trends

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United Soybean Board Asian Chicken Edamame Pizza

Food Mashups are foods that don't seem to go together yet they work. United Soybean Board went into new product development and created an Asian Chicken Edamame Pizza.

United Soybean Board

I interviewed Joy Blakeslee and Steve Bryant of Publicis and the work their Nutrition Center did in creating the Top 12 Food Trends 2012 Insights report.

I asked Steve and Joy how they come up with expected food & beverages trends. We all read about future trends but how does this all work?

Steve said "We work in the area of what's next. We have a great big hopper for all of this data. We have 36 people who service the food & beverage sector. We go to trade shows and read lots of 3rd party reports." Joy is a Registered Dietician and says "we have a big network of chef contacts and food influencers. We look at the economy, many USDA reports and attend nutritional focused conferences."

Publicis screens the many trends they see during the course of the year and narrow their list down to trends that are at the "breakthrough stage. What does this mean I wondered? According to Joy and Steve "…breakthrough trends are that are breaking through with foodies. We see trends start in the foodservice sector and then trickle through to supermarkets. A good example is menu labeling. It has been around for a while and most recently is getting attention".

The Publicis food trends for 2012 research unveiled a common thread throughout which was health and wellness… not surprising given the focus on obesity trends in the US. The growing awareness of Gluten Intolerance is driving a 30% growth rate in the Gluten Free Market.

2012 Food & Beverage Trends

Global Food Mashups

Millenials (Generation Y) are driving Global Food Mashups since they are super connected via Facebook and Twitter.

So what does a Global Food Mashup look like? The Culinary Institute of America runs the annual Culinary Institute of America - World of Flavors Event, bringing together a disparate variety of foods from around the world. According to the The Culinary Institute of America, "the annual three-day forum is widely acknowledged as our country's most influential professional forum on world cuisines, food cultures, and flavor trends"

Joy said "The CIA event was populated with many food trucks and street food fare. We saw a great example, Japadog. JappaDog's are hotdogs with various Japanese toppings that appeal mostly millennials (Gen Y). Millenials are short on cash and employment and like to explore world food trends, such as those from the Asian markets, which are affordable. Gen Y can't afford to travel but food is a way to travel vicariously through food."

So what I learned from Joy and Steve is this: Food Mashups are best described as "Things that don't seem to fit… but work"!

Popcorn Trend

You might say that popcorn is too mundane to be a breakthrough trend. The media focuses on technology products with descriptors such as breakthrough trends, Innovators, disruptive products, Early Adopters, etc yet the same applies to the food & beverage sector.

There is upsurge in whole grain trends and popcorn is whole grain. Pop Corn is also one of those foods with a short ingredient list that we all can understand. It is a simple food that works as a healthy snack that fits into the consumer's longer work days and addresses the affordability and frugality issues most consumers are dealing with. It also fits into the nascent trend of personalized and customized foods… popcorn is a blank slate that one can add most any flavoring and season.

I read all 12 trends but the ones with the most sizzle - The Connected Table and Perpetual Snacking. I needed to explore these further with Joy and Steve so let's take a deeper dive into these exciting and game changing food & beverage trends.

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