At the end of every year, it’s nice to look back on everything that happened, not only in our own lives but as a whole. This upcoming year is extra special because it marks the end of a decade! A lot can happen in 10 years, particularly when it comes to cultural trends.
There’s always been an ebb and flow to trends. They come and go, while a few stick around for the long run. Over the past decade, there have been many interesting trends in the food industry. Nowadays, people are much more health conscious and focused on the environment, particularly sustainability. These trends definitely reflect that. But don’t worry, there are a few fun ones too!
Let’s reflect back on some of the biggest food trends of the past decade…
No surprise here! Native to south-central Mexico, avocados are one of the biggest and most popular food trend of the past decade. Previously known as the alligator pear, avocados aren’t new by any means, but ever since 2016, avocados have gone from being just another fruit to a cultural icon!
Much of their fame stems from the fact that they are healthy. Avocados contain lots of healthy fats, fiber, and vitamins, and have been known to help with blood sugar, heart health, and osteoarthritis. Plus, they’re delicious and super versatile! They can be made into a spread (hello, avocado toast!), dip, or used as a topping on burgers, salads, and sandwiches — the options are endless! In a culture where people are much more health-conscious, avocados fit right in.
2. Plant-Based Meat
One of the most recent food trends here is the plant-based meat industry which has blown up in 2019 thanks to the launch of brands like Beyond Meat. Vegetarian options have always been around, but until now, they were never able to craft a plant-based burger that actually tasted, cooked, and looked like meat. This opens up a whole new world that is appealing even to long-time meat eaters.
This trend isn’t going anywhere anytime and traditional food processing companies know it. That’s why they’re all jumping on board. Popular food chains like Tim Hortons, Subway, A&W, and Burger King all offer plant-based meat options. soon because let’s face it, it’s the most sustainable option for our planet. According to Business Insider, the plant-based protein industry is worth $14 billion dollars and is expected to grow to $140 billion.
3. Pumpkin Spice
Every year when September rolls around the shelves at the grocery store fill up with everything pumpkin spice. This food trend started not long after Starbucks introduced their now famous pumpkin spice latte back in 2003. It’s now become somewhat of a cultural phenomenon. Starbucks has sold hundreds of millions of pumpkin spice lattes, also dubbed PSL.
Due to its ever-growing popularity, many other brands jumped on board and began selling pumpkin spice-flavored drinks (including alcoholic beverages), desserts, candle fragrence, dog treats, donuts, salsa, and even pumpkin spice-flavored sausage and cheese! According to Nielsen’s data, the annual sale of pumpkin spice products in 2018 totalled nearly $500 million.
4. Unicorn Flavor
We’re not quite sure how this mythical creature became a flavor, but somehow, it has. Similar to pumpkin spice, we can likely trace this food trend back to when Starbucks introduced the “unicorn Frappuccino,” a bright and colorful drink that was often bought due to its photogenic appearance.
Not long after unicorn food made its debut. This food trend likely only took off due to social media and the fact that unicorn-colored food is so aesthetically appealing. Whether it actually tastes good is still up for debate! The New York Times describes unicorn food as “any food jazzed up with dye or cute accessories like fruit cut into little shapes or mountains of pastel marshmallows.” If a restaurant is overly committed, they might even add things like a horn, mane, and ears made from sugar.
5. Milk Alternatives
Before there were meat alternatives, there were milk alternatives. This trend follows in the same footsteps as meat alternatives because it’s evolved for the same reason — people are moving toward a more plant-based diet. And it’s more than just people who are vegan or vegetarian. A lot of meat eaters (like myself) aren’t interested in drinking dairy milk.
In fact, Forbes points out that dairy milk has been on the decline for decades and plant-based alternatives are sweeping in. In its place comes the dairy alternative market which was estimated to be worth $11.9 billion in 2017.
It could also be due to the rise of lactose allergies and vegan dieters, either way, there’s no denying that milk alternatives have become a trend of this decade.
Mayochup is a creation crafted by Heinz that combines ketchup and mayonnaise. It’s been around for a few years now. It was released to select retailers back in 2012 and was launched across America in 2018, and in 2019 it’s now available in Canada.
While you might think this combination is disgusting, there seem to be more people who love it than those who hate it. In fact, before Heinz released a bottled version, people were combining the two condiments on their own to create a Russian dressing.
Another trendy health food is kale. In 2013, kale was the ‘it’ food. It’s still a popular choice for salads and snacks today, but when this dark, leafy green vegetable was first introduced, everyone took it very seriously. The US Department of Agriculture reported that farm production of kale in the US grew 60 percent between 2007 and 2012.
Kale has been used in everything from salads to chips, but things seem to be cooling down. It’s not as popular as it once was, however as a dark, leafy green staple — kale isn’t going anywhere. Instead, we predict it will continue to lose its luster and once again become just another vegetable.
Like many of the other foods on this list, quinoa rose to fame due to its health benefits. It was touted as a healthy alternative to starchy sides like rice and potatoes. And again, even though it’s recently become “trendy,” quinoa is nothing new. It was an important crop for the Inca Empire and enjoyed by South Americans ever since. Despite this, in the past decade, quinoa seems to have grown in popularity in North America.
