2018 Food Trends

Originally Published: January 1, 2018
Last Updated: February 11, 2021

Global Food Forums, Inc. compiled the following list of top trends lists for 2018.

2018 Top Trends list contributors include CB Insights, CCD Innovation, International Food Information Council Foundation, Natural Grocers, Campbell’s, Comax Flavors, McCormick, Food Processing magazine, Sterling Rice Group, Innova Market Insights, Packaged Facts, Whole Foods Market and Mintel, among others.

Also see other Top Food Trends Lists

13 Emerging Investor-backed Ingredients 2018 – Source: CB Insights Posted October 31, 2017

This company looks at startups that have raised funding since 2016 to identify trending ingredients. Click on CB Insights link for further explanation.

1. Probiotics: Food incumbents are leveraging the probiotics trend by forming relationships with startups.

2. Pea Protein: Pea protein showing up in protein supplement startups.

3. Seaweed: Startups are using seaweed, algae, and spirulina (a type of algae high in protein, amino acids, vitamin B, and iron) in a variety of plant-based products.

4. Ginger: Many recently funded startups use ginger to add spice and increase health benefits.

5. Turmeric: Many startups have added turmeric to bone broth, coffee blends, and more. 

6. Matcha and Yerba Mate: Many beverage startups now offer ready-to-drink matcha lattes, including REBBL.

7. Oats and Barley: Startups are aiming to reinvent oatmeal and use oats in unexpected ways.

8. Chia: Startups are using chia seeds to add texture to yogurts and sauces, as well as to add protein to bars.

9. Mushroom protein: Startups are integrating reishi and other mushrooms into coffees, vanilla protein powders, and drinkable meals.

10. Chickpeas: Pulses (a category that includes beans, peas, chickpeas, and lentils) have become a valued source of plant protein for the food industry.

11. Niche Trends: Moringa, Maca, Monkfruit, and Moringa.

2018 Food Trends That Matter

Source:CCD Innovation Posted December 11, 2017

These nine trends reflect 2018’s core food values grouped into three areas—Culinary Culture, The Source and Nutrition. In each area, trends are mapped by maturity, ranging from those appearing on the horizon to others closer in view.

  1. 1. Culinary Culture – Connecting to kitchen arts and practices here, there, everywhere • Cannabis Cuisine – Ready or not, modern and artisan THC- and CBD-enhanced cuisine goes beyond brownies in 2018 thanks to “potrepreneurs” at all levels. • Inspired Mexican Menus – Mexican-American and Mexican chefs alike are creating stunning and unique dishes inspired by tradition, local ingredients and personal visions. • Asian Treats & Sweets – Beloved dumplings and sweets like black sesame ice cream and pandan-scented desserts proliferate to delight modern palates.  
  2. 2. The Source – Where food is from, how it’s grown or produced • Biodynamically Grown – Beyond-organically grown ingredients emerge in plain sight and raise wine, cereal, tea and kids’ food to higher levels of earth-focused sustainability. • Ever Expanding Grains – Traditional, heritage and new varieties of grains are being cultivated with purpose, expanding choices, applications and flavor in baked goods, beer and plant milks. • Chicken Conundrum – Poultry-production questions and new raw bird choices puzzle diners also tempted with a plethora of delectable chicken dishes on the menu.  
  3. 3. Nutrition – Nutritive benefits for functional, dietary, medicinal and well-being needs • Amazing Algae – Food innovation abounds with all kinds of algae, a sustainable ingredient packed with nutrients and now being turned into everything from butter to “shrimp.” • Brain Fuel – To keep up with Big Data, robots and the 24/7 news cycle, consumers seek out potent energy sources to power their brains. • Alt-Sweet – Sugar is top of mind, whether added, natural or artificial; sweet alternatives include dates, monk fruit and new styles of stevia.

Major U.S. Food and Nutrition Trends to Watch in 2018

Source: International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC) Posted January 3, 2018

Waste Not, Want Not: “…About 40 percent of food produced for our consumption never reaches a human stomach….Growing awareness and concern about sustainability in general and the impacts of food waste in particular — environmental, economic, humanitarian — are indicative of broader interest in food values.“

● “Boom” Goes the Internet: Virtual Shopping Is an Increasing Reality. If you thought a lot of food was being purchased via the internet and apps already, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

Hanging Around the Block(chain): “Blockchain” is an emerging buzzword in the digital realm. As we wrote last month, blockchain will help give consumers unprecedented information about where their food comes from.

