If you’ve been to farmers markets this year, you know there’s a demand for locally produced foods. That interest will continue in 2012. Here are some other trends I think we’ll see this year:
If you’ve been to farmers markets this year, you know there’s a demand for locally produced foods. That interest will continue in 2012.
Here are some other trends I think we’ll see this year:
-- Cost cutting. The feds predict the cost of food this year will increase 2.5 to 3.5 percent over 2011. Shoppers will trim costs by buying less meat and seafood and adding more lower-cost fillers, such as pasta, brown rice, vegetables, beans, peanut butter and tofu.
-- Healthful kids’ meals in restaurants. Look for fewer fried chicken nuggets and more fruit slices, low-fat milk, whole grains, grilled meats and mini portions of adult meals.
-- Men in the kitchen. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 41 percent of men cook at home, double the number from 2003. Men increasingly are taking over the grocery shopping, too.
-- Reliance on technology. At Chipotle, you can order and pay for your meal online and then drop in to pick it up, bypassing customers waiting in line. If you’re looking for a quick dinner idea, there are a slew of apps that will serve up a smorgasbord of recipes. With smartphones and tablets, diners are checking QR codes and mobile coupons, reading menus and comparing prices.
-- Ethnic desserts. Look for more flan, tortes, sopaipillas, gelato and other international sweets on restaurant menus and in cookbooks. You’ll also see cake, ice cream, cookies and other traditional desserts made with ethnic flavors, such as chai, dulce de leche, lemongrass and green tea.
-- Foods with health benefits. Trend spotters say baby boomers –– 76 million of them –– will be buying 52 percent of all groceries by 2015, making them the largest group of influencers and purchasers. As they age, they will become more interested in foods that tout health benefits.
-- Special menus. Many diners are on gluten-free, lactose-free, salt-free, nut-free and other types of diets. Some are counting calories or are allergic to certain ingredients. The result will be more diverse offerings and more special menus in restaurants.
-- Artisanal foods. We all know about handcrafted breads and cheeses. That attention to quality will be given to other foods and beverages made in small batches, including ice cream and soda pop. And the popularity of craft beer made in microbreweries shows no sign of slowing down.
Food editor Kathryn Rem can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.