Food preferences, like fashion, change with each new generation. Understanding how tastes are changing is important for people in the food industry, the hospitality sector, agricultural, and the consumer packaged goods sector. Because so many sectors are interested in how food preferences are changing, predictions about those preferences abound. George Bernard Shaw once stated, “There is no sincerer love than the love of good food.” It remains to be seen how many of the following the predictions will result in true love.
Regional flavors. Researchers from Oklahoma State University’s Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center (FAPC) predict, “From tried-and-true barbecue sauces and flavorful potato recipes with a twist, food developers are becoming inspired by Kansas City barbecue, Southern Appalachian pimento cheese, Made in Oklahoma salsas and other areas from sea to shining sea. Consumers will see a growing number of their favorite products influenced by local, regional and global tastes.” Whole Foods analysts predict Pacific Ocean regions will have particularly significant impact. They predict, “Culinary inspiration from Asia, Oceania and the western coasts of North and South America may be seen on more menus and retail shelves next year. Tropical fruits such as guava, dragon fruit and passion fruit star in smoothie bowls and beverages, while jackfruit has emerged as a popular meat alternative, and monk fruit extract is making waves as a low-calorie sweetener. Look for products such as guava tropical vinaigrette, pineapple passion fruit sparkling mineral water, mango pudding mix and passion fruit coconut frozen fruit bars in the coming year.”
Plant-based foods. Analysts from Innova Market Insights report, “Forty percent of people across the world said they are trying to be healthier by increasing their consumption of fruits and vegetables. … Thus, brands have been emphasizing the fact that they are plant-based, or that they incorporate fruits and vegetables among other ingredients.” Analysts from global hospitality company Benchmark note, “Meat-avoiders are much plentiful and changing the way chefs approach menu offerings. … More dishes are becoming vegetable-focused, with proteins as the complement, and vegetarian tasting menus are quickly becoming a staple in many accredited establishments.”
Gut-healthy options. FAPC analysts observe, “Studies by medical professionals show a healthy gut is the key to overall wellness, and more than ever before, customers are seeking foods that support self-care and healthy immune systems. Customers will find a rising number of products rich in probiotics and plenty of flavors.” Whole Foods analysts add, “Probiotics have been on the rise for a while, in the form of fermented kimchi and various pickled foods. Now, wellness-focused brands, cleaning products, and beauty brands are trying to cash in on the trend.” Benchmark analysts agree gut-healthy foods are on the rise. “Businesses will expand their lines of fermented foods,” they predict, “to include more kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, tempeh and kefir, as well as carrots and cream, and many other items that will be fermented, cooked and offered to customers.”
Diversified protein. Tyson analysts report, “Since 2014, consumption of beef, chicken, pork and turkey have each been on a steady incline, reaching record highs in 2018 in the U.S. Expect this demand to continue into 2019 as consumers are actively looking to add more protein to their diets.” Also on the rise, according to many sources, is the consumption of insect proteins, veggie meats, and lab-grown proteins. Benchmark analysts note, “Chefs are looking for new sources of protein. Insects appear more and more sensible on many levels. … 80 percent of the world consumes insects [and they are] low in fat and [contain] three to four times as much protein as beef.” They also note a product called “heme” is being developed “to bring a meaty quality to … wheat and potato-protein burger[s].” A lot of study is also going into lab-grown meat, which could have both health and environmental impacts. Here’s the problem: A study by Kadence International found “only 17% of US consumers were familiar with the concept of clean meat.” When presented with the idea, “only 27% … reported they would purchase cultured meat.” Humans, however, are curious and the survey found, “66% of [U.S.] consumers said they would be willing to try the lab-grown protein. In contrast, 75% of consumers in Belgium or the Netherlands said that they would be willing to try the products.”
Hemp-infused foods. With more U.S. states and countries around the world decriminalizing marijuana use, could foods, like those “special brownies” featured in movies to get a good laugh, become mainstream? Don’t count on it. What is predicted to become mainstream are foods infused with cannabidiol (CBD) a cannabis compound claiming to have significant medical benefits, but which cannot make people high. Whole Foods analysts note, “While CBD oil is still technically taboo (prohibited in food, body care and dietary supplements under federal law), retailers, culinary experts and consumers can’t miss the cannabis craze when visiting food industry trade shows, food innovators conferences or even local farmers markets.”
You might be curious why a cognitive computing firm, like Enterra Solutions®, is interested in how taste preferences are changing. The reason is we offer a unique Sensory Identification system that employs an innovative scientific method to create highly accurate data representations of the way an ingredient, product, or recipe tastes and smells. These identifiers are used to precisely target products and recipes to individuals and households whose preferences match these data representations. Our Sensory Identification solutions can ingest survey data, retailer POS, loyalty data, along with ClickStream behavioral data, to create a personalized sensory profile for an individual’s or household’s taste and smell preferences. This provides deep market intelligence that allows CPG manufacturers and marketers to create highly targeted and effective campaigns. That data can be also be used to create an Enterra SensoryMap™. Our SensoryMap solution provides companies an easy-to-understand way to visualize consumption and demand patterns by geography. This way they can know what Americans are eating and what they will prefer to eat in the future. Predictive modeling allows marketers to simulate consumer acceptance by region, proving deep insight and forecasting capabilities. Pre-mapping preferences to geography allows marketers to quickly determine if a product will sell well in each given area. Enterra’s SensoryMap products are available by any number of individual zip codes. They can be augmented with additional data and insights to improve forecasting, enhance target marketing and better align inventories to demand. Bon appetite!
 Tori Lock, “Oklahoma State University announces 2019 food trends,” High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal, 27 November 2018.
 Monica Watrous, “Whole Foods names top 10 trends for 2019,” Food Business News, 15 November 2018 (registration required).
 Jessica Swarner, “Top trends for food and beverage in 2019,” Natural Products Insider, 29 November 2018.
 Loren G. Edelstein, “Top Food Trends for 2019: Alternative Meats, Bugs, Bacteria and Other Tasty Surprises,” Meetings & Conventions, 12 September 2018.
 Kate Taylor, “These 10 trends will decide how we eat in 2019, according to Whole Foods,” Business Insider, 29 November 2018.
 Amanda Radke, “Tyson predicts 6 food trends for 2019,” Beef Magazine, 27 November 2018.
 Jessi Devenyns, “Only 3 in 10 US consumers would buy cultured meat, study finds,” Food Dive, 28 November 2018.
 Taylor, op. cit.