Today, quinoa is advertised as a superfood or popular health food which isn’t incorrect. It’s packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and it’s gluten-free. As it’s grown in popularity, so has its versatility. Instead of just being a side dish, you can now find quinoa in salads, burritos, bread, muffins, and crackers, and there are even quinoa burgers!
9. CBD Infused Products
When it comes to marijuana, things have most definitely changed a lot in the past decade. This drug has now become legal in several different states in America and all of Canada. As a result, there has been a rise in CBD-infused products. But we’re not just talking edibles and brownies, we’re talking a wide range of foods from baked goods to ice cream and even sparkling water that is infused with cannabidiol, the non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
CBD doesn’t get a person high, but it does come from either marijuana or hemp plants. The reason so many people are using CBD is because it’s long been touted for it’s ability to ease chronic pain, reduce anxiety, insomnia, and other afflictions. While major brands have yet to jump on board, companies like Coca-Cola and Ben & Jerry’s have already stated they’ll launch CBD-infused products when they can. For now, a BDS Analytics report estimates this industry to reach over $4 billion by 2022.
Kombucha is part of the growing fermented food trend in the United States. This fermented beverage is sweetened fermented tea with SCOBY (symbiotic cultures of bacteria and yeast). You can find this drink everywhere from the grocery store to restaurants and cafes.
While it’s actually quite expensive, sitting at around $4 to $6 per 16-ounce bottle, the reason people are willing to fork over the money is because of the supposed health benefits. This drink is touted as being good for digestion due to the fact that it contains probiotics, weight loss, and even prevents diseases like cancer. However, according to a 2019 review published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, a lot of the research was conducted on animals, not humans. However, kombucha does contain probiotics, live bacteria that are good for the digestive system.
Another super healthy food trend that emerged in the past decade is the potent antioxidant known as turmeric. This colorful spice is being added to everything from lattes to soups, and as a seasoning on roasted veggies. Even Starbucks launched their own version of this spicy drink! People love this spice because it adds color when cooking, boosts flavor and provides amazing health benefits.
The main benefit of turmeric is that its main active ingredient is marketed as an anti-inflammatory supplement. “Research suggests that the anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin may help relieve arthritis and can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s,” says Natalie Rizzo, registered dietitian when talking to HuffPost.
The past decade has been a great time for vegetables. The last vegetable to be featured on this list is cauliflower. Where on earth did this trend come from? Well, it stems from the fact that cauliflower is so versatile. There was a huge surge in people avoiding gluten (and it continues today) not just because of an allergy, but due to the fact that many people see it as unhealthy. As a result, people were looking for alternatives to grains. In comes cauliflower.
This rather bland veggie began to rise in popularity about six or seven years ago when people realized how versatile it was. We can use it as a replacement for dough and make pizza more healthy by creating a cauliflower crust. It has also been used as an alternative for rice and potatoes. For example, there is no such thing as cauliflower mashed potato or rice. The most inventive is cauliflower buffalo wings which are essentially just cooked cauliflower, tossed in a buffalo sauce. Yum!
13. Edible Insects
You’re first reaction might be “yuck!” but there’s no denying the edible insect industry is on the rise. Today, there is such thing as protein bars, pasta, cooking powder, and even chips that are made out of edible insects, most often crickets. Roughly 60-percent of the business is driven by cricket powder right now. This is a dry substance that can be added to bread, soups, and baked goods.
So why is this trend even a thing? Well, according to USA Today, it started a few years ago when chefs began experimenting with flavors. Then, in 2013 the United Nations published a report on how edible insects could be a viable option to help feed the world’s growing population because they are not only healthy but also environmentally friendly. Raising insects requires less water, food, and space than livestock. This means fewer greenhouse gasses.
Today, there’s a huge movement towards being more healthy and eco-conscious, particularly with foods. As a result, millennial-driven start-ups, family farms, and investors have begun jumping on board this trend.
Back in the day, a taco was just a taco. Fast food restaurants like Taco Bell and local Mexican restaurants were around, but not unusually popular. Nowadays, tacos are like their own food group! People are obsessed with tacos and burritos.
Restaurants are loving it because they can experiment with different versions and toppings. Nearly every restaurant has some version of a taco on their menu either as an appetizer or meal. Instead of just a regular taco, this food has become gourmet. Heck, there are even whole restaurants dedicated to making tacos and burritos!
If you’re not a fan of spicy food, then you probably don’t like sriracha. If that’s the case, then you’re also the minority because this fiery hot sauce has exploded in popularity in the last decade. It’s become so popular, that you can even buy little mini sriracha to go on your key chain so that you never have to experience bland food again!
It began as a product of Huy Fong Foods in the early 1980s, but thanks to the rise of sriracha in America, this food company has become one of the fastest-growing food producers in the country. It sells millions of bottles every year. Unlike some of the other trends on this list, we don’t see this one going anywhere, anytime soon.