Nutrigenomics-The Impacts of Food at the Molecular Level: Nutrigenomics, broadly speaking, studies how our diets influence our genes. A growing body of evidence and scientific interest in the field have put us on the brink of revolutionary advances in personalized nutrition.

Flavor Savorers Take a Walk on the Wild Side: Taste has been the top driver of Americans’ food purchases for the entire history of the IFIC Foundation’s annual Food and Health Survey

Less Is More: Clean Labels and Clean Packaging: While the clean label movement will reach new heights, the food system will continue to grapple with exactly what the term means and how it will affect claims being made about foods.

Natural Grocers’ Breakout Nutrition and Health Trends 2018

Source: Natural Grocers Posted December 5, 2017

Natural Grocers’ manager of scientific affairs and nutrition education, Jon Clinthorne, PhD, breaks down why you’ll see these trends gain ground in the New Year. Click on Natural Grocer link above for more explanation.
• Collagen is in. – The popularity and selection of nutrient-dense and “superfood” collagen has exploded over the past year, and for good reason. Collagen supplements are rich sources of two amino acids that are important for health, but not typically found in high concentrations in modern diets.

• Everyday detox diets. – Instead of trying unhealthy fasts and juice diets for detoxification, consumers are more interested in what foods they can eat that will help facilitate the body’s natural detox processes.

• Organic is the way to go. – …Consumers are still confused about which is better—the USDA Organic label or the Non-GMO Project Verified label. But hands down, the USDA Organic label wins.

• Pasture-raised is raising the bar. – Healthy land management begins with properly managing the animals on that land. Rotating animals through pasturelands can dramatically improve the health of the soil, trapping carbon dioxide in the soil (where it belongs), helping with water retention and reducing erosion.

• Black seed oil. – Black seed oil…is very popular in various traditional systems of medicine, like Ayurveda. The seed and its oil have a surprising amount of research showing their effectiveness in various health conditions.

• Keto diets. – “Keto” [ketogenic] diets are making their mark on the nutrition world. … there’s another type of fuel [beyond glucose and fatty acids] made from fatty acids, known as ketones—which are especially important for neuroprotection and also have been shown to support brain function and cognition.

• Traditional medicine meets modern science. – …Modern research is exploring the use of essential oils and aromatherapy for relaxation and other aspects of mental health.

• Drinking vinegars. – …Drinking vinegars are a trendy new alternative to sugar-laden sodas and juices. A study published in the Diabetes Care journal demonstrated that consuming vinegar at bedtime can actually support healthy blood sugar levels when you wake up…

• Sneaking in vegetables. – The trendy solution [to eating more vegetables]… Sneaking antioxidant-rich vegetables into your food whenever possible. Swap out typical noodles for organic veggie noodles, snack on real veggie chips and add frozen cauliflower or greens powders to your smoothies.

• Botanicals to boost brain function. – Botanicals, such as epigallocatechin from green tea for boosting brain function, are gaining more appreciation. Look for formulas containing ashwaganda, lions mane, reishi, gotu kola, turmeric and holy basil in order to capitalize on the latest research.

Campbell’s Six Food Trends to Watch in 2018

Source: Campbell’s Culinary & Baking Institute, Posted on Gourmet Retailer.com December 12, 2017

This from the “Trendscape Report for Top 6 Food Trends to Watch in 2018.” The list is ranked from early stage discovery to mainstream.

1. Culinary Heritage (Discovery)
Move over “authentic” and “ethnic.” The new culinary buzz is “heritage,” highlighting people who bring culinary traditions to life and the personal stories that define our food.

2. Feel Good Treats (Introduction)
Nutrient-dense indulgences are driving the “healthy-ish” treats trend with the next gen snacks that include fortified ice creams, vegetable desserts, mood-enhancing ingredients, protein-packed chips, fresh produce snacks and more.

3. Meat Matters (Adoption)
Meatless Mondays and plant-based diets may be grabbing the news headlines, but there is still strong interest in all things carnivore, from unique butcher cuts to antibiotic-free meats to exotic game.

4. Botanical Beats (Adoption)
Ginger, honey, hibiscus, lavender, elderflower, mint, cardamom and chamomile are just a few of the value-adding herbs and spices bringing grown-up flavors and plant-based profiles to today’s most sophisticated sips and snacks.

5. Alternatives Rule (Mainstream)
From lab-cultured burgers and cricket flour to dairy “milks” to ancient grains, this rising megatrend is just as much about today’s culinary tastes as it is about the food of the future.

