The FDR team has taken a look at our food/beverage trend prediction made in 2017 and updated them to reflect where we are at in January 2023. The trends cover everything from Asian flavor trends in the USA to restaurant menu trends. Take a look…
Asian Flavor Trends In The USA Then And Now
Prediction: Asian Ice Cream
We said: Pictures of snow ice with boba, rolled ice cream, and pastel-colored mochi ice cream are filling up our social media feeds and making our mouths water. Read the full ice cream trend story in the blog post on foodanddrinkresources.com. (By the way, this blog post on Asian ice cream is the most popular page on the FDR website.)
2023 update: Google Trends tells us that
- Japanese “mochi” has continued to creep up since 2016
- Thai “rolled ice cream” peaked in the summer of 2016 and 2017 (and has leveled off since then)
- Taiwanese “snow ice cream” was only mildly popular until the summer of 2021 when it saw breakout search interest. We can thank TikTok and other social media for that. Videos of homemade snow ice cream have become pretty popular.
But it doesn’t take Google search data to prove that Asian ice cream has become more popular. In only a five-mile radius of the Food & Drink Resources (FDR) offices, we have several fun ice cream shops like SNOWL and Milkroll Creamery.
We said: Khachapuri is a Georgian (country, not U.S. State) dish of bread, cheese, and eggs. It’s a lot like American-style pizza or cheese bread with an egg on top, and it is delicious.
2023 update: The khachapuri food trend is a fun one to watch on Google Trends. You can see in the chart below that the dish was gaining interest in early 2016, but its popularity just kept ticking up until early 2022 when it peaked. We think its popularity may partly be a result of Oui Melrose in Los Angeles. The menu features eight khachapuri dishes including some East Coast American-inspired varieties like cheesesteak and Maine lobster.
Other Georgian, Russian, and Armenian eateries are popping up elsewhere, too, including Portland and DC. We hope the trend continues.
We said: Seaweed really is the new kale, or at least we are counting on it. Seaweed is sustainable and versatile. Seaweed is also used to create Kombu, a traditional Japanese flavor enhancer made from dried kelp to create dashi, a soup stock. In the United States, kombu is becoming popular for its wonderful umami taste.
2023 update: Seaweed is more popular at the grocery store, but not because it replaced kale. Take a look on the snack shelf and you’ll find dozens of roasted, crispy seaweed snacks in sea salt, teriyaki, and sesame flavors.
The terms “seaweed,” “kombu,” and “nori” (dried seaweed) did show some growth on Google Trends since 2017, and we do see some mention in food industry news, but nothing reporting it’s about to take off in the United States. If anything, many of us are still working to get the word out about the food’s appeal. Click here to learn about an Oregon seafood event with this intention.
Entree Predictions Then And Now
Prediction: Pasta Is Still So Back In
We wrote: The October 2016 issues of Food Network Magazine, Food & Wine, and Bon Appétit all featured pasta dishes on the cover. When we wrote that carbs were cool in 2016, we didn’t know how long they’d stay that way or that the fervor would continue as a 2017 food trend. Thank goodness. We love it.
2023 update: We still love it. In fact, we talked a little bit about pasta’s perseverance in our 2016 food trends update, but it’s worth adding that TikTok pasta creations and inflation are also contributing to pasta’s continued trending-ness. Even though the cost of noodles has gone up considerably, it’s still a cost-effective and versatile food to prepare. Plus, there are lots of gluten-free and veg-laden pasta varieties making it accessible to almost everyone, including restaurant brands on a budget.
Prediction: Meatless Entrees
We said: Many restaurants and manufacturers are presenting meatless entrees to satisfy their environmentally-conscious, health-conscious, and animal-friendly diners. Plant-based protein is essential on 2017 menus.
2023 update: This one is a no-brainer. Plant-based meats like those from Impossible Foods are about ubiquitous. We can’t necessarily say the same thing about the sustainable protein trend we predicted, but we are getting closer. Learn more about eating crickets and offal in this blog post from FDR.
Ingredient Trends Then And Now
We said: Speaking of plant-based proteins, jackfruit is becoming a very popular substitute for meat. The fruit is huge and shreddable, which makes for a fantastic yield.
2023 update: Jackfruit is now an official darling among vegetarians and vegans in the western world. You can find a number of jackfruit-meat-replacement products from prepared wings to canned fruit. Researchers are confident jackfruit will see strong growth in the next 10 years, too.
We said: Dragonfruit is another notable fruit. It’s the new acai with its powerful antioxidant content. Dragonfruit is native to Mexico and Central America and is a “night-blooming climbing cactus.” Sounds lovely, right?
2023 update: The Google Trends chart for dragonfruit looks a lot like the above chart for jackfruit except the jumps upward start later in 2018. It’s popular, especially in juice and tea. In fact, some are calling jackfruit the “flavor of the year in 2023.”
