Trending Now: Food and Flavor Predictions for 2019

With the new year now underway, it’s a good time to take stock of all those pundit and expert predictions for food and flavor trends in 2019. Here in the Barilla Test Kitchen, we look a little more closely and try to divide the wild and crazy from the real as we look ahead.

First, the economic indicators all look positive for the foodservice industry in the year ahead; unemployment is down (below 4%), wages are rising, and foodservice sales are expected to continue growing.

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.

Plant-forward everywhere! Pretty much every trendologist points to a continued interest in plant-based foods, from all-in vegetarian and vegan to plant-centric, where meat is used as a condiment or complimentary ingredient instead of the main star. It’s tied into what Mintel calls “Serving the Earth” – where restaurants are helping consumers do their part by addressing food waste, plastics/disposables, and serving more sustainable foods. The data shows that consumers see value in sustainability, and are trying to cut back on animal protein consumption for environmental or personal health reasons. Food Management’s 2019 Trends List even listed both “pasta with protein” and “plant-based comfort foods” as trends to watch, with a nod to legume pastas like ours!

Barilla insight: Good for You-Good for the Planet is a cornerstone for Barilla. We see the emphasis on plant-forward most relevant in non-commercial foodservice, from college campuses to healthcare and B&I operations, but this is happening across the board. It’s why we launched our new legume pastas, and why we’ve been doing a lot of menu development in this area; pasta is a great platform for building satisfying, approachable plant-forward menu items. Click here for a set of our favorite plant-forward dishes for foodservice!

This year’s global flavors are… There’s wide agreement among trendwatchers that the flavors of the Middle East and North Africa, or the “levant” as it’s sometimes called, are primed for a big year. Think Israel, Morocco, Syria, Turkey and Egypt, and spices and condiments like Ras Al Hanout, Zhug, Za’atar, and Harissa.

Barilla insight: These flavors are a natural pairing with pasta, and a way to make less familiar flavors approachable and a comfortable order or the guest. While authentic Israeli mnazelah might seem like a typo on a menu, it’s a simple translation to a pasta dish.