Food Trends: A Taste of 2014

As we look to the New Year, we look forward to new projects, new partnerships, and, of course, new food trends. Here’s a look at the food and beverage trends set to take center stage in 2014.

1) Donuts: Not only have these doughy delights taken 2013 by storm (move over, cupcake), they are set to continue trending into 2014. Tapping into the convenience food trend, the donut offers single-handed edibility and a variety of fun flavors and forms, appealing to Millennials’ ongoing quest for new, interesting flavor combinations.

2) Tea: Beyond tea time, tea flavors are set to influence flavors in dairy beverages, cocktails, ice cream, and other infused foods and drinks.

3) Ginger: In addition to seasoning soups and sauces, ginger is expected to make a big splash in the beverage industry, with alcoholic ginger beer gaining quite a bit of buzz. The ginger trend reflects both the growing influence of Asian flavors and consumer demand for spicy flavors.

4) Szechuan: As Millennials seek spicier foods, a variety of hot chilis like the Szechuan pepper is bringing heat to a greater variety of dishes in 2014. Set to inspire baristas with its citrusy zing (think Szechuan margarita) and liven up snacks and sauces, the Szechuan pepper is likely to spice up grocery shelves with its trend-inspiring heat.

5) Homemade (with help): Home cooks are seeking to put their personal spin on dishes but often don’t have the time to make a full meal from scratch. Enter almost ready-made meals that leave some of the preparation, assembly, and even seasoning to the consumer. Kraft’s Recipe Makers give home chefs the chance to customize their culinary creations with a few ready-made shortcuts, like its Verde Chicken Enchiladas Recipe Makers featured in this commercial:

6) Jackfruit: Currently an uncommon flavor in the U.S., jackfruit has been pegged as an emerging trend. Whether it becomes a flavor of the hour or a flavor of the year in 2014 remains to be seen.

7) Waste Less: As consumers seek greater awareness of how the things they consume affect the planet, packaging trends are taking a less-is-more approach. From sustainable packaging options to those that minimize material use, food and beverage packaging is slimming down to get consumers’ thumbs up.

8) Seaweed: Seaweed is going beyond sushi, with chefs already beginning to use it in a wider array of dishes. As consumers continue to seek greater nutritional value from convenience foods and ready meals, seaweed’s popularity could reach grocery store aisles, trending its way into snacks, soups, and beyond.

9) Gluten-Free: In addition to the community of Celiac and gluten-intolerant consumers, there is a growing segment of those going gluten-free by choice. The trend is projected to continue gaining momentum with mainstream consumer brands adding product lines targeting the gluten-free audience.

10) High-Protein: With the rapid growth of Greek yogurt, the high-protein trend is no surprise. In addition to flavor and nutritional attributes, consumers are considering satiety when selecting snacks and convenience foods. While yogurts, bars, and shakes have long promoted protein, its increasing appearance on packaging and the push of protein-rich legumes to the snack aisles shows that it’s still on the upswing.

With these trends and more on the horizon, we’re looking forward to a taste-full 2014.