If you’re interested in dragonfruit growing and distribution, this recent article from The New York Times is worth a read.
Prediction: Especially Dark
We said: It starts with vegetables all different ways–smoked, charred, dark roasted–and continues to other dark foods like black rice.
2023 update: While we love the idea of black rice on the plate, this trend hasn’t taken off as we anticipated. Google Trends shows peaks in 2010 and 2014 but from 2015 onward its popularity seems to have remained consistent. Perhaps black rice a/k/a forbidden rice a/k/a purple rice won’t go mainstream anytime soon. However, we do enjoy seeing the different recipes on food blogs – like this one – and profiles of the food – like this one – in magazines.
We said: The National Restaurant Association named protein-rich seeds as one of its Top 20 Food Trends this year. We agree. Flax, chia, hemp, pumpkin, nigella, and sunflower seeds are showing up everywhere in restaurants and grocery stores; the seed trend is growing in 2017.
2023 update: It’s still true. You are finding seeds in alternative dairy, snack foods, bread, and breakfast foods like oatmeal, granola, and acai bowls nowadays. But is it revolutionizing the culinary world? No. Is it welcomed by those on plant-based or other health-conscious diets? Certainly.
Prediction: African Spice Blends
We said: The big, bold flavors of Africa are a source of culinary inspiration. Spices are the essence of African cuisine, and African spice blends are an exciting way to bring flavor to any dish.
Cooking Trends Then And Now
We said: Instead of smoothies nowadays, it’s all about fruit soups. Even dragonfruit soups! Served cold and made mostly of pureed fruits and chunks of fruit, these soups make a nice dessert. Look for them popping up on menus throughout the country.
2023 update: A chilled tomato and stone fruit soup sounds delightful for a summer meal on the patio. However, beyond a few recipes, there is very little information about fruit soup trends that we can find. This food trend prediction from 2017 appears to have fallen flat.
Prediction: Flavored Butters
We said: Chefs have long created their own compound butters to simplify recipes. Look for more prepared flavored butters in retail now, too.
2023 update: Butter is back. We can eat fat again. Turns out, it’s something the body needs in moderation. This awareness on top of the butter board trend and growth of compound butter CPG brands, like our friends at Epicurean Butter, butter of all flavors is more commonplace in the consumer market.
Drink Trends Then And Now
Prediction: No Soda
We said: Sparkling water only. The LaCroix craze isn’t going anywhere.
2023 update: This is a trend prediction we talked about in both 2016 and 2017. The surge was big. What we wish we had added to our original predictions was how sparkling water is often used in lieu of sugary mixers in cocktails. Plant water in cocktails and low-alcohol cocktails trended pretty hard, too. (Keep reading for more on sober spirits.)
We said: For years, many have taken home their favorite microbrews in a glass container called a growler. Now, these same brewers are canning beer in what has been cleverly coined a “Crowler.” (Can meets growler…get it?)
2023 update: Crowlers did become more popular at breweries, especially during the COVID years when to-go alcohol orders kept many restaurants and breweries afloat. Crowlers are recyclable, cheap to make, and the consumer doesn’t have to remember to bring it back every time they want a refill.
We’d like to add…that canned alcoholic beverages of all kinds are commonplace in 2023. Need we remind you of all that seltzer? And the canned wine options, too! They may not always be large cans, but they are cans and convenient nonetheless.
We said: More and more restaurants are adding mocktails to the menu that go beyond Shirley Temples. Think alcohol-free gin and rose-scented iced tea instead.
2023 update: We are writing this article in January, a time when “dry January” articles and social media posts abound. Most of these articles feature recipes for fancy concoctions meant to trick your mind into thinking you are drinking alcohol when it’s really just juice. That level of sugar doesn’t jive for many, which also explains why many celebrities have attached their names to alcohol-free, low or no-sugar CPG beverage lines, some of which are even sold in cans (like we talked about in the entry above).
Back in 2017, we couldn’t have predicted quite how big the sober spirit trend would become. Many local restaurants and bars are getting extensive coverage for their unique approach to mocktails. There are even sober bars opening up in big cities across the US. According to an article from Business Insider, sober drinks have become an industry segment of their own.
“Consumers have picked up on the growing non-alcoholic beverage market, too. Non-alcoholic spirit sales nearly doubled in 2022, according to Nielsen IQ data, far surpassing the sales increases of non-alcoholic wine and beer.” – Business Insider
Restaurant Menu Trends Then And Now
Prediction: Healthful Kids’ Menus
We said: …many chefs are parents themselves, and restaurants, from fast food and fast casual to fine dining, are taking note. Read the full article here.
Prediction: Transparent Menus
We said: No, not see-through paper menus. Rather, calorie counts and nutritional values on the menu. A story printed on the wall explaining how you source your ingredients. A social media campaign profiling your farmers. Transparency is an essential part of menu development and brand marketing in 2017.
