10 Top Food Industry Trends and Predictions for 2014

2013 witnessed the rise of upscale pork bellies, gluten-free everything, and Dominique Ansel’s delicious cronut–a mix between a croissant and a donut–what new foods will the new year bring? Here are our predictions for food industry trends and foods that your customers will be craving in 2014.

1. Food mash ups
Last years cronut surprised everyone, and in the fast food world Doritos combined with Taco Bell for those crazy Doritos Tacos Locos. In your restaurant, let 2014 be a year of creativity and see what unique pairings you come up with this year. Remember that people like to see their comfort foods done up in new and exciting ways, so this year might be the year of the Macaroni and Cheeseburger.

2. Kumquats
Kumquats are tiny and adorable, the perfect blend of sweet and sour. We’re predicting that more chefs will be using them this year as diners are looking for healthier vegetarian, gluten-free desserts that look beautiful. The simplicity and minimalism movements are making strong inroads on American buying habits, and we’re guessing that food habits will also swing in favor of minimalist foods with incredible flavor.

3. Edible alcohol
Speaking of mash ups, we predict that guests will be clamoring for booze they can chew, such as champagne snow cones, cupcakes with boozy frostings and fillings, and liquid-nitrogen-cooled gin gimlet sorbets this year. Also try those neat little chocolate shot glasses filled with Bailey or another cream liquor.

4. New cuts of meat
Pork bellies were on the rise last year, perhaps this year other lower-end meats will rise to their own fame. Pig feet Cubanos and beef tongue soup are long overdue for their time in the spotlight.

5. Fresh honeycomb
Since the bees have been vanishing, urban centers around the world have been setting up beehives on their roofs. Even the Waldorf Astoria is getting in on the trend of making their own honey, so we’re predicting that with so much in-house honey available, honeycomb will become the trendy garnish of 2014.

6. Vegan
Vegetarian food is here to stay, and restaurants are finally fully embracing the trend of meat-free menu items. 2013 witnessed many high-profile bloggers (such as Scott Dinsmore and Leo Babauta) talking about the benefits of veganism and issuing vegan challenges to their readers. We think that the vegan trend will spread into the restaurants, and that even the corner diners will begin offering vegan specialities to their customers.

7. Quinoa
Gluten-free food became unbelievably popular in 2013, but that little problem regarding the sandy texture of gluten-free goods hasn’t quite cleared up yet. Becuase of this, we’re predicting that more whole grains, like quinoa, will be available on the menus in 2014.

8. Goat and rabbit
With the urban homesteader and Locavore movements still going strong, we’re predicting that more urban farmers will get certified to sell to restaurants in 2014 and their contributions to the market will increase the smaller livestock offerings on menus.  Look out for urban homesteader staples such as goat and rabbit in delicious foods like rabbit sausage and goat tacos in 2014.

9. Tea leaves
Tea’s 15 minutes of fame is long overdue, and this year we’re predicting that diners will be eager to try edible tea leaves sprinkled on salads or baked into artisan breads, and that Teatinis (yup, that’s a tea-flavored martini) will rise in popularity. With the overwhelming variety of flavors that black tea alone offers, we’re surprised more restaurants haven’t tried cooking, baking and mixing with tea before now.

10. Oils
Rachel Ray’s EVOO is so yesterday. 2014’s oils will finally break through olive oil’s long-lasting supremacy and place even tastier oils, such as avocado oil or hazelnut oil in dressings, dips, and even drinks.

No matter what new food trends 2014 brings, customers will still be searching out the best, most unique and most delicious food around. Our 2014 advice to restauranteurs is to keep innovating and to keep pushing your creative limits. You got into this difficult business because you love creating and sharing new foods, so we hope that you share more new foods with the rest of the world this year. With enough work, you too can create the new top food industry trend… and we look forward to tasting and toasting your success.

Photo licensed for use by Christian Schnettelker