2019 Food Trend Forecast

Thursday, January 17, 2019

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At the beginning of the year, individuals with a vested interest in the food industry (from farmers to restaurateurs) pay close attention to food trends. Not only are these an indicia of how we eat but they also spur the creation of products (eg gluten-free cake mixes), dining concepts (eg authentic Neapolitan pizzerias outside of Naples) and cultural moments (eg Meatless Mondays). At Thursday Food we pored over reports from the agri sector, trend forecasters and food science journals to share some of the expected top food trends for 2019.

Eco-Conscious Packaging

The Government's ban on single-use plastic bags and styrofoam is on-trend, as it is environmentally necessary. Global brands like Frito Lay and Colgate-Palmolive are switching to packaging that has smaller or negligible environmental footprints. It's getting more common in North America for grocery stores to reward customers for bringing their own bags. And locally, lunch spots like WellSpring and chains like Island Grill have shown that a hot lunch and styrofoam boxes aren't synonymous.


A fancy word for “brain food” Proponents ofneuro-nutrition believe that enhanced cognitive function is the new six-pack. This approach has evidentiary proof which illustrates the effect our diet has on brain function and mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Foods good for neuro-nutrition include fatty fish like salmon, coffee, turmeric, pumpkin seeds, broccoli, nuts, eggs, green tea, blueberries and dark chocolate. Research shows that these foods help to boost brain power, maintain good mental health and keeps us sharp long into old age.


According to the Harvard School of Public Health, fermented foods “can give your body a dose of healthy probiotics, which are live microorganisms crucial to healthy digestion”. Fermented foods such as yoghurt, kombucha, and pickled vegetables (yes, like jars containing Scotch bonnet, carrots and cho-cho Jamaicans love) allow the gut's good bacteria to flourish. As a result, digestion is improved, immunity is boosted and a healthy weight can be maintained.


People are hungry for oxtail. Google Trends shows that the North American searches for oxtail recipes increased 209% last year and that number continues to grow. Whether it's the proliferation of Jamaican restaurants (you can find yard food in Winnipeg, on Australia's Gold Coast and Tokyo) or the fact that Italian cuisine proudly showed osso buco on menus in 2018, oxtail may just become 2019's foie gras.


Move over, kale, moringa is here! The locally grown superfood is chock-full of protein, calcium, iron, beta carotene and vitamin C. Moringa leaves have become well known in their dry form and consumed as tea, although there are many more preparations from curries to soup. The pods and flowers, too, can be eaten. In India moringa pods, commonly known as drumsticks, are eaten widely. Health food companies are catching on to the trend; luckily, we have easy access to the world-renowned superfood.


No surprise here. When cauliflower steak popped up on the menu of Gordon Ramsay's Michelin-star London restaurant it was a matter of time before it began to trend. Since then cauliflower has been used as a substitute for chicken (spicy buffalo bites), for flour (cauliflower — or should we say cauliflour — pizza crust) and rice (cauliflower fried “rice”). This year, expect to see this vegetable served in more creative ways.


Expect to see the term “fruit meat” gaining traction this year. Jackfruit has joined vegetables as a creative meat substitute and vegans the world over are singing the praises of a fruit many Jamaicans dismiss as being “too stainy” or, worse, “run belly”. Jackfruit is high in dietary fibre and is packed with vitamins, minerals and cancer-fighting isoflavones, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. The inside of the fruit can be braised to make stews, curries and mimic pulled pork.

Low sugar

We reckon sugar is now public enemy #1 (hey there, Minister Tufton) and again our Government is responding to global trends and encouraging consumers and manufacturers to opt for and provide low-sugar alternatives. With sugar substitutes like stevia, maple syrup and coconut sugar becoming easy to obtain and use and persons willing to purchase reduced sugar beverages, Jamaica is already ahead of this trend. But we all know the best life is one that exercises (see what we did there) moderation.


We strongly believe that the “beer in the ugly bottle” may have something to do with this. Ha! The popularity of lagers has to do with them being rather easy-to-drink and not having polarising reviews when it comes to flavour and taste. With the global expansion of beer-focused restaurants and craft breweries, lagers are poised to have a stellar year. Hooray, beer!


At this point, you can argue that 2019's food trends were largely influenced by The Rock. According to the BBC, “Millenials are particularly partial to barrel-aged, small-batch craft rums, fine rums from traditional Caribbean makers.” Rum is seen as one of the most accessible spirits and can please a myriad of palates whether the drinker seeks the smoothness of an aged dark, the hair-raising effects of white overproof or the natural sweetness of gold.

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