Convenience will be at the forefront of consumers’ minds in 2023, according to the Specialty Food Association’s (SFA) Trendspotter Panel. The panel, comprised of culinary professionals from diverse industry segments, researches numerous specialty food items and companies to predict key emerging trends for the upcoming year.
The Food Trends the SFA Panel Anticipates for 2023:
Creating restaurant-quality meals at home
As consumers have begun to increasingly cook at home during the pandemic, the SFA panel predicts brands will focus on providing tools and recipes for at-home chefs looking to make simple meals that don’t sacrifice “authenticity, convenience, or taste,” said Kantha Shelke, a panel member and founder of Corvus Blue LLC.
For example, Good Food For Good, Toronto, formulated organic, plant-based Bolognese-style sauces made with pumpkin seeds and extra virgin olive oil.
Carbone Fine Food, a retail brand inspired by the fare at New York City restaurant Carbone, has released a marinara delicato sauce formulated without onions or garlic for those with digestion sensitivities. The sauce includes Italian-imported tomatoes, fresh basil, olive oil, carrots, sea salt, celery, and oregano.
The panel also believes consumers will look for innovative packaging that can offer increased portability while lessening messiness. Brands should similarly look to improve messaging on their labels and tap into consumer values like sustainability.
Environmentally Friendly foods
Ranked No.2 on the panel’s 2023 food trends. Plant-based foods and unique ingredients are helping drive the trend as innovative applications like mushroom, seaweed and jackfruit-based products are on the rise.
A growing demand for alternative seafood amid emerging technologies was observed that can provide traditional tastes and textures. Plant-based alternatives to fish and seafood are the future, not just in terms of nutrition, but also ecologically. One reason is that they appeal to younger consumers like Generation Z.
“The awareness of the meatless category is driving consumers to look for alternatives in seafood, too. Key to acceptance is aligning nutritional values, texture, and flavor to those of traditional fish,” said Patsy Ramirez-Arroyo. Marine farming is rising as an option to traditional agriculture and some specialty food brands are getting people to rethink seaweed and algae.
Functional foods at par to make the most out of meals
Functional foods continue to grow in 2023, with consumers seeking to balance their interest in healthy and indulgent foods. These foods are naturally or artificially fortified foods that offer health benefits beyond their nutritional value. The survey claims that 65% of consumers were seeking functional benefits in their food & beverages, and now this number has only increased.
Some popular functional food types include omega-3s, probiotics, and vitamins. Manufacturers usually define them as “a food that provides a health benefit beyond basic nutrition,” emphasizing benefits such as blood sugar control or weight loss. Yet, these functional foods can become your savior if you struggle with maintaining a balanced diet. Examples of functional foods could be fortified cereals that include vitamins, vitamin D-enriched milk, and nutrient-rich drinks.
Increased interest in bold and intense flavor experiences
The panel also predicted there will be an increased interest in bold and intense flavor experiences in the upcoming year, building on the hot sauce renaissance that started offering consumers nuanced taste experiences equally prioritizing heat and flavor.
Building a Pantry without borders
There is an increased desire for globally inspired condiments, sauces, and oils. A crop of globally inspired condiments, sauces, oils, and seasonings will champion everyday meal adventures. “From main dishes to condiments, in 2023 we will see a lot more international flavors,” says Chef Osei Blackett.
Increasing interest in International fruits
Interest in international fruit, beverage, and snack applications is widely visible. “Enter international fruits – alternative citrus, melons, and stone fruits wildly colorful and in extraordinary shapes and flavors – to invoke a sense of faraway destinations, new flavors, textures, colors, and possibilities,” according to SFA experts.
A shift toward naturally occurring sweeteners:
Natural, alternative sweeteners are poised to make strides in 2023, including pure maple syrup, coconut sugar, fruit juices, and honey.
The Specialty Food Association (SFA) is a not-for-profit, membership-based, trade association founded in 1952 and currently representing 3,000+ businesses. Its mission: “To champion, nurture and connect members to deliver innovative products and expand consumption of specialty foods.”