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New Year’s predictions are a time-honored tradition in the food industry. Supermarket chains, trade associations and consumer research centers all make their own predictions about the trends that will rule the aisles in the coming year. Sometimes they get it right.
Not long ago, weather forecasters were referring to gochujang, a fermented chili paste that has a long history in Korean kitchens, but was a rarity at the time in US retailers. Nowadays, you can pick up a jar at Target or Walmart pretty easily.
We spoke to the experts and sifted through the reports published for the coming year. Here are five of the most compelling grocery trends forecasters will predict in 2023.
Dates have been around for centuries, though it’s unlikely that Mesopotamians would have turned them into candy bars. The sticky, gem-tinged fruit earned a new place in the popular imagination this year, thanks to a viral TikTok recipe for stuffed dates inspired by Snickers.
This is only the beginning, forecasters suggest, as dates show promise as a natural sugar substitute and an ingredient in all kinds of products from cookies to barbecue sauce.
“Expect more dates in every shape and form,” noted the Specialty Foods Association’s Trendspotter panel for 2023. A recent report from Whole Foods also noted a major renaissance in “nature’s candy” in the new year. “Consumers are looking for snacks that are healthier yet still convenient and satisfying,” said Melanie Barthelme, co-director of Mintel Food & Drink. Moreover, dates have a low glycemic index, which means that they do not contribute to a spike in blood sugar.
If you like modern, plant-based burgers that bleed like real beef, get ready for the next big thing in man-made proteins: alternative seafood.
We’re talking frozen delicacies like fish sticks made with rice flakes and vegan shrimp made with konjac root. It’s a small but rapidly growing company, with at least 120 companies around the world competing to provide edible solutions to issues like overfishing, microplastic pollution, and seafood allergy.
The number of plant-based seafood products sold in the United States jumped 25% in 2021, according to the nonprofit Good Food Institute. And there’s a lot more on the way, as investors poured nearly $175 million into alternative seafood companies last year alone.
The hot sauce boom over the past decade or so has spilled over into other products like honey and ketchup, as the public’s appetite for capsaicin-laden flavors shows no signs of abating. Look out for new chili-infused cheeses, cookies, all with varying heat levels and often with callouts for a specific chili on the label.
Consider the state of our world and remember that nice food is for the quieter times. “Spicy food tends to gain popularity during tough times, as hotter products can give consumers a quick release from their daily stresses without a lot of investment,” said Bartelm of Mintel. “Providing precise heat sources from different types of pepper gives consumers more opportunities for this kind of mental relief.”
Hispanic and Asian food items in general dominate the so-called ethnic foods aisle in American supermarkets. This narrow band began to widen, with an increasing influx of Caribbean, South American, and West African influences.
If you’ve never tried Ghanaian-style Cheetos before, you’re in luck! You can now pick up a bottle at Target or Walmart. Experts point out that these heightened tastes are due in part to our collective desire to get around during the pandemic and our desire to recreate the flavors of travel while you’re stuck at home.
Another factor: people’s growing sense of freedom to showcase the culinary traditions of their own heritage. V said. “As more chefs, entrepreneurs, and product producers become bolder in their representations—their countries, cultures, and languages—they’re helping to normalize these global flavors,” Sherrie Williams, executive director of the nonprofit Global. Food and Drink Initiative.
Americans drink a lot of coffee: 491 million cups a day, according to the National Coffee Association. We love the smell. We love the mental energy it provides. jittery side effects? Not much.
In fact, a recent Mintel study showed that 37% of American coffee drinkers are concerned about the health effects of all that caffeine. Sure, we could switch to decaf, or quit cold turkey, but now there’s a milder option: low-caffeine coffee, like the cleverly-named Buzz Lite brand.
It is one of many recent products aimed at helping consumers stay sharp without wreaking havoc on their bodies. Tea and other beverages made from yaupon, the only plant native to north america that contains caffeine, offer another low-dose option. Yaupon contains 30% less caffeine than coffee, but it also tastes completely different. “Low-caffeine coffee is the perfect solution for consumers seeking focus and productivity because it is a familiar source of energy,” said Jenny Ziegler, director of food and beverage at Mintel.