Photo-friendly food, Middle Eastern cuisine and mushroom-infused coffee are on the menu for 2018, as Oklahoma State University’s Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center selects the hottest food trends for the upcoming year. 

Andrea Graves, FAPC business planning and marketing specialist, says change is inevitable and trends help indicate what is coming next. 

“Understanding these trends helps businesses stay ahead of upcoming change, whether it is regulatory or a new flavor profile,” she says. “Also, in most cases, consumers drive the trends and are looking for products and companies that are meeting their needs and lifestyles.” 

Here are the top 10 trends for 2018, according to FAPC:

1. Photo-friendly food 

The more Instagram-worthy your food is, the better. Consumers do not just want to eat their food. They want to share it with friends and show off where they have been. The result is a demand for colorful, textured and unique food items to gain more likes, comments and shares online. Prepare to see more purple vegetables, black ice cream and blue algae lattes. 

2. Transparency

This trend continues to gain popularity. Consumers want to know how their food got from the source to the store. They want to know what their food is made of, how it was cared for and whether it is a healthy option. This increased interest in food forces producers and manufacturers to enhance transparency with consumers. 

3. Middle Eastern cuisine

Food from the Middle East isn’t a new concept. With hummus, pita and falafels on the market, Americans are ready to dive deeper into the culinary novelties Israeli, Moroccan and other Middle Eastern cultures have to offer. Some examples include shakshuka and sumac-spiced foods. 

4. Innovative food waste reduction

Reducing food waste is a recurring trend, but manufacturers are taking it to a new level. Pickling watermelon rinds, using beet trimmings and leftover fruit in cocktails and chopping broccoli stems for coleslaw are a few of the innovative ways to reduce food waste and are expected to take off in the upcoming year. 

5. Fourth meal

Whether it is a second breakfast or a midafternoon snack, many consumers are adding a fourth, smaller meal to their daily menu. The fourth meal includes anything from an energy-boosting salad before an evening workout to peanut butter on toast before bed. This trend is not about trying to eat more food in a day, but rather adapting eating schedules to fit busy lifestyles. 

6. Mushroom mania

Mushrooms are found in a variety of dishes and have earned their place at the healthy ingredients table. In 2018, mushrