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Food and Beverage Trends 2012

  Wondering what’s new for food and beverage this summer? Here’s a collection of trends that are expected to grow stronger.

A New Fruit--Pluerry: This hybrid fruit, a combination of a plum and cherry, was developed for plum lovers who don’t like juice dribbling down their chin; it could be in supermarkets soon.

Honey: The battle between high-fructose corn syrup and sugar could end with honey as the victor. Touted as a natural alternative, it will be featured in everything from menu items to skincare treatments and medicine.

Mushrooms: The health benefits of mushrooms will give fungi a boost as more consumers look to add functional foods to their diets.

Screened Dining: Interactive screens are already making waves in restaurants, replacing menus and sometimes workers, and helping to entertain diners. The trend toward ordering or paying using iPads and other tablets, touch screen tables and self-order kiosks will only grow.

Flavor Solutions: Compensating for lower levels of salt, fat and/or sugar will continue to increase the need for more flavorful solutions. Combinations of herbs, spices and other strong flavors will provide a flavorful backdrop to many products. Think of ingredient combinations such as lemongrass, garlic and ginger or the use of seaweed as a salt enhancer. Also look for more adventurous and “premium" flavor combinations like lavender in dark chocolate.

Healthy Foods: The food and beverage industry better go healthy, because healthy food and drink is projected to be a big trend for 2012. This can include gluten-free and food allergy-conscious items. Also be on the lookout for whole grains, a wider range of salads, selection in portion size (a predicted 2012 food trend on this aspect are children’s mini-meals, or smaller versions of adult meals), and low-sodium options. All of those are expected to grow in popularity as well. On the beverage end, look out for more juice bars. An industry leader on this end is Starbucks, which purchased juice maker Evolution Fresh about a month ago.

So Are Smaller Portions: Especially as Americans get more health-conscious and portion-conscious, industry leaders in the food and beverage industry ought to be catering to the 2012 food trend of smaller portions. Whether it’s those children’s meals as previously mentioned, or smaller desserts, or even extra large dishes that are meant to be shared, diners are paying attention to these types of things. Something that’s on the rise on this angle is the appetizer. Whether you call them tapas or small plates, appetizers are going to keep growing strong for several reasons. Chefs like them because appetizers allow them to experiment with new recipes and ingredients without committing to a full-scale meal. Diners like them because they are smaller, cheaper, and can be shared much more easily.


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