Middle Eastern Fare Tops MSLGROUP’s Food Trends List for 2014

By | February 3rd, 2014

MSLGROUP has released its annual list of top U.S. food trends and predictions for 2014. Middle Eastern foods, wood-fired cooking and an increase in beans top the list.

For 2013, the specialized North America food PR and marketing team correctly predicted the expansion of single-cup and ready-to-drink coffee innovations, an exploding interest in high-protein foods, and consumer demand for transparent food labeling.

“Many of this year’s top food trends have to do with new ways in which companies will engage shoppers, both online and offline,” said Steve Bryant, Director, North America Food & Beverage, MSLGROUP. “Of course, we expect continued growth in mobile communications. But retailers are also seeking to modernize offline engagement, staffing registered dietitians to help shoppers make healthy purchases and expanding in-store food service offerings, like cafes and food courts.”

As for this year’s ingredient and flavor trends, Joy Blakeslee, the registered dietitian who directs the MSLGROUP’s North America Culinary & Nutrition Center, said they’ll be driven by health-conscious consumers.

“Shoppers are really interested in things like portion control and satiety. As a result, we expect to see more protein-rich and savory fare this year, including the rise of Middle Eastern cuisine, beans and other legumes,” said Blakeslee.

MSLGROUP’s Top 10 U.S. Food Trends for 2014 are:

1)  Middle Eastern Fare — Traditional Middle Eastern dishes will see a boost in popularity, while Middle Eastern spices, such as sumac, za’atar and marash, will be used to expand the flavor profile of other ethnic foods, including Mediterranean cuisine.

2)  Wood-Fired Cooking — This organic, back-to-nature method began with pizzerias but will expand as on-trend restaurants build kitchens with wood-fired ovens front and center.

3)  Beans — Rich in protein and naturally gluten-free, beans have worked their way into chips, crackers, dips and snacks. As Americans embrace meat alternatives and trends like “Meatless Monday,” expect to see more beans and other legumes, including edamame, white beans, black beans, red lentils and yellow lentils.

4)  Savory Dessert — Opposites will attract as we see the emergence of sweet and savory desserts, featuring intense flavors and even a dash of spice.

5)   Wine — Consumers ages 21-34 drink more wine than any other demographic. They’ll make up 40 percent of the population over the next few years, so the popularity of wine is expected to rise for years to come.

6) The Supermarket Dietitian — Many stores will begin staffing in-store dietitians to help shoppers make healthy purchases or cater to specific dietary needs.

7) Portion Control — Food manufacturers will make portion control a top priority, offering smaller versions of favorite foods and encouraging consumers to follow dietary guidelines.

8)  Supermarket Happy Hour in Aisle 4 — Grocers will expand food service offerings, dedicating more retail space to cafes and food courts and even offering happy hours and beers on tap.

9)  Foodies on Smartphones — Companies will continue to cater to smartphone-wielding foodies, offering more bite-sized content, including recipes and cooking demos delivered via mobile devices. In addition to using smartphones to choose a restaurant, reserve a table and share the experience, more diners will analyze the nutrition of the meal and pay the check.

10)  Savvy Shoppers — Shoppers will increasingly expect special offers and discounts delivered to their fingertips via social networks.

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