Cuisine Trends Then And Now
Prediction: Nikkei Cuisine
We said: We cringe when we hear “fusion.” It’s so…1990s. However, it adequately describes the strong restaurant concept trend toward Nikkei cuisine. Japan and Peru have a long cultural history between them, which has resulted in a melding of ingredients and techniques.
2023 update: We indeed have better words for fused cuisines nowadays. We especially like “chaos cooking” (as described in this article on DenverPost.com). Yes, Nikkei is found in the fine dining space throughout the world, not just in Peru where it began. However, it does not appear to be mainstream. Yet. We’ll keep waiting.
Read this article in Food & Wine about Sen Sakana, a Manhattan restaurant doing Nikkei right.
We said: Shawarma refers to a style of Arab meat preparation. It is often lamb, chicken, beef, or a mix that is grilled on a spit. Coming near you!
2023 update: Love a chart that shows strong upward growth. Google Trends data for shawarma is interesting, especially seeing how it is so popular in Michigan. Likely due to the large population of people who have relocated from Middle Eastern countries to the Detroit area. There are several national shawarma restaurant brands we have our eyes on including The Halal Guys, which has a location in Aurora not far from FDR’s office.
Prediction: Elegant Retro 1960s Cuisine
We said: American culture in the 1960s was defined by war, rations, TV dinners, and…elegance. We’re talking beef wellington and beef bourguignon. In 2017, many local restaurants started to include such items on their menus, too. (Read about it here.)
2023 update: According to Google Trends, these elegant beef dishes continue to be popular today. Others in the industry are confident retro foods will be gaining popularity in 2023 still. Take a look at this article from In The Know. We like this line from Chef Brian Hatfield, Surveyor at Thompson Washington D.C.
“I think that the trend in 2023 and beyond could be seeing more throwback flavors, simplified techniques and emphasis on executing that comfortable nostalgia with sustainable quality ingredients.”
We also need to take this opportunity to pat ourselves on the back. According to Google Trends’ Year In Search Report, “Beef Stroganoff recipe” was the most searched-for recipe in 2017. See the full Google report here.
Snack Trends Then And Now
Prediction: Cheetos For The Young Ones
We said: What will grab this generation by the horns? What item do young people have the “hots” for? Cheetos!
2023 update: In 2017, Taco Bell, Burger King, and others – even popups – were tying Cheetos into the menu to attract those millennials. That’s when FDR’s young development chefs made recipe suggestions of their own. This might be one of the most dramatic Google Trends charts we’ve seen. It proves consumer interest in Cheetos was at a serious high in the summer of 2016.
It doesn’t seem that Cheetos went mainstream on the menu, but culturally they continue to pervade. Though, it’s not just Cheetos. Takis are popular and some chefs/artists have their own take, including Chef Jenner Tomaska at Chicago’s Esmé. (Please click here to see. The video of the cheese puff extruding process is one of a kind.)
Prediction: Global Appetizer Trends
We said: Given how international tastes are a strong food trend these days, we thought it only appropriate to see how global flavors are landing in appetizers. Read the full article on the appetizer trend here.
2023 updates: Perhaps this food trend update belongs under the restaurant category or the Asian food category, we’re not sure. What we are sure of is that international flavors on American menus is not going away. It’s not a trend anymore. It’s an expectation.
Diners want flavors that are both familiar and new. Satisfying and challenging. It’s not enough to just offer burgers and salads anymore. Restaurants must provide interest. That’s a fact.
Trends That Didn’t Make The Cut
Some of our trend predictions didn’t make the cut for this updated 2023 article. For instance, we thought live fire cooking and incense on the table would become more mainstream. We also thought that Oko Nam Yaki (savory Japanese pancakes) would show up on more menus. But…there’s not much data to report here. Maybe coming soon?
There’s also this article we wrote about brunch cocktails in 2016. There’s no doubt that brunch has become more popular in recent years (it’s not just an east coast or west coast thing anymore), and with it, morning cocktails, too. However, that’s an analysis all its own.
Then, there’s pie. We love pie. But the data is noisy and it’s tough to pin down its trendiness. However, this article from Food & Wine has us optimistic that others love pie as much as we do and that it might take center stage soon. Like it should.
Our Research Methodology
The FDR team observes the menus in culinary centers such as New York, Los Angeles, and even Denver/Boulder and Houston. We also look to industry associations and research organizations such as Mintel, Technomic, and others that we linked to throughout this post. FDR’s own consumer research arm provides insights from our onsite focus groups, CLTs, and other tests, too.
We also look at Google Trends, a Google tool that provides analytical data of top Google search queries across various regions and languages. We recognize this data is not bulletproof but it does provide insights we find useful.