Before I came to OSU Extension, I worked as a product development scientist at a large food company. As I look back on those years, it was an exciting job of never-ending learning experiences.
Even a decade later, when I push my grocery cart past one of the products I helped to formulate, I think of the teamwork that made those products a reality. Because for each product launch I witness, there were at least a dozen other products I worked on that never made it to a store shelf.
One exciting time each year was a gathering of all research and development nerds to learn about the latest trends in the food world from restaurants to retail. Information is even more widely available now with the explosion of social media and consumer behavior analytics since then.
There are a wide variety of factors that influence the food purchases we make. For decades the top influencers have been convenience, taste, health and price. Every food company is trying to innovate in these spaces to attract your attention and, hopefully, your wallet. According to Kansas State University Extension, each year there are approximately 15,000 new food products introduced to the marketplace. I’ve seen failure rates of new products estimated anywhere from 70% to 98%.
With the start of a new year, I have been reading through the latest trends and predictions for what we may see heading our way. Now, I am not sure that all these trends will show up in Coshocton necessarily, but it may be fun to see which ones you spot.
A couple of reviews predict the vegetable will rise in importance this year as well as fermented foods and a focus on Asian cuisine. Specifically, a growing interest in Korean pop-culture may mean that Korean flavors may have more of a presence.
A few years ago, it was Latin American flavors. Remember when mango seemed exotic? It was introduced in foods like yogurt paired with a flavor very familiar to us, peach. That is typically how new flavors get introduced – paired with something we know and like. So, it will be interesting to see if some Korean flavors start showing up in more mainstream products paired with things we know – like maybe kimchi instead of sauerkraut on hot dogs.
Portion control may appear in dining out as well as menus with fewer overall choices. This is partly in response to an ever-unpredictable supply chain. Coffee and tea show up in these trend predictions too. There may be a movement for tea to be used in non-traditional ways like in sauces and marinades and desserts. And continuing to add things to coffees is another hot practice. This includes superfood lattes with mix-ins like matcha, turmeric and other “functional” ingredients.
The “What’s Trending in Nutrition” survey from Pollock Communications and Today’s Dietitian listed the top 10 foods that they consider these superfoods in 2022. Include fermented foods, blueberries, seeds (including chia and hemp), exotic fruits, avocado, green tea, nuts , ancient grains, spinach, leafy greens and kale.
With all this new food and nutrition talk, keep one thing in mind. Year after year, registered dietitians top nutrition recommendation is to eat more servings of vegetables per day. Nutrition helps us to survive and thrive. Be sure to focus on the basics first – eating those veggies, limiting foods with added sugars, drinking plenty of water – before investing your money and calories on the new trendy foods heading our way.
Today, I’ll leave you with this quote from Doug Larson, “Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.”
Emily Marrison is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Educator and may be reached at 740-622-2265.