Local, Exotic, Pickled: Associations Share 2015 Food Trends

The National Restaurant Association and the Specialty Food Association predict that Greek yogurt will be out, but local, fresh food is definitely in for foodies in 2015.

In case you’re starving for new trends, the food and restaurant industries have you covered.

This week, the National Restaurant Association (NRA) and the Specialty Food Association (SFA) released their lists of food trends to watch in 2015. The trends vary from buzzworthy (locavore!) to offbeat (cricket flour?).

NRA relied on results from a survey of 1,300 professional chefs to highlight trends in food, drink, and hospitality.

“As consumers today increasingly incorporate restaurants into their daily lives, they want to be able to follow their personal preferences and philosophies no matter where or how they choose to dine,” Hudson Riehle, NRA senior vice president of research, said in a statement. “So, it’s only natural that culinary themes like local sourcing, sustainability, and nutrition top our list of menu trends for 2015. Those concepts are wider lifestyle choices for many Americans in other aspects of their lives that also translate into the food space.”

Highlights from NRA’s “What’s Hot” annual forecast:

Local, local, local! The hyperlocal trend is nothing new, but the nature of local is changing. Now, cooks are making traditionally manufactured products, such as ice cream and beer, on premises and from scratch. Talk about homemade.

Pickles rock: Describing pickled cucumbers as “the Throwback Thursday of food trends,” NRA notes that pickling and fermenting are making a modern-day comeback, with an in-house pickling process, nontraditional veggies, and specialty vinegars high on the list.

Peace out, Greek yogurt: All trends must come to a close. On NRA’s list, that includes recent “bread winners” like cronuts, gluten-free food (OK, maybe not a “bread” winner per se), and Greek yogurt. The heat is off on these cooking classics.

More Special Than Ever

The Specialty Foods Association, meanwhile, has its eye on some more specific food trends for 2015, based on predictions from the editors of its newsletter, Specialty Food News. Local food is high on this list, too, but no two ingredients are the same.

“Food producers are tapping into the growing sophistication and buying power of today’s consumers,” editor Denise Purcell said in a statement. “They are catering to new demands for better ingredients, sustainable packaging, and more convenient ways to shop and eat.”

Some highlights from its list:

Offbeat protein sources: Who needs pork, chicken, and beef? Increasingly, the association says, people are looking for new ways to get protein into their diets, including plant-based proteins and cricket flour—the latter being exactly what it sounds like.

Marijuana as an ingredient: With Colorado’s legalization of marijuana sales opening up the way people consume THC, new food products are expanding the definition of “edibles.” Some companies are even selling marijuana-laced soft drinks.

Fresh food delivery: Thanks to services like Instacart and AmazonFresh, food delivery is becoming friendlier to perishables.

What are you looking forward to in food trends? Share in the comments.

Pickles are making a comeback in 2015. (iStock/Thinkstock)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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