TRENDING NOW Food and Flavor Predictions for 2018

Here in the Barilla test kitchen, it’s a fun time of year, when the dust has settled after the tsunami of food trend predictions from all the pundits and experts, and we can see a little more clearly as we look ahead. This is when we at Barilla take a deep breath and a big-picture look at trends to expect in the coming year.

First, the economic indicators all look positive for the foodservice industry in the year ahead. Unemployment is down around 4%, wages are finally rising a little bit, and foodservice sales are expecting to continue growing, albeit at a fairly slow rate. Takeout is definitely looking like a bright spot, especially for full-service chain restaurants that are otherwise struggling to stay relevant with younger consumers.

We looked at trend predictions from Datassential, Kimpton Group, Flavor & the Menu, Mintel and Technomic, among others, and found some common themes that made sense to us as well; we’ve pulled out a few below. For a roundup of trend stories to link to, see “Good to Know.” We’ll focus on a few more in future editions right here!

Instagrammable cuisine! Mintel called this phenomenon “Feed the Feed,” and there’s no doubt that in today’s culture, the photogenic quality of what’s on the plate matters a great deal. To put it another way, having food presentation or a restaurant that’s Facebook- or IG-worthy actually adds value to today’s diner. The social status it confers can make the difference between a visit to your restaurant, or the one next door. Add in the fact that online is where today’s diners are researching and making decisions about dining out, and it’s enough to make you buy a new SLR camera on the spot.

Barilla insight: Whether you’re an established chain or an up-and-coming independent, a college campus or a healthcare operation, this is relevant. Investing the time and effort in taking your own food photos for social media is worth it, as is making sure what comes off the rail is ready for its close up. And pasta looks amazing on camera!

This year’s global flavors are… We still love last year’s pick – Filipino cuisine – but for 2018 year, a lot of voices are clamoring for regional Mediterranean and Mexican flavors to rise.

They’re also saying that “this is the year” for Indian flavors to hit the mainstream. It fits with American diners’ long affinity for spicy foods, and the growing interest in plant-based proteins and a flexitarian way of eating. Add in the suddenly hip functional properties of Indian spices like turmeric and cinnamon, and suddenly it starts to make sense. The key for Indian to break through from ethnic obscurity to the mainstream will be in having a familiar carrier (Tacos? Pasta perhaps?) and a larger-than-life personality to lead the way.

Barilla insight: Pasta is a natural choice to help make less familiar flavors approachable and a comfortable order for the guest, while allowing their exotic appeal to take hold. For the Mediterranean it’s perhaps more obvious, but this works beautifully with Indian and regional Mexican flavors too. Try the recipes below, or imagine your own. What about pulled chicken mole over fettucine or bucatini, or the flavors of a rogan josh-style Kashmiri lamb with rigatoni?

Lime-Seared Scallop Medallions On Citrus Capellini Crisps

Penne with Afghan Qorma

Camarones con Rajas with Linguine

Barilla Spaghetti and Albondigas in Guajillo Tomato Sauce