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Food’s crystal ball

Sometimes it seems there are as many predictions about the future of food as there are ways to prepare and eat it, but it is still fun to think about how the way we eat is changing, what might be coming next and — most important — how that will impact hotel F&B.

I recently received a report from CatchOn, a marketing communications firm with offices in Hong Kong and Shanghai, focused solely on food’s future. Following interviews with chefs, restaurateurs, journalists and others, CatchOn created an extensive list of popular and emerging food trends. Here are five that caught my eye:

1. Forgotten Food

An offshoot of the Slow Food movement, this initiative aims to highlight small-scale, high-quality products “threatened by industrial agriculture, environmental degradation and homogenization.” CatchOn cited U.K. local food store Booths, which has assembled a list of forgotten foods from its area like Manx kippers and unpasteurized Wensleydale cheese.

2. Insects on the menu

At first this struck me as crazy, but why couldn’t bugs become part of more adventurous menus? CatchOn mentioned cricket energy bars from San Francisco-based Chapul and toasted grasshoppers at Carte de Oaxaca in Seattle, and the FAO even has resources about edible insects online.

3. There’s an app for that

Not surprisingly, the list of innovative restaurant apps keeps growing. CatchOn highlighted an app from NoWait, for example, that allows customers to leave their information with a restaurant host and then keeps them posted about how much longer the wait will be for a table.

4. Next-generation culinary tourism

Cooking classes and wine tours are old news, but up-and-coming food-related travel offerings include walking tours of back-alley markets, foraging or hunting with chefs and trips led by food anthropologists.

5. Ingredients on the rise

The list of “hot” foods might be the longest of them all, but CatchOn noted a few that I haven’t seen on other lists, namely fresh kaffir lime leaves (thanks to their incredible aroma and subtle yet distinct flavor), rhubarb (easy to grow and store, not to mention versatile) and sardines (a nutrient-rich choice that doesn’t deplete the food supply chain).

What food predictions would you add to the list? I’m eager to hear about what you see in your own food crystal ball.

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