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Recapping 2018 and Looking Toward 2019 Trends

By: Stephanie Ganz of The Apple Cart

Recapping 2018 and Looking Toward 2019 Trends2018 Asian Island Cuisine
It started with poke bowls, and the demand for cuisine from islands like the Philippines and Hawaii continued to climb throughout 2018. Dishes like adobo and bagoong found their places on menus, and entire restaurant concepts cropped up to showcase the bright, sour, sweet, funky flavors of these tropical locales.

2019 International Breakfast
In an effort to go beyond eggs and bacon, restaurants are pulling inspiration from their travels and looking at international breakfast foods. Middle Eastern and Korean influences are especially finding an audience with dishes like shakshuka and riffs on bulgogi becoming more common on breakfast and brunch menus.

2018 Alternative Proteins and Plant-Based Foods
As we predicted last year, alternative proteins and plant-based foods were an area of focus for consumers, with products like the ‘bleeding’ Impossible Burger popping up on restaurant menus across the country and similar products like the Beyond Burger grabbing retail space. As issues around sustainability become more commonly understood, this trend is poised to get even more attention and mainstream acceptance.

2019 Transparent Labeling
After food safety scares, consumers are increasingly voicing an interest in transparent labeling and sourcing. Consumer confidence is becoming linked to an ability to know exactly where a product comes from, when, and what’s in it. For now, much of this type of labeling is at the discretion of the producer, but the demand is growing to the point where producers who choose not to share that information may be pushed out of the marketplace by their more transparent competitors.

2018 Instagrammable Dishes
Specialty food producers and restaurants realized in 2018 that creating an Instagram-worthy food or dish could attract a huge foodie following. It seemed everyone was in search of the next cronut, and with good reason. So-called social media influencers have big sway when it comes to who gets noticed, and it’s the ones with the memorable meals that make it to the top of the list.

2019 Instagrammable Spaces
If what was on the plate was the focus last year, it’s the entire setting that’s getting attention in 2019. Big, bold wallpaper and murals that beg for selfies are becoming standard fixtures of the hot new places to see and be seen. Think wallpaper with monstera leaves and unique, commissioned works of art. It’s not enough to put art on the plate these days; it needs to follow the guest into the bathroom because, yes, they’ll be taking pictures there too.

Recapping 2018 and Looking Toward 2019 Trends2018 Tahini
That salty, nutty sesame paste was a darling ingredient this year, finding success in both sweet and savory applications. Hummus, yes; but also pairings of sesame and chocolate, like the classic combination of peanut butter & chocolate, all grown up.

2019 Timut Pepper
Similar to Szechuan peppercorn, Timut Pepper is a Himalayan spice with a fruity, floral flavor and a surprising, tingly analgesic property. Look for it everywhere from soups to chutneys to cocktails, as chefs and bartenders use it to awaken and surprise the palate.

2018 Matcha
Consumers were seeing green in 2018 with the addition of matcha, a powdered green tea, in everything from lattes to cheesecakes. The nutrient-rich tea brought bold green color to any item it appeared in, making it the perfect subject for Instagram influencers to share with their followers.

2019 Ube
Hailing from the Philippines (and further evidence of our first 2018 food trend above), ube is a purple sweet potato that is traditionally mixed with sweetened condensed milk to make a dessert. Its bright purple hue has made it attractive to bakers in search of the next new ‘it’ thing, and you’ll see it more on menus—in things like cheesecake, donuts, and ice cream—in 2019.

Contributed by: Stephanie Ganz. Stephanie is the co-owner of The Apple Cart, a Richmond, VA-based company that helps food businesses start and grow.