100 Things to Watch in 2014

JWT’s 100 Things to Watch in 2014

Edible packaging, savoury yoghurt, babyfood home deliveries, tofu as fast food – these are some of the food-related items from JWTIntelligence’s annual list of 100 Things to Watch for the year ahead, a report that always delivers fascinating and accurate insights, and is one of the best annual Trends reads.

This is a wide-ranging annual compilation that reflects developments that are bubbling up across sectors, including tech tools and devices, food and beverage trends, new types of business, new behaviours to watch and ideas with the potential to ladder up to bigger trends.

On the food front…

Deconstructed Dinners:  Targeting busy would-be chefs, various services are delivering dinner kits that provide all the ingredients, in just the right amounts, to make gourmet meals at home. An emerging trend in the US, Europe and Australia, watch for more of these services to launch.

Demonising food dyes:  The list of ingredients that consumers are trying to avoid is getting longer and longer and now add to the list synthetic food dyes, lined with hyperactivity in children among other things.

Edible Packaging:  To make their goods more sustainable, marketers are harnessing new technologies to create edible wrappers. The Bob’s Burger Chain in Brazil now serves its burgers in packaging you can eat, while LA-based ice cream truck brand, Coolhaus, wraps ice cream sandwiches in edible material. Then there’s also the much publicised WikiPearls.

Fast food tofu:  With diners growing more inclined to cut down on meat, we’ll see fast food restaurants add alternative proteins like tofu to their menus.

Homemade baby food delivery:  Leveraging the trend of parents making their own baby food, a crop of relatively new services deliver refrigerated homemade food on a weekly basis for parents who like the idea but lack the time to make health purees, blends and snacks for their infants and toddlers.

Savoury yoghurt:  Yoghurt complements savoury flavours just as well as the typical sweet, especially tart Greek yoghurt. New York City is home to many such offerings.

Stealth health:  Some restaurant chains are working to improve the quality and nutrition of their offering, cutting back on sodium and preservatives, for instance, but instead of trumpeting efforts that will help appease critics, they’re hoping diners don’t notice.

Ugly produce:  In line with one of our Ten Trends for 2014, Proudly Imperfect, the lumpy form of an heirloom tomato or gnarled carrots at a farmers market, are gaining more appeal than the prettier produce commonly seen at supermarkets. And in Europe there’s a movement afoot to reduce food waste by selling rather than discarding imperfect produce.

Vegetable co-stars:  Veggies are gaining a higher profile on restaurant menus thanks to the broadening emphasis on farmers market ingredients, consumers’ rising inclination to eat less meat and chefs who see new opportunities to get creative.

On the drinks front…

Cocktails on tap:  We’ve seen wine moving into taps, and now cocktails are being mixed and stored in kegs. It saves bartenders time and can lower the price tag for imbibers who get the added bonus of being able to ask for sample tastes. Premixing doesn’t necessarily compromise quality – and may enhance it by enabling ingredients to mesh over time, though it only works well for some concoctions.

Craft mocktails:  Creative cocktails have primed drinkers for innovative options; meanwhile, non-drinkers have been stuck with the same boring choices. A new wave of craft mocktails incorporate syrup infusions, fresh juices, homemade sodas and an array of creative add-ins. Offerings include the Orange Juicy at New York City’s NoMad (orange juice, cream and orange blossom water), the seasonal Jardin de Fraises at Fig & Olive in LA and New York (kefir clover, strawberries and fig, clover honey and fig balsamic), and the Eden at London’s HKK (grapes, rose syrup, lychee juice and soda water).

Chinese wines:  China is already the world’s fifth-largest wine producer, and its wine will start to gain a higher profile as quality improves and output rises. Reports say China will double its current wine production within five years, while 20 Chinese wines were recognised at the Decanter World Wine Awards in May 2013.

Infused ice cubes:  Taking cocktail culture to yet the next level, mixologists are starting to up the flavours of their concoctions with infused ice: cubes of different shapes and sizes that are made with juices, fruits, syrups and herbs. They enhance the look of the beverage and rather than dilute the cocktail as they melt, the cubes add complementary flavours. They also up the cost.

Soju:  This distilled spirit usually made from rice has a slightly sweet taste, low alcohol content and a relatively low price for the category. Soju is so big in its native South Korea and some other Asian markets that the most popular brand Jinro has been the world’s top-selling spirit for some time. Now Jinro is seeking global fans.

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