Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Hot New Food Trends for 2019


I’m always excited about the start of a brand New Year, new resolutions, new opportunities, new challenges, lots of fun. So what might be coming down the line in 2019, what do we think is hot and what’s not?

Trends are notoriously volatile but in any business, it’s super important to keep an eye on the indications relevant to your area, analyse them but beware of following them slavishly.

In my business, keeping an eye on what’s happening on the food, farming and beverage scene is essential to staying on the cutting edge and attracting both customers and students from all around the world to Ballymaloe and Ireland.


I travel quite a bit. In 2018 I travelled to China and the US…New York, Florida, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles... Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Paris, Turin, London... Food is my subject and so I consider travel to be a vital element in my research. Everywhere I go, I meet artisan producers, farmers, fishermen, cheesemakers, visit Farmers Markets, seek out food trucks, taste street food and eat in a wide variety of cafes, neighbourhood restaurants, and fine dining establishments. I keep my eyes and ears open, ask lots of questions, take lots of photos and lots of notes.

So, here are some of my predictions for food trends in 2019 based on my observations …


The ‘clean eating fad’ it seems, is waning but has been partly subsumed into the vegan food movement. The number of people choosing a plant based or vegan diet continues to grow exponentially. Countless others are becoming flexitarians and are choosing to eat less meat and are actively seeking meat and poultry that has been ethically and humanely reared. Meat-free days are on the increase and multiple restaurants are now offering an optional Meat-Free Monday menu. Believe me this ‘meat-free movement’, now linked to climate change, is no ‘flash in the pan’. Pasture-raised is the buzz word here, rotating animals through lush grasslands can dramatically improve their health, the health of the soil, trapping CO2 in the soil where it belongs, helping with water reduction and reducing erosion – good news for Ireland.


We are edging ever closer to lab-grown meats becoming mainstream. Jaw-dropping amounts of money have been invested in ‘motherless meat’ in the past couple of decades. The Impossible Burger is now a reality, it can even bleed like a real burger if carefully cooked, however the jury is still out on the flavour. I’ve tasted three different versions of what are described as ‘insanely delicious’ plant based burgers and I’m here to tell you that ‘insanely delicious’ they are not, despite the considerable hype to the contrary. Look out for sushi grade ‘not tuna’- made from tomatoes… It’ll be interesting to watch this space, a phenomenal investment has already been sunk into this plant-based burger…

Expect to see more shopper support and shopping brands committed to good animal welfare practices and environmental stewardship. Businesses and farms that support programs to relieve poverty throughout the world are also influencing consumers and have become a definite global trend. Mindful choices, ‘waste not want not’, is a growing preoccupation, consequently some supermarkets are now selling ugly and misshapen but perfectly delicious and nutritious fruit and vegetables at a lower price point.
There’s a growing annoyance among consumers about the excess packaging they are forced to accept. There is a definite awareness of the damage that plastic is doing to our oceans and planet and that it is gradually leaching into our food. We will see an increase in more eco conscious packaging, single use plastic is being replaced by multi-use and compostable. We are all addicted to plastic so it will be a difficult habit to break. B.Y.O.V.B (bring your own vegetable bag) and coffee cup are becoming the norm. Waxed canvas or silicone alternatives for sandwiches and snacks is a significant growth area for manufacturers.

A growing body of research confirms that all disease starts in the gut… The realisation that both our physical and mental wellbeing depend on the health of our gut biome has prompted a huge increase in the number of probiotic foods that contain gut friendly bacteria to improve the immune system. Even granola bars, nut butters and soups are fortified but my advice is to eat real food, seek out raw milk, raw butter, good natural yoghurt, original cheeses, organic vegetables….and ditch ultra-processed food altogether.
Gut awareness continues to drive the interest in fermentation. Cool restaurants and hotels are serving house made kefirs, kombucha, kvass, drinking vinegars, sauerkraut, kimchi and other fermented foods. Bone broths are also having a tremendous revival, a very welcome trend.

Nootropics – brain food is coming to the fore, Crickets and other insects, (a ‘new’ inexpensive source of protein) are being added to processed foods.
In the US dietitians are becoming celebrities as the health crisis deepens and the rise in obesity, type 2 diabetes and autoimmune disease continue to increase at an alarming rate. We are moving towards more personalised food experience. Once again let's eat real, chemical-free food rather than ‘edible food-like substances’ that are unquestionably fuelling the health crisis. In the world of medicine, young doctors are calling for training in nutrition to equip them with the necessary knowledge to advise their patients on diet.

