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Dietary fats regain their place at the table

The tide is turning on the reputation of fat as we begin to understand more about how our bodies actually use and need dietary fat, and realise that low-fat diets may have been working against us, according to Fats and Oils: Culinary Trend Mapping Report by leading market research publisher, Packaged Facts, and the Center for Culinary Development (CCD).

This mindset shift about fat follows the same story arc for carbohydrates. Thanks to fresh science and the well-reinforced lessons about whole grains, consumers are savvier than ever about the notion of good carbs and bad carbs. “We suspect that fats are coming next into the limelight, and the same ‘good fat, bad fat’ consumer filter will be applied,” says Kimberly Egan, CEO of CCD.

What’s fueling the transformation of fat from bad guy to okay-in-moderation companion? Primarily it’s nutritional science that is pushing through new ideas about how our bodies use and metabolise fats. Simultaneously, whole-food enthusiasts are turning to the fats used in pre-industrial times to recapture what they feel is lost goodness, with the nose-to-tail and farm-to-table culinary trends reviving the demand for the farm animal fats that once dominated home and restaurant kitchens, but lost favour in recent decades.

In addition, our constant exploration for new foods and flavours has yielded some tasty finds from other parts of the globe.

All of these drivers are pushing new points of view and new products in the consumer fats and oils category. Fats and Oils: Culinary Trend Mapping Report profiles several hot trends using CCD’s proprietary Trend Mapping methodology, and offers strategic ideas for product development translation:

Stage 1: Ghee — This Indian kitchen staple is regarded as the essence of the holy cow’s milk; it’s believed to have healing qualities and nutritional benefits. A form of clarified butter, ghee not only adds richness to foods, it also has a high smoke point and that makes it ideal for deep frying.

Stage 1: Rice Bran Oil — Rice bran oil is quickly becoming the go-to oil for better fried food. Rice bran oil is extracted from the germ and inner husk of rice kernels, and has been used in many Asian countries and commercially in the US, where it began appearing in packaged food products by the late 1980s. It is now experiencing a surge in home and restaurant kitchens because of its superior nutritional profile and frying capabilities.

Stage 1: Lard & Schmaltz — Many chefs are returning to culinary traditions that got derailed in the early 20th century, when animal fat was demonised and margarine and vegetable oil took over our kitchens. Old-fashioned animal fats like lard and schmaltz are appearing on independent restaurant menus and in recipes for classics like piecrusts and matzo ball soup.

Stage 2: Duck Fat — Traditionalists call it luxurious, hipsters call it awesome. Whatever the superlative, duck fat has long been revered for its cooking uses and delectable flavour, though also shunned by some for its saturated fat. The newest and most surprising assertions about duck fat are that it might not be all that bad for you.

Stage 2: Coconut Oil — Coconut oil got a bad rap in the 1990s thanks to studies that looked at the negative effects of its partially hydrogenated forms. But its reputation is being rehabilitated, thanks in part to a surge in interest in coconut water and coconut milk-based foods and beverages, as well as an uptick in vegan diets and an embrace of natural whole food fats that can help cholesterol levels.

Stage 3: Nut & Seed Oils — Many consumers are embracing the concept of good sources of fat for their diet. In that context, nuts are already rising stars–particularly walnuts and almonds, which have lots of good-for-you vitamins packed alongside monounsaturated fats. Taking that idea one step further, nut oils can provide both variety to eating well and flavour goodness.

Stage 5: Margarine & Spreads — The margarine and butter shelves in our supermarkets are getting pretty crowded these days. Trans fats have vanished and in their place we find “buttery spreads” promoting their lack of cholesterol and in many cases their inclusion of olive oil and omega-3s. Margarine has survived the trans fat controversy and evolved to meet consumer needs yet again, including being easier on the pocketbook during recessionary times when dairy prices continue to rise.

For more information on Fats and Oils: Culinary Trend Mapping Report, visit or

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