6. Limited Edition Innovation (Mainstream)
Playful twists on classic products, retro re-releases and seasonal themes are feeding a growing apetite for exclusive flavor experiences and meaningful, Insta-friendly moments with food.

McCormick® Flavor Forecast® 2018 Source:McCormick December 2017

Handheld Flavor Fusion: Take to the streets for the latest fusing of global cuisines. Carts, trucks and food halls are merging high-flavor fillings with unique crepes, buns and breads for loaded street fare you eat with your hands.

Globetrot with Hot Pot: Throw an Asian hot pot party and leave the cooking to your guests. Gather friends around a steamy pot of deeply flavored broth. Offer meat, seafood and veggies for dunking, then finish with various toppings for a new DIY meal. This East Asian favorite can be easily changed up to go Mexican, Caribbean and more.

Drink to Your Wellness: Wellness never tasted so good. Breakfast boosts, snacking soups and end-of-day sips feature robust flavors and uplifting ingredients like cucumber, dandelion greens, ginger, turmeric and cayenne pepper. Awaken, stay energized, rebalance and above all, enjoy.

Japanese Izakaya Eats: Sushi isn’t the only bite-sized food Japan has to offer. Izakayas—Japanese gastropubs—serve up casual tasting plates, similar to Spanish tapas. Featuring bold glazes, tangy sauces and seaweed seasonings, these dishes are an explosion of flavor.

A Bite of East Africa: East African cuisine is a treasure trove of flavor. The signature seasonings, BBQ marinades, and sauces of Tanzania and Ethiopia are being explored across the globe. Ethiopia’s most popular seasoning—berbere—contains an array of spices like paprika, allspice, coriander, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, and red pepper.

Comax Flavors 2018 Flavor Trends Source: Comax Flavors Posted November 28, 2017

Using consumer trends as a base, Comax Flavors’ 2018 Flavor Trends have been divided into four unique flavor collections. Click here for a more detailed explanation.

Not Milking It – is a collection of indulgent flavors formulated for plant-based dairy alternatives. According to Innova Market Insights, the global market for dairy alternative drinks is expected to reach U.S. $16.3 billion in 2018. In addition, product launches worldwide featuring plant-based claims rose 63% between 2011 and 2015. Flavors in this group include: Salted Caramel S’mores made for Cashew Milk, Sweet Potato Maple Cinnamon made for Almond Milk, Turmeric Golden Milk made for Coconut Milk

Rest Assured – addresses the infinite search for relaxing and comforting flavors to encourage sleep. According to J. Walter Thompson’s Well Economy report, of 1,000 U.S. respondents surveyed, “58% think of sleep quality when asked about their health.” Flavors in this group include: Cherry Chamomile, Honey Lavender, Warm Milk

Think Pink - capitalizes on the younger demographics’ affinity for instagramable and colorful, pink foods and flavors. “Millennial pink” …emerged in 2012 and some would argue earlier. According to the New York Magazine’s The Cut, the color gained cult status in 2016. Flavors in this group include: Pineapple Watermelon, Pink & White Cookie, Rosé Black Cherry Lemonade

The Familiar with the Not So Familiar - taps into consumers’ desire for fun and playful flavors. The younger consumers’ desire for entertainment and experiences, continue to drive innovation, which can be seen across markets and applications. Flavors in this group include:
Deep Fried Cookie Dough, Raspberry Chipotle, Whiskey Pickle

Food Processing’s Emerging Ingredients for 2018 Source: Food Processing, Posted October 25, 2017

Food Processing’s Laura Hart provides a list of up-and-coming ingredients some with new takes on traditional ingredients and some that may be disruptive.

Essential choline – The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee listed it as a critical but under-consumed ingredient.

Acerola – Mintel Group reports new product launches containing acerola cherry rose by 36 percent between 2012 and 2016.

Coffee fruit – The pulp surrounding the coffee bean is antioxidant-rich. For every 6 million tons of coffee consumed, there is roughly 24 million tons of waste produced. {Is this a 2017 or 2018 TSS}

Perennial grain kernza – General Mills’ Cascadian Farm has announced intention to eventually commercialize this perennial wild cousin of wheatgrass.

Turmeric powder – The fat-soluble component curcumin helps reduce inflammation. In lab tests, curcumin seems to block the growth of certain kinds of tumors.

Cannabis derivatives – Research on cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabis derivative compound, indicates it has analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety properties without the psychoactive effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Beets take root – Its been suggested that beet roots can help lower blood pressure, fight cardiovascular disease and prevent dementia…and to provide color in recipes.

