In November and December of every year, food industry “observers” and so-called experts come up with a seemingly random list of foods consumers are all going to be excited about over the next 12 months.
I say this with a little humor because I’m lumping myself into the crowd, of course.
Before I delve into my predictions for 2019, I thought it would be fun to evaluate what the experts said we’d be eating in years past.
In late 2008, I was just returning to work after having my first child in August. The economy took a dive and we were all facing the Great Recession. The experts said we’d be cooking Pork n’ Beans – still in the can – over a camp fire.
I may be exaggerating a little, but the situation got shaky for a lot of us at the time, and “recession food” and learning to cook was at the top of many lists.
NPR’s Weekend Edition talked about 2009’s food trends in terms of “comfort, value and simplicity,” according to this article, with simple restaurants serving comfort food like breakfast all day long.
The Food Channel, too, cited the downsized economy for a new revolution of home chefs, and the growth of virtual and non-virtual food communities. I guess we can see the fruits of this trend now, 10 years later, in the popularity of sites like Food52, Thrillist, UrbanSpoon (now called Zomato…not sure that’s an upgrade, tbh), Yelp, Tasty (I bet you didn’t know Tasty doesn’t even own www.tasty.com, huh? It exists only on social media and as a segment of BuzzFeed) and more. Does it seem possible that it was almost a decade ago that food critics became less relevant as consumer ratings took over.
Another big trend from a decade ago echoes what we’re going through now in the produce industry, in the wake of yet another E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce. Food Safety was top-of-mind for a lot of trend predictors after the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak linked first to tomatoes, then to salsa, and then to serrano and jalapenos. The inconclusive trace back wrought havoc on tomato markets that year.
Smoked food was the new fried food in 2009, according to this epicurious list, and now air-fried food is the new Instant Pot replacement. Could this all be a scam from gadget makers and Amazon? I’ve yet to try air fried empanadas, which my friend Amanda at Produce For Kids swears are delicious.
Stay tuned as I predict more of 2019’s Fresh Produce Food Trends to Watch.