My sister and brother-in-law came into town to visit (for a late Christmas celebration with the family). At lunch, my BIL asked me what I thought might be the food trends of 2016. Here's what I came up with....
  1. Nitro coffee
    The flat white coffee drink is so 2015. Bulletproof coffee is 2014. Cold brew is 2013. Nitro, which is cold brewed coffee infused with nitrogen to give the coffee a beer-like consistency, thickness and mouthfeel has been around in coffee centric cities like Portland and SF. But it'll start spreading further across the country in 2016 and soon you'll be able to buy it chilled in a can at your local Whole Foods.
  2. Southeast Asian Food
    Vietnamese will only get a higher profile and soon it will halo out to Cambodian, Laotian as well as Singapore, Malaysian and Indonesian. It's a slow build though. I expect this to continue to trend in 2017 and 2018.
  3. Filipino food will continue to trend
    Like Korean food hitting the mainstream, Filipino food is just starting to get traction. Expect more of it.
  4. Gluten-free and paleo will still be around. But it'll become more fractured
    Whole 30, grain free, clean eating, superfood cuisines. Just as vegetarian fractured into vegan, raw, pescatarian, even flexitarian/no red meat, expect more niche diets derived or based off of gluten free or paleo style diets.
  5. Alternative & non-refined sweeteners
    Expect baked goods and cookbooks focusing on sweeteners that aren't just white refined granulated sugar. Honey, maple syrup, coconut palm sugar, date, agave, sorghum... Like the trend in whole grains and ancient grains, unrefined sugars will start to pop up more everywhere. M
  6. More whole grains will be "discovered" by the masses
    Sorghum is a gluten free grain popular in the US South but is only just starting to be "discovered" by the rest of the US who are looking for the next quinoa or teff. Amaranth and millet is also on my radar but less so. I'd love to see a rise in spelt and khoresan wheat but I think because they both are wheat type grains with gluten, it's less likely they will trend in the same way.
  7. Non-traditional and traditional milks will be everywhere.
    From heritage cow's milk to goat milk to hemp and almond and coconut milk, expect more milk and milk substitute options and products becoming available across the board. From cheese to ice cream like products, milk and alternative milk like substances will be easier to find.
  8. Farm to table will expand
    Farm to cake (desserts with a local organic fruit and vegetable inspiration), farm to tap (beer from fruits and vegetables) and farm to scoop (ice cream and sorbets with a seasonal produce slant) will start to appear in places outside of California and New York. Basically a marketing phrase, expect more "farm to XYZ" to appear as a tag line all over.
  9. Midwest to coast trends instead of the other way
    Traditionally food trends start on the major metropolitan coast cities (LA, SF, Portland, Seattle, New York, Boston, Philly) and then work their way into the center of the country slowly. It used to take 5-10 years for mid-country cities like Minneapolis or St. Louis to pick up on trends, though with the Internet, this time has shortened to 1-2 years. But soon trends and food styles will start originating in those Midwest cities and move to the coast.
  10. Expect more sour, bitter, fermented and vinegary ingredients
    Sweet and salty is basic. High-end fine dining chefs are tired of just playing with those two notes. Expect more sour, bitter and fermented notes in dishes, influenced from Eastern Europe and Asia. Fermented in particular has been trending and it will only get more popular with kimchi, sauerkraut and sourdough starter everything popping up all over the place.
  11. More dining at home
    Expect more mass private chef services like Blue Apron, Munchery, Sprig and meal delivery services to pop up in cities that don't already have it. For major cities that have these services, expect more niche options like Whole 30, raw, vegan, gluten free or paleo options to become available.
  12. More oddball flavor combos will appear then disappear
    Expect weird stuff like umami candy or spicy bitter appetizers to pop up and then go viral (you won't believe what this restaurant in Toledo OH is serving!!!) because they are weird and then disappear again to be forgotten. This is basically a no brainer. Everyone wants to make the next "shock" dish but these things never stick around.