Arginine – This “conditionally essential” amino acid is critical for preterm infants and others with certain medical conditions. A component of collagen, and found in red meat and shrimp, arginine helps the body produce nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels.

Banana flour – Unripe bananas have high levels of resistant starch. The flour is a great fit for stabilization and clean-label viscosity modification. {GFF Editor’s Note: The supplier of unripe banana flour was chosen by Global Food Forums’ Advisory Board to present a Technical Snapshot on the product at the 2018 Clean label Conference}

Bitter blockers – Some plant-based proteins may taste bitter. MycoTechnology Inc. has created a fermentation process using shiitake mushrooms’ root systems, that results in a flavorless bitter blocker.

Sterling Rice Group’s 2018 Culinary “Trendjectory” Report Source: Sterling Rice Group Posted November 9, 2017

  1. Coffee + Spice is Everything Nice:…think chai-style coffee or coffee layered with flavors of cinnamon, orange zest and clove.
  2. U-mami Makes Breakfast: Jianbing is a traditional Chinese street-food breakfast crepe brushed with umami-rich hoisin and chili sauce; layered with egg, pickled veggies, and herbs, and sometimes customized with sausage or bacon.
  3. Moringa is the Thinga! Drived from the leaves of the “tree of life” moringa has more protein, fiber, calcium and vitamins than matcha.

4.Slow Dough: The frenzy for fermentation continues. Pinsa is an ancient Roman style of pizza that uses a flour blend with longer fermentation periods to make the bread easier to digest.

5.Trendy Tea and The Chickpea: Burmese cuisine, a blend of Chinese, Laotian, Indian, and Thai flavors, has the staying power to appeal to a variety of different palates, and we predict it will be pushing front and center in 2018.

6.The Objectification of Food: Instagram has made food evermore about styling than substance. Next year the Culinary Institute of America will start offering classes on how to take “Insta-ready” photos of food.

Innova Market Insights’ Top Ten Trends for 2018

Source: Innova Market Insight, November 9, 2017.  See slideshow for more information.

1.  Mindful Choices. Consumers are more conscious than ever about making responsible food choices, and increasingly want to know what is in their food and how it is produced.

2. Lighter Enjoyment. Consumers 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.

3. Positively Processed. As consumers become more concerned about naturalness and minimal processing techniques, the industry is reviving traditional processes such as fermented foods and cold brew tea and coffee, alongside the development of new ones.

4. Going Full Circle. [There is] greater consumer expectation that brands will be more resource-smart via developments such as tip-to-tail eating, innovative uses for food waste and more biodegradable and renewable packaging.

5. Beyond the Coffeehouse. Coffee is trending among Millennial and Generation Z consumers, tea is reinventing itself among the younger generations. Coffee and tea are increasingly being used as ingredients and flavors outside the hot drinks and iced tea and coffee sub-categories across a wide variety of products.

6. Say it with Color.  “Instagrammable” food is becoming more and more vital to millennials, so the time for foods with vibrant colors has arrived. While social media appears to be playing a huge part in the trend, natural food colors are also opening up the opportunity to deliver products that connect bright colors and health.

7. Dining Out, In:  The lines between foodservice and grocery are being blurred, and this is opening up new opportunities for food experiences at home. As consumers look for restaurant-quality experiences, more innovation in consumer-packaged products is tapping into this need.

8. From Snacks to Mini Meals. Busy lifestyles mean that meal times and occasions are becoming less prevalent and people are seeking quick and convenient, yet healthy, solutions. “The other thing that we see happening in the snacking area is fruits and vegetables with a snack claim,” comments Innova Market Insights’ Lu Ann Williams. 

9. Ocean Garden. Nutrient-dense vegetables from the sea, like kelp and spirulina, long established in the supplements sector, are finding their way into a wider variety of new food and beverage products due to their ability to provide nutritional fortification, act as a natural source of color and deliver unique flavors, with umami being a particularly strong example.

10. Bountiful Choice. Brands are always looking to connect more closely with consumers in terms of their specific needs and tastes. …“Around 10 percent of consumers in every category usually say they’re attracted to novelty and variety,” Williams observes. “I think this is where some of the declines are coming in big food companies, and there’s growth for these small niche products that are meeting this consumer need and interest in novelty.”

Packaged Facts’ 2018 Culinary Trends

Source: Packaged Facts’ report New Spins on Standards 2017: Culinary Trend Tracking Series, November 7, 2017. See more information on its Press Release.

