2016 was a wild year for tons of great food. The explosion of poke onto the scene, tons of spicy foods in fast food and challenge forms, the massive growth of ramen, and many more trends were huge throughout this past year.
As the year comes to a close, several reports from Whole Foods, Forbes, Specialty Foods, and more have surfaced and sites have published their opinions on what trends in food will be big for the coming year. After taking a look at several of these lists, and based on what we've seen here at Foodbeast, we've compiled our own list of predictions for what trends will surface, grow, or explode in the coming year.
Bowls will continue to evolve
In 2016, bowls were a big trend, but relegated mainly to the realms of acai and poke. Expect more bowls of various kinds to come out in the new year, with bibimbap, breakfast bowls, and more rising up in popularity as we head into 2017. Rice won't be the starch vehicle of choice as well, with french fries and other starchy ingredients becoming the bases to several new bowls.
Spicy foods will still be hot
Get ready to seriously get your yolk on
With the price of eggs recovering nicely, eggs have been popping up everywhere in restaurants. The huge trend that comes up with that is what has to be characterized as yolk porn - tons of oozing dishes topped with that perfectly cooked egg with the runny yolk that adds so much flavor. Yolks have been huge in 2016, and will continue to be in 2017.
Global authenticity isn't just a desire anymore - it's a demand
As we become more educated, more understanding of each other, and more invested in traditional culture, we've begun to demand more authenticity in our food. Gone are the days where "American Chinese" or "American Italian" was the accepted norm. People want authentic chefs to bring in traditional food, and chefs have been responding. With authentic Filipino breakfasts, restaurants like Tim Ho Wan bringing genuine dim sum, and a huge increase in demand for authentic Japanese food like Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki, we are moving away from "Americanizing" dishes and looking for traditional food more often.
Street food likely won't be cooling down
As we live on-the-go much of our lives now, portable and quick food is huge to our lifestyle. Street food defines exactly that, and has been exploding on the scene with sushi burritos, street fries, wraps, tacos, and more continuing to evolve and grow. With street festivals, food halls, and night markets growing in popularity, street food will continue to explode in new areas and new experiences.
Plant-based meat is just getting started
We've seen how popular the Beyond Burger and Impossible Burger have become with their releases and how close they can get to real meat. As those two products continue to grow and sell, it makes room for other plant-based replicas to enter the market - and there are a ton. From New Wave Foods' plant-based shrimp to Follow Your Heart's vegan cheese and eggs, the market for plant-based protein is still on its meteoric rise and will continue to penetrate stores and restaurants across the country.
Food byproducts are going to start to dominate
One of the biggest concerns of the food industry in more recent years has been food waste. Several companies are playing their part in helping the problem, with Pulp Pantry creating granola from leftover juicery pulp, Regrained making bars out of the spent grain leftover from beer, and other companies continue to take shape. This segment in food is much newer, but it also opens up a cheaper market of tasty, high-nutrition products that consumers want.
Greens are branching out, and kale is paying the price
Kale is no longer the hip superfood it once was, and is rapidly on the decline as the hallmark food for veganism. Chefs are now moving to other greens that are high in nutrients but bold in flavor, with dandelion greens, Swiss chard, carrot tops, and several others becoming the vegetables of choice in a restaurant. Our choice for vegetables is diversifying in a big way, and one of the trademarks of the vegan movement is paying the price.
Local butcheries are making a comeback
As we demand more local and higher quality meat and more charcuterie, butchering has generated a lot more interest. Local butchers are finding markets that were once closed to them are opening up again, and consumers would rather source their meat from local farms that treat their livestock properly rather than the cruel, harmful conditions of factory raising livestock. The quality of meat has been perceptable enough for consumers to pay the higher price, and its helped local, artisanal butchery climb back into the market.
Grain pasta is out, legume pastas are in
With the gluten-free and plant-based markets continuing to explode, consumers are turning to alternative sources of flour to create pastas. Modern Table Meals is one of the chief examples of these legume-based pastas, which tend to boast high protein contents and exciting flavors. These veggie-based pastas have been gaining huge popularity with their recent introductions, and continue to grow.
America's favorite food color is now purple
Purple is one of the most attractive new colors consumers want to see on their plates. While purple cabbage has always been a staple and acai has been big for a while, other pieces of purple produce like radishes, purple sweet potatoes, and purple corn are gaining popularity on plates and in stores. Expect this color to find its way into more places in the coming year.
Breakfast is getting crunchier and more portable
Classics breakfasts in the United States contain very little crunch (with the exception of the ever-popular bacon), and are often massive affairs of runny or scrambled eggs, potatoes, and ham or sausage. With the rise of fried chicken's popularity in breakfast, expect that to change as the fried fowl continues to invade our breakfast menu. Breakfast sandwiches have been popular as well, and will continue to grow as America demands more convenience. Other portable breakfast vehicles like the breakfast taco, breakfast wrap, and more have been in demand.
Overall, the United States is following the trends of healthier, more convenient, and more attractive foods that it has been on for the past year, and that won't change between 2016 and 2017. As new vehicles for these foods like bowls and portable food continue to evolve, so will the demands and interests of consumers. As a writer, I'm definitely excited to how all of the above trends will play out in 2017 — and what new foods and trends I'll get to write about as a result!