Professional chefs predict the hottest food trends for 2018

Each year the National Restaurant Association (NRA), major grocery store outlets, food magazines and others offer predictions for the hottest food trends for the upcoming year.

December 18, 2017 - Author: ,

Photo credit: National Restaurant Association
Photo credit: National Restaurant Association

Each year the National Restaurant Association (NRA), major grocery store outlets, food magazines and others offer predictions for the hottest food trends for the upcoming year. Annually, the NRA surveys approximately 700 professional chefs, who are members of the American Culinary Federation, to determine the Top 10 hot trends. For 2018, these include:

  1. New cuts of meat
  2. House-made condiments
  3. Street food-inspired dishes
  4. Ethnic-inspired breakfast items (chorizo, breakfast burritos, etc.)
  5. Sustainable seafood (consumers are demanding to know more about where their seafood is coming from and how it is harvested)
  6. Healthful kids’ meals (whole grains, fruit, salads, and lean protein)
  7. Vegetable carb substitutes
  8. Uncommon herbs
  9. Authentic ethnic cuisine (largely due to millennials with adventurous palates)
  10. Ethnic spices
  11. Peruvian cuisine
  12. House-made/artisan pickles
  13. Heritage-breed meats
  14. Thai-rolled ice cream
  15. African flavors (increasing demand for international food)
  16. Ethnic-inspired kids’ dishes
  17. Doughnuts with non-traditional filling
  18. Gourmet items in kids’ meals
  19. Ethnic condiments
  20. Ancient grains

The NRA also produces a list of the top ten concept trends, trends by category, and more. Several of these trends include: hyper-local[1]; natural ingredients; local sourcing of meat, seafood, and produce; farm-branded items; vegetable forward cuisine; and environmental sustainability. For a complete breakdown of the top food trends please visit the National Restaurant Association report.

Whole Foods Market’s experts and buyers, also released their predictions for 2018’s top food trends. Floral flavors in drinks and snacks; super powders (that contain protein, kale, turmeric, spirulina, etc.) that can be added to smoothies, coffee drinks and more; functional mushrooms; Middle Eastern food; and transparency and accurate product labeling take the top five spots.

Finally, the market intelligence firm MINTEL, also recently announced its predictions for the top five global food and drink trends for 2018. These include: transparency and traceability, texture, technology for ‘personalization’ and food manufacturing, and flexible and balanced diets that promote ‘self-care’.

Taken together, the 2018 food trends seem to suggest an ever increasing focus on locally grown foods and beverages, increasing demand for “ethnic foods” or foods new to the general American palate, an overall interest in healthy eating, and increasing transparency throughout the food system.

If you are interested in local food, farming, and community food systems, please contact Garrett Ziegler or another member of the Michigan State University Extension Community Food Systems Work team or contact your local Michigan State University Extension office.

[1] “Hyperlocal food production is food grown, processed, and consumed at the neighborhood level of a community.”

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