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Restaurant flavors impact retail product trends at the Summer Fancy Food Show

Restaurant flavors impact retail product trends at the Summer Fancy Food Show

What do Belgian waffles, bacon-wrapped mochi and schnitzel have in common? Check out three restaurant trends that may soon make their way to retail shelves.

Schnitzel and spätzle products, miso-flavored condiments and Belgian waffle-inspired goods are just some of the new foods that may soon be flying off retailers' shelves, according to trendologist predictions at the Summer Fancy Food Show, taking place July 10-12 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

Kara Nielsen, trendologist for the San Francisco-based Center for Culinary Development and David Sprinkle, director of research for Rockville, Md.-based market research firm Packaged Facts, presented three emerging food trends ripe for translation in the retail space during an education session Sunday morning.

"We're looking at what's happening in the marketplace," Sprinkle said. "A lot of the trends that are coming from the food world are very populace[-driven]. They're coming literally from the street, from food trucks, bars, cafes and beer gardens."

Using a five-stage trend map, the CCD determines when a trend will be adopted by the general public.

  • In stage one the flavor appears in "foodie" dining establishments, Nielsen explained.
  • Gourmet media and blogs begin covering the trend in stage two. In this stage it may even appear in natural and specialty stores.
  • By stage three, it's embraced by food TV programs and conventional chains such as Applebee's or The Cheesecake Factory.
  • Women's magazines and recipe websites adopt the food in stage four.
  • It isn't until stage five that the trend appears in conventional retail stores at which time it's accepted as "mainstream."

Aioli and açaí are two recent foods to move into stage five. Though both appeared in natural and specialty stores several years ago, it wasn't until this year that the items showed up in conventional stores and, in the case of açaí, on a Wendy's fast food menu. It can take 10 to 15 years for a trend to move through all five stages, Nielsen said.

Three trends entering stages one and two

1. New Old World cuisine
As sustainability efforts increasingly encourage chefs to create head-to-tail menus utilizing the whole hog or cow, sausage and charcuterie have grown in popularity. "Chefs are turning to countries that have a tradition of using these cuts," Nielsen said. "We first saw French and Italian influences, now Germany is in the spotlight. And, what are chefs serving with these sausages? Craft beer, using influences, of course, from Belgium and Germany."

Manufacturers are launching or importing artisan beers and wines, strudel, schnitzel, pretzels and hearty bread products to get in on this trend, Sprinkle said. "Spätzle [a hearty egg noodle] is the new gnocchi."

2. Japanese izakaya
Consumers have an interest in Japanese food beyond sushi, Nielsen said. In Japan, an izakaya is a casual restaurant that offers a wide range of sakes and beers along with small, flavorful plates such as skewered, marinated meats, bacon-wrapped mochi and fried chicken wings. "This restaurant style is growing in popularity in the U.S. because it's different, fun, casual and inexpensive," Nielsen said.

Dumplings, Japanese pickles, agedashi tofu, tempura and products emphasizing miso flavor support this trend and are anticipated to continue gaining traction with consumers.

3. One flavor three ways
Trends can also derive from single flavor profiles, as is the case with speculaas, a European cinnamon-sugar spiced cookie. The treat is now being incorporated into ice cream and popcorn and being used to make a sweet spread that has the consistency of peanut butter. "There's a Belgian waffle shop that opened in San Francisco recently doing Liège waffles with speculaas spread on the waffle and putting it in an ice cream," Nielsen said. "You can start to see how one little item turns into a family of items."

4 new ways of eating

The three trends primarily sprung from consumers' new approach toward eating which Nielsen also highlighted.

  • Everyone's a connoisseur
    "Americans are trying foods from authentic places and making them at home. We're learning about chocolate, coffee, artisan cheese. Connoisseurship is evolving and changing consumers' palates."
  • Good food in a casual setting
    "You may be eating on a paper plate on a street corner, or on a bustling picnic table with sloshing beer glasses, but consumers still expect the food and drink to be authentic—maybe even more so."
  • Small plates
    "The small plate trend is spoiling us, especially members of generation Y that aren't interested in ordering one meal and sticking to it. The days of that giant entrée that you get bored with after about three bites are over."
  • Blending of cultures
    "Consumers look forward to trying different cultures in the same meal. Younger people seek adventure, and all bets are off."
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