The latest wave of culinary innovation is cooking up inspiration and innovation based more on the familiar than the exotic or foreign. Here are a few highlights:

• Cauliflower at Center & Side: Cauliflower benefits from its versatility as it can be prepared in many ways, including global preps such as Indian curries and fritters and Italian pasta.

• Eggs Benedict Trending Across Dayparts: Increased experimentation and multi-culturalism with omelets has opened the door for more Benedict experimentation.

• Mac & Cheese Beyond the Box: This much-beloved comfort food is being adapted and re-adapted into many forms and fancies.

• Meatballs are on a Roll:  Meatballs made of beef, pork, lamb, bison, duck, turkey, and even plant proteins such as lentils are definitely trending, including fine dining restaurants.

• Olives Across the Board: ….olives pack a lot of flavor, versatility and allure. And…olives are egalitarian, representing opportunity at every price point in both foodservice and retail.

• Better with Brown Butter: It’s hard to go wrong with brown butter, a double-down on comfort food flavor and texture. Name a favorite dessert, and it’s probably better with brown butter.

• Figuring out Figs: In fine dining, figs appear in about three out of ten menus. But upscale casual dining is where the growth has been.

• (Earl Grey) Tea Time at Dessert: While tea-flavored ice creams are now mass-market, tea as a dessert or drink flavoring remains happy hunting ground for foodies.

Whole Foods Market Reveals Top Food Trends for 2018

Source: Predictions are from Whole Foods Market’s experts and industry leaders who spot trends for the retailer’s more than 470 stores. See press release for examples and more in-depth explanations.

1. Floral Flavors: Foragers and culinary stars have embraced edible petals for years, but floral inspiration is finally in full bloom.

2. Super Powders: Because they’re so easy to incorporate, [powders have] found their way into lattés, smoothies, nutrition bars, soups and baked goods. Examples from Whole Foods include matcha, maca root, cacao, ground turmeric, spirulina, kale, herbs, roots and protein powders.

3. Functional Mushrooms: Functional mushrooms are traditionally used to support wellness as an ingredient in dietary supplements but are now showing up in products across categories.

4. Feast from the Middle East: 2018 will bring these tasty traditions into the mainstream. Regional nuances and classic ingredients of Middle Eastern cultures with influences like Persian, Israeli, Moroccan, Syrian and Lebanese are rising to the top.

5. Transparency 2.0: More is more when it comes to product labeling. Consumers want to know the real story behind their food, and how that item made its way from the source to the store. GMO transparency is top-of-mind, but shoppers seek out other details, too, such as Fair Trade certification, responsible production and animal welfare standards.

6. 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, these techniques are creating mind-bending alternatives like “bleeding” vegan burgers or sushi-grade “not-tuna” made from tomatoes.

7. Puffed & Popped Snacks: …new technology is revolutionizing all things puffed, popped, dried and crisped. New extrusion methods (ways of processing and combining ingredients), have paved the way for popped cassava chips, puffed pasta bow ties, seaweed fava chips and puffed rice clusters.

8. Tacos Come Out of Their Shell: Tacos are showing up for breakfast, and trendy restaurants across the country have dessert variations. Most of all, tacos are shedding their shell for new kinds of wrappers and fillings too – think seaweed wrappers with poke filling.

9. Root-to-Stem: Between nose-to-tail butchery and reducing food waste, a few forces are combining to inspire root-to-stem cooking, which makes use of the entire fruit or vegetable, including the stems or leaves that are less commonly eaten.

10. Say Cheers to the Other Bubbly: LaCroix may have paved the way, but now there’s an entire booming category of sparkling beverages vying for consumer attention. Just don’t call them “soda.”

Mintel’s Global Food & Drink Trends 2018

Source: Mintel’s team of expert analysts have pinpointed five key trends that will impact the global food and drink market in the coming year. 

1. FULL-DISCLOSURE:  In our new post-truth reality, consumers require complete and total transparency from food and drink companies.

2. SELF-FULFILLING PRACTICES:  As more consumers find modern life to be hectic and stressful, flexible and balanced diets will become integral elements of self-care routines.

3. NEW SENSATIONS: Texture is the latest tool to engage the senses and deliver share-worthy experiences.

4. PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT: A new era in personalisation is dawning due to the expansion of online and mobile food shopping.

5. SCIENCE FARE: Technology is being used to engineer solutions for our stretched global food supply.