At last some good news for farmers and food producers, new routes to market have been developed where consumers / members order their food on-line, not from the supermarket, but directly from the farmer or food producer who gets 80% of the retail price as opposed to 25-35% through the current retail system. Farmdrop in the UK www.farmdrop.com  is a brilliant example as is NeighbourFood launched in Cork city in late November. It’s already increasing  membership and producers week by week – a very welcome development, check it out on www.neighbourfood.ie

On the global restaurant scene, molecular gastronomy appears to have peaked, top chefs are moving away from using spheres and extreme molecular elements and are putting down their paint brushes and tweezers and chucking out their palette knives – I’m told smears on plates and skid marks are out… It seems like growing numbers are annoyed by the favouritism shown by restaurant critics to avant-garde molecular food. More diners would like to see restaurants concentrating on flavour and not overly complicating dishes, just to make them look pretty. Apparently we’re also over frilly foliage and limp pea shoots but lots of edible flower petals are still in evidence. Small plates are a definite trend.


In the US, UK and several other countries, more people are eating at home, the millennials are cooking again. How cool is that? If you’re not convinced, pay a trip to a Farmers Market here in Ireland, London, New York or the Flea Market in Dublin and watch the action. Farm to Table and Root to Shoot eating continues to gather momentum and drive purchases. Urban vertical indoor farming in cities is exploding, reducing expensive and environmental impact. Amazon’s takeover of Wholefoods in the US is having a profound impact on retail. There are greenhouses on supermarket rooftops in Japan, talk of being able to pick your own tomatoes straight from the vine when shopping…. And Bill Gates has bought 25,000 acres to develop a new ‘smart city’ from the ground up.

Whether we like it or not, increased automation is coming our way – and fast. Robots are already making pizza in France and coffee in San Francisco. They are taking orders and delivering room service. Hotel employees are becoming increasingly concerned about their new rivals – certainly not good news for the job market. Smart fridges that will automatically replenish when you are out of the branded products you can’t live without, are already a reality. There is every conceivable type of meal kit and ready meal….Home delivery of restaurant meals, soon by drone rather than bike, it’s a brave new world out there…



Hot Ingredients
1.    Chefs and home cooks are becoming more adventurous with chilli pepper flakes, Aleppo Pepper or Pul Biber, Piment d’Espelette, Timut pepper from Nepal and Korean Gochugaru.
2.    
    Bitter greens of all kinds are on the best menus, Radichios, Chicory, Sorrell, Tardivo Dandelion leaves... Amaranth is the new Kale…

3.    Marine Munchies –Seaweed and sea vegetables, all more nutritious than anything on land and intriguingly delicious – dried seaweed sprinkles, kelp noodles, samphire, dillisk soda bread... Dillisk has three times the nutritional value of kale.

4.    More unusual herbs, Lovage, Claytonia, Hyssop, Shiso
Wild and foraged, Pennywort, Purslane, Winter Cress, Tagetes, Ground Elder, Chickweed….
5.    Artisan Bakeries - Real natural sourdough fermented for at least 24 hours, better still 48 hours, made with flour from heritage grains.
6.    Specialist Teas – Tea bars are springing up serving exquisite (and super expensive) teas like we can’t imagine, Pu-erh tea has changed my life. Check out a little Taiwanese tea bar in New York called Té on 10th Street. There are even tea cocktails now.
7.    Good fats are back, not just butter but ghee from grass-fed cows, organic pork lard, goose and duck fat…
8.    Argan oil and MCT oil
9.    Organic raw milk and raw butter ($19.99 a pound in San Francisco) much more nutrient dense and delicious.
10.   Puffed and popped snacks - organic popcorn with many flavours, sweet and savoury.
11.     Faux meat snacks, a big trend… Yuck!
12.     Alcohol-free spirits, booze-free cocktails, flavoured whiskeys, artisan gins, beers and ciders…
13.     Natural wines and organic wines are a particularly welcome trend for those who can no longer drink the chemical-laden cheap wines.
14.    Hemp-derived products are exploding…
15.    Doughnuts are still huge in every sense of the word, remember the excitement when Krispy Kreme opened in Dublin…
16.    We’ll see more African flavours, in particular Ethiopian food
17.    Flavours of the Pacific Rim (Asia, Oceanica and the Western coasts of North and South America) are also a strong trend so stock up on fish sauce, wasabi, lemongrass, star anise, pandan leaves, black sesame, soy sauce...
18.  Mushrooms, particularly the wild varieties are naturally rich in umami flavours so are being used in ever more creative ways to create ‘a meaty bite’.
19.  Pulses (peas, beans and lentils) are really having their moment, an important and inexpensive source of protein, there’s a growing choice of pulse-based snacks.
20.    Dried, pickled and smoked foods are ever more evident - smoked butter, salt, chill flakes, garlic, potatoes, carrots, black pudding – even porridge…
21.     Riced and diced as a carb substitute…cauliflower, Romanesco, broccoli…
22.   Stracciatella is everywhere, where can we get it here? – https://www.toonsbridgedairy.com/ .
23.   Cold brew coffee – nitro coffee…

That's just a taste of what's hot and what's emerging in 2019.

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