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Between rainbow toast and purple cauliflower

Food Trends 2017

A hissing-sound comes from the barbecue, the flames are blazing through the grate and give the steak, which just was raw, an intense roasting flavour. The piece of meat is ready, medium or rare in the middle. It will be served on the plate and garnished - with chocolate sauce! In addition, the supposedly sweet dessert is a yogurt with carrots, pomegranate seeds and parsley. Sounds strange? But this is the trend!

Hanni Rützler Photo: © Nicole Heiling

Each year nutritionists, food scientists, and foodies ascertain what trends the consumers are ready for. While in Australia, "Ice'n'Fries" are the latest trend, i.e. soft ice cream with chips, the taste "swavory", a mixture of sweet and savoury, is highly promoted by experts in Germany for 2017. In addition, rainbow products, purple vegetables or chocolate pizza from the freezer cabinet are particularly popular this year.

However, the above-mentioned facts do not yet represent trends according to the nutritionist and food trend researcher Hanni Rützler. They are more like trend phenomena. "For me, trends provide answers to current challenges and wishes of the consumers. They are solution-oriented and include major topics", declares the Austrian. A modified product is not able to fulfil this. A trend requires an innovation to be permanently accepted by the consumers. According to Hanni Rützler, it is not sufficient to provide an adaption of an existing product. Currently, it's all about sustainability, naturalness, regional origin and products making the daily life easier.

But also the budget, network, location and marketing must be appropriate in order to convert a good idea into a trend. According to Christoph Minhoff, CEO of 'The Federation of German Food and Drink Industries', food trends arise initially from values and primarily from certain living conditions: "Today food is often an expression of individual lifestyles and opinions. So for instance, food can also be used for social exclusion. A trend becomes perceptible if it represents a part of the public opinion and conquers the store shelf."

Rainbow

So the currently popular rainbow products will rather not become a long-lasting phenomenon. Although they bring a little bit more colour on our plates. We already know rainbow bagels from the previous year. On Instagram, we have already discovered one or another rainbow-coloured cake. But with the colourful Unicorn Frappuccino from Starbucks or the rainbow cheese toast from Hong Kong the colourful trend has reached a new stage. The cheese for the toast will be coloured with natural food, such like basil, lavender or tomato. The Unicorn Frappuccino will be produced with vanilla and mango syrup, adding white chocolate sauce and pixie dust, a mixture of sugar and food colouring, which is extracted from fruits and vegetables. By contrast, the unicorn bratwurst from the Mecklenburgian producer Puttkammer is less sweet and less natural.

According to Hanni Rützler, this trend, however, will remain only a short-lived hype: "Rainbow represents a culture phenomenon in the USA. It is also approaching us, but it belongs rather to the category 'birthday party' and will not become a mainstream product. I do not predict that this trend will continue in the long term". Because the fact is that in our cultural area the focus is more and more on natural and high-quality products. Therefore, it will be difficult for food with artificial additives. And even the rainbow toast which is coloured with natural food will probably not prevail in Germany. "Although the consumers are always searching for something new, blue, red or green cheese will not be preferred to be eaten as long as it does not taste exceptionally good or even better than the normal cheese", says Rützler. According to Christoph Minhoff, the taste influences the consumers' purchasing decisions the most: "This is followed by product safety and appearance. And beauty is always in the eye of the beholder."

Christoph Minhoff. Photo: © BVE

Purple vegetables

Also vegetarian meals are currently very colourful. At a time in which, according to Hanni Rützler, "meat has lost the pole position on the plates", vegetables become more and more important. Thus, the vegetables have to be varied and diverse in colour. Purple vegetables are a phenomenon which was predicted to be a new trend by the world's largest supermarket chain for organic products "Whole Foods". So in the future, asparagus, cauliflower, maize or potatoes will arrive on the table in colourful shades of violet and purple and, thus, start replacing tofu and soybean steaks more and more frequently. The use of vegetables is also becoming more and more divers: zoodles, spaghetti made from courgettes or carrots are eaten more often for example. According to Rützler, we still lack a little imagination to integrate the vegetables into our dishes even better and more frequently. After all, we are accustomed to the handling of meat. However, beautiful purple vegetables have the best chances to establish themselves in our cuisine in the long term.

Swavory

Yogurt, sweet potatoes, pickled onions, walnuts, coriander, lime, chili oil and cumin - sounds like a shopping list, however, these are the ingredients of a dish. Instead of usually sweet and mostly fruity toppings, yogurt is garnished with savoury food. The trend combines sweet and savoury food to the new flavour swavory. This combination has been around for some time. Sweet pancakes with salty bacon, chocolate-coated pretzels or salty caramel are well known to us. Spinach, avocado or kale have become established ingredients of a green smoothie. However, the spicy yogurt with pumpkin or carrot finds its way to Germany rather slowly. In other European countries, this trend has already prevailed. "In Turkey, there has been an absolute trend of savoury yogurt drinks in summer for many years", says Hanni Rützler.

But does the swavory trend have a future? "Precisely because taste is the most important but also most subjective purchase criterion for consumers, forecasts as regards the success of the product are difficult. Things remain exciting, whether the combination of sweet and savoury will prevail among the majority of the German population." says Christoph Minhoff about the new taste composition. One reason why it could still take a while until the trend also conquers Germany are, according to Hanni Rützler, the dairies which are still acting reluctantly. Moreover, savoury yogurt products could also become more popular if they were integrated into gastronomy and different dishes. Nevertheless, the swavory trend has the potential to establish itself in the long term. After all, a new flavour is always a new trend.

Trend mix

And even if rainbow products, purple vegetables or swavory cannot develop into a real trend, there is still the chance that they complement each other and mix. Christoph Minhoff sees such a trend mix for example in vegan or vegetarian ready-made meals: "On the one hand, food has to be prepared faster for the German population. On the other hand, there are more and more people who want to eat consciously. For these people, food has to become better and better." According to Minhoff, a trend can only prevail in the long term, if it corresponds to the superordinated social trends of the consumers. And these can, of course, also mix. This is the only way to satisfy our desire for constant change and new taste experiences.

Headerphoto: © gitusik - stock.adobe.com

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