Organic Food Trend Predictions for 2013

Posted on Jan 3, 2013 in Health & Wellness

In a report released by restaurant consultant group Baum & Whiteman, the group announced some of its food trend predictions for 2013. While their predictions mostly apply to many of the foods we’d like to see disappear (like “bundling” bargain 2-for-1 dinners at chain restaurants like TGIFriday’s and Chili’s, and more junk-food snacking), there were a few healthy trends worthy of noting:

Another Chipotle?: The fast-casual Mexican inspired restaurant chain has been growing leaps and bounds in recent years. Chipotle has earned praise for its commitment to locally grown produce (sourced within 250 miles of each location) and a commitment to healthier meat and dairy options that are nitrite and antibiotic-free. PETA2, the youth division of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals just gave the chain its “Libby” award (as in “animal liberation”) for being the Best Vegan-Friendly Restaurant Chain in America. According to Baum & Whiteman, other chains are following suit, but need to make sure they capitalize on more than just comfy décor and made-to-order food: “Fast-Cas needs to wear its heart on its sleeve … incorporating not just value, but values. It needs a back-story. Making personal connections with customers is key: What should they know about your food?; how can you express it?; what do you mean by “transparency?”; where does your bacon come from? … what’s your position on sustainability, on recycling, carbon footprint, food miles, genetic modification, gay marriage?” Chipotle’s commitments are proving fast and yummy food can be done sustainably and we’re hopeful more restaurants find that to be true as well.

The rise of the leafy greens: Baum & Whiteman also reports on the rise of the leafy green vegetables in mainstream dining. While a staple in the healthy food arena, leafy greens like kale and chard are now starting to find a place in more common meals like atop burgers. Seaweed is also finding more applications than around the sushi roll, too, being added to crackers, bread, butter, even breakfast cereal.

Kale toppers are one of 2013's new food trends

Other food trends you’ll see in 2013:

Local/seasonal: The market for local and seasonal foods is continuing to boom. Look for more restaurants to adopt seasonal rotating menus that highlight locally grown fruits and vegetables. And the local DIY food culture is rising too: preserves, pickles and krauts and other foods made with locally sourced ingredients are taking top shelf and center plate across the country.

Single ingredients: That locally-raised produce is so much more flavorful than the imported stuff sitting in a refrigerated truck for a week that you’ll also start to see more single ingredient items such as roasted carrots, grilled asparagus, and poached fruits on menus.

GMO-free: California’s Proposition 37 failed at the ballots, but it’s winning at the table. With consumer education on the issues with GMOs at an all-time high and growing, we’ll see lots of companies highlighting their GMO-free status. And for those that don’t disclose (or eliminate) GMO ingredients, consumers are taking that responsibility on themselves, downloading labels and placing them on suspect products.

Tea: New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg has banned all sodas and sugary soft-drinks over 20 ounces from the city’s restaurants and convenience stores as well as theaters in his effort to combat the city’s growing obesity epidemic. And we’re hopeful more cities will also follow suit. With soda no longer cool (even the diet stuff), look for more artisanal tea blends and brews, unsweetened, of course.

Sources: http://www.baumwhiteman.com/2013trends.pdf and Naturally Savvy article by Jill Ettinger.