Culinary Tides, Inc., Tualatin, Ore., released its trends report, which outlines the Top 5 food trends shaping the food industry in 2019.

The report, “Shifting Sands: Trends Shaping the Food Industry in 2019,” is a cross-analysis of 228 prediction lists for 2019 put forth by 170 industry experts. In all, more than 1,700 individual predictions were evaluated for their potential during the coming year, however only well-supported predictions were included in the final report. All trends are anticipated to remain in focus throughout 2019 and into the first quarter of 2020. 

Grains, fruits and vegetables lose risk-taking momentum

Grain trends have ties to consumers’ desires to explore regional and global cuisines. The grains list features playful twists with farro, kernza, sorghum, teff, global pasta, heirloom rice and hemp. Likewise, the most noteworthy fruits were global fruits indicating health, adventure and playfulness, but none of them were wildly experimental – all were familiar and were featured in years past. Jackfruit appeared along with mamey, varietal berries and citrus, tart cherry, persimmon and hybrids like the pluot. The vegetables remained humble with most being tied to health research, history and familiarity. There is no single posterchild this year, but there are a few show offs, including celtuce, mushrooms, roots such as parsnips and cassava, sea greens and tiger nuts. Overall, fruits and vegetables were less extreme, but more approachable than in past years.

Plant and animal protein continue to diverge
The proteins were also more approachable and less extreme, but some outliers appeared. Groups of items mentioned for 2019 include jerky, offal, trash fish, under-used meat cuts and bone broth. Seafood came more into focus with seacuterie, octopus and tined seafood standing out. The animal protein category is unfocused and has no clear posterchild. It opens the category up for experimentation and creativity while maintaining it grounded back drop. Nothing is off the table – anything can be made into jerky, sausage and broth and bycatch fish can have many representatives. Plant proteins were so extensive and beans continue to transition from best friend to leading lady. The familiars include chickpeas, black beans, lentils, chia and tofu. The experimentals include water lentils, hemp, adzuki beans and seitan. 

Cuisines and clusters move backwards to post-recession position

Regional cuisines and clusters translate to how and where a food fits on a plate – it gives food a home, history and voice. The regions mirror the travel and wine sections, but are also tied economics. Cuisines were global and ranged from Cuban, Israeli, Filipino, French and Moroccan to U.S. regional dishes.  Dishes followed suit, but were split between African, Asian, European, Middle Eastern, South American and the United States. Global comfort foods exotic to Americans, but mainstream in their native country was the focus for all. Clusters captured national and global comfort food and items that were popular during the recession and post recovery. That the patterns are showing recent, recycled ideas is a sign of slipping away from confident behaviors. Cluster items included global breakfast, regional BBQ, street food, invasivors, cultured and fermented items, flatbreads, peasant and marine foods.

Desserts replace nostalgia with experimentation

Desserts were experimental compared to other categories. The desserts themselves were a mix of centered, calming personalities with a comfort petticoat and more unfamiliar, but global comfort players. Comfort desserts return, but are riding the line between historical/regional and global classics.  French pastries return, but are joined by Middle Eastern booza and Egyptian kanafeh. Asian sweets such as black sesame ice cream, pandan scented desserts and Thai rolled ice cream joined the playground.  Ice cream is taking center stage with extreme milkshakes, vegan ice cream, upscale soft serve and frozen bars. Naked cakes and regional pies are canvases for creativity while herbs, salt, vegetables and alcohol act as their party dress. Desserts are predicted to be more traditional and historic but with bolder flavors.

Preps and seasonings act as the party dress
Preparation also affects what foods can be offered and what will accompany it on the plate. The most interesting thing about the cooking techniques offered is not what the list includes, but what it leaves out, which is equally important. Cooking methods are moving away from live fire and dry heat methods and are now toned down and mixed in with wet cooking methods associated with troubled times. What is predicted shows a turn toward comfort, including pickled, foil packets, sheet pan suppers and house-made everything. The underlying theme however was “familiar on the palate,” giving seasonings and sauces a large presence this year. Spicy, woody, earthy and savory replaced extreme flavors from last year. The tones this year are more muted and rounder, not as extreme on the palate as demonstrated by tamarind, sumac, rosemary, pandan and basil. Alcohol, charcoal and house-fermented hot sauces were among the more unusual entrants. International spice blends were mentioned from Egypt, Ethiopia, Korea, the Philippines, Argentina and elsewhere.