The Sterling-Rice Group (SRG), Boulder, Colo., identifies the top culinary trends that will stand out on menus and expand into grocery shelves.

The “Culinary Trends Report for 2019” report identifies flavors, ingredients and even technological advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and farming as components of the wave of dining and eating influences. It also cites a growing interest in food as a health, wellness and beauty partner. SRG's report was compiled by the agency's culinary director Liz Moskow and SRG’s culinary team from over 175 food experts, sociologists, chefs, nutritionists and other trend-spotters.

"The thread that ties all the new flavors, ingredients and market forces together is how our desire to improve all aspects of the human experience is profoundly influencing the foods we will be eating well into 2019," says Moskow. "We are also seeing extreme diet protocols from keto to paleo and more, giving consumers permission to eat things that were previously considered bad for you. This gives full fat dairy and other foods a seat at the table."

Some other trends to come in 2019 are:

  • Butter is the new bacon. Fat Bombs are the new antidote to hunger and ketosis. And, butter now appears on restaurant menus at an all-time high of 64%.
  • Bitter is the new sweet. Sugar aversion has given rise to bitter as the flavor of choice – menu references to bitter have increased more than 22% in the past four years and are projected to grow over 18% in the next four.
  • Lettuce is going beyond the salad bowl and into fresh-pressed juice with exotic new varieties and hydroponically grown lettuces being called out by name on menus.
  • Rooted and ravishing. The plant-based revolution has taken hold with diners hungry for hearty veggie-centric main dish options with vegetables like cassava, Japanese yams, parsnips, jicama and even the classic white potato served up in new forms.
  • Data mining dining. AI is the hot dish being served up in the food industry now. Technology is being leveraged to foresee food and flavor trends happening in real-time. Tech companies are employing machine learning to support new product and menu development to pinpoint ever-changing consumer preferences as they happen.

"SRG has built its business on helping our clients leverage changing food and dining trends to bring fresh new offerings to their consumers," says Cindy Judge, chief executive officer. "With insights like these to help guide our innovation process, we have been able to deliver over $10 billion in new revenue to our clients over the past five years."