2019 Food Predictions

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Genie Maybanks, New Pi Marketing & Outreach Coordinator

Every fall Baum + Whiteman — a prestigious international restaurant consultation firm — launches their top food predictions for the coming year. I find their lists amusing, inspiring, and sometimes extremely accurate.

Meanwhile, it’s our job in the progressive food co-op landscape to invent these trends, so that Baum + Whiteman can spot them! We took a break from thinking about the seasonal foods in front of us to look ahead. Here’s what the procurement staff, the buyers, the chefs, and the foodies setting the table at your Co-op are saying about their predictions for 2019:

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JoJo Baccam, New Pi Graphic Designer, Cookbook Author, and Serious Foodie: Ramen will continue to “hit” through the year, and grow in popularity. We will see more Southeast Asian foods, especially those with a focus on fresh ingredients like papaya salad.

Melinda VanderGast, Digital Grocery Specialist: The British Cookbook “Cooking on a Bootstrap” helps people on a budget meet their dietary needs through veganism. Veganism is just going to keep growing because it is affordable and it is ecological. For those pressed for time, grocery delivery will also grow. (Is this a foreshadow of things to come?)

Alex Gassman, Grocery Coordinator: Ghee is the new coconut oil. Oat milk and other alternative dairy options are going to continue to soar. Cow’s milk just replaced peanuts as the top allergen in children in the US, and veganism is on the rise. Faux meats will continue to expand. Beyond Meat will release a new meat-alternative to brats, and their veggie burgers continue to grow in popularity. Our local Old Capitol Tofu sales are expanding week after week. The alternative proteins are popular! Lastly, CBD! If Iowa adopts the Farm Bill’s legalized hemp/CBD provisions, we are going to see demand for CBD blow-up and there will be a huge boom of products to deliver it, from sodas and beverages to cakes and nutrition bars.  Many CBD products are already formulated and poised to take over the shelves nationwide.

Linda Fritz-MurphyLead Product Manager: We’ll see more products going keto-friendly. Veganism is going to continue to grow. Climate chaos from the wildfires, droughts, hurricanes, and the like are going to impact what we eat.  Produce will be a volatile product going forward.  Hopefully this year is better for our local growers than last year, where droughts hit the spring planting and intense rains and flooding impacted harvest. As environmental consciousness rises, zero-waste will become a stronger player in food choices.  The green companies we buy from will work to reduce packaging, setting the trends for the following years. Consumers will look for immediate and easy solutions, like bringing their own mesh produce bags, but also buying in bulk.  We will see more bulk spices, bulk teas, bulk nuts, and even bulk honey sales. Probably most significant for trends will be CBD in foods, beverages, and personal care products. If the State of Iowa allows sale, it will be hard to miss CBD in every store.

Michelle McClintick, Wellness Coordinator: I’m reading the Farm Bill now. If CBD is legalized in Iowa, we will see it on our shelves! I’ve already researched the best companies with the best quality control standards, and placed contingency orders. We will have the highest quality, third party-tested CBD products. Medicinal mushrooms will continue to grow in popularity. As scientists are studying the compounding effects of Lion’s Mane and Turkey Tail for things like cognitive function and cancer treatment potential, consumers are growing more interested. Watch for mushroom supplements blended with “superfoods” like goji berries, ashwagandha, moringa, and more. We can’t underestimate the continued growth in the keto diet and the products emerging to support what beginners call the “keto flu.” Items like specific probiotic blends, keto PH strips, and keto supplements, enzymes, and snack bars will be more widely available.

Ian Moore, Cedar Rapids Store Meat Cutter, Organic Farmer, and Gourmet Cook: People will eat less red meat. The ease and access to meat alternatives and vegetable-focused foods in restaurants, along with concern for the environment and animal welfare, will impact lifestyle choices. A move toward sustainably caught and line-caught fish will replace some of the demand for red meat. The recent number of beef recalls is also shaking confidence. Knowing the growers and eating more seasonably is becoming more important to communities all over. At my house, we would like to see more Mexican and Cuban-influenced cuisines.

Megan Bartos, Prepared Foods & Meat Lead in Cedar Rapids: Indian Black Salt will be gaining traction, as it's used for an umami seasoning in vegan dishes. It's known for it's sulfuric flavor quality, which resembles the taste of a hard boiled egg yolk. It's often used in vegan tofu breakfast bakes to mimic a more traditional egg bake. Other uses include popcorn seasoning, Indian cuisine, and pickling.

Jen Angerer, Marketing Manager: There will be almost no berries. We will experience shortages in foods we love because there is a labor shortage that is not being filled by immigrants. There is no way around it.

Chef Tony Walsh, Food Production Coordinator: Fermented everything. Koji for the win. “Popcorn tofu” will be a big buzzword.

Genie Maybanks, Marketing & Outreach Coordinator: CBD will be huge everywhere, but food co-ops will continue to lead the market in unique product procurement, and will continue to be the place for small businesses to break onto the scene. The import/export taxes on Chinese goods will continue to impact agriculture. Smaller farmers are being driven into bankruptcy, leading to large land transfers. The recent “bail-outs” didn’t benefit our local fruit and vegetable growers. Just as soy growers lost their Chinese markets, big apple producers in Washington State lost their Chinese markets, too. Iowa apple growers saw excess products from the West coast dumped in our marketplace at below production costs this year. The ripples of this, combined with changes in immigrant labor in California, are going to put pressures on food production and cost. It will make supporting local farmers more important than ever. More restaurants will tell us that they are supporting local farms. Plant-based focus will continue to grow as people connect the dots between food, the environment, and health. More salads in 2019! Will there be more salad bars at co-ops? (Fingers crossed!)

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