5 food trends for 2019

Consumers are seeking comfort from their food, backing away from exotic, bold and unfamiliar tastes that gained momentum in the recent past.

Suzy Badaracco, President

April 29, 2019

5 Min Read
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Food trends in 2019 will bring a year of comfort, “back to basics” mentality and muted presentation, according to industry experts. The underlying theme of the year will be “familiar on the palate”. These five trends were outlined in the “Shifting Sands: Trends Shaping the Food Industry in 2019” report, which is a cross-analysis of 228 prediction lists for 2019 put forth by 170 industry experts. 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 in the report are anticipated to remain in focus throughout 2019 and into the first quarter of 2020.

1. Grains, fruits and vegetables lose risk-taking momentum

Grains speak to consumers’ desires to explore regional and global cuisines. The grains list had some playful twists with farro, kernza, sorghum, teff, global pasta, heirloom rice and hemp. The single, global and ancient grains, and breads made from them continue to capture media attention and consumer interest with a strong backing from clinical health research. 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 such as the pluot. The vegetables remained humble with most being tied to health research, history and familiarity. No single vegetable is the posterchild this year, but a few show offs include 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.

2. Plant & animal protein continue to diverge

Proteins are approachable and familiar for consumers, but some outliers appeared. Groups of items were mentioned for 2019 including jerky, offal, trash fish, underused meat cuts and bone broth. Seafood came more into focus with seacuterie, octopus and tinned seafood standing out. The animal protein category is unfocused and has no clear posterchild. It opens the category for experimentation and creativity, while maintaining its 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 are so extensive, and beans continue to transition from best friend to leading lady. Consumers desire more protein, flexitarian and vegetarian diets. Since beans are a neutral palate, they move between global cuisines and compete with grains in dishes. Beans are common in all of the popular global cuisines including regional Mexican, South American, Middle Eastern and others. Plant proteins can be divided into two families. The “familiars” include chickpeas, black beans, lentils, chia and tofu. The “experimentals” include water lentils, hemp, adzuki beans and seitan.

3. Cuisines and clusters move back 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 preferences are global and range 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 U.S. Global comfort foods—exotic to Americans, but mainstream in their native countries—is a focus. 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, invasivores, cultured and fermented items, flatbreads, and peasant and marine foods.

4. Desserts replace nostalgia with experimentation

Desserts are experimental compared to other categories. Desired desserts are a mix of centered, calming personalities with a comfort petticoat and more unfamiliar, but global players. Comfort desserts return, but are riding the line between historical/ regional and global classics. French pastries join Middle Eastern booza and Egyptian kanafeh. Asian sweets—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 dresses. Desserts are predicted to be more traditional and historic, but with bolder flavors.

5. Preps and seasonings dress up dishes

Preparation also affects what foods can be offered and what will accompany it on the plate. The most interesting thing about trending cooking techniques is not what the list includes, but what it leaves out. Cooking methods are moving away from live fire and dry heat methods, and now are toned down and mixed with wet cooking methods. Wet cooking methods are associated with troubled times as they are comforting. What is predicted shows a turn toward comfort including pickled, foil packets, sheet pan suppers and house made. Seasonings and sauces have a large presence this year. Spicy, woody, earthy, and savory replaced the extreme flavors from last year. The tones this year are 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. Whether it be XO sauce, Galangal, Bagoong, Zhug, Toum, Tajin or Gausacasa sauce, they are fun, flirty, and offer a strong sense of tradition, roots and place on the plate.


Suzy Badaracco is the President of Culinary Tides Inc. and holds a bachelor of science degree in criminalistics, associate degree in culinary arts, and master of science degree in human nutrition. Badaracco has been trained in military intelligence, chaos theory and predictive analysis techniques, and has been practicing trends intelligence and predictive forecasting for more than 15 years. Using these techniques, she has been able to successfully predict and profile government, technology, adversary and ally, food, flavor, consumer, industry, and health trends. Culinary Tides Inc. helps food industry partners navigate trends by revealing relevant patterns, so they can create products that connect with customers. They specialize in foretelling a trend’s birth and forecasting its trajectory, personality and longevity. The forecast results are used to create entrance, navigation and exit strategies.

About the Author(s)

Suzy Badaracco

President, Culinary Tides

Suzy Badaracco is the president of Culinary Tides Inc. and holds a bachelor’s degree in criminalistics, associate degree in culinary arts, and master’s degree in human nutrition. Badaracco has been trained in military intelligence, chaos theory and predictive analysis techniques, and has been practicing trends intelligence and predictive forecasting for more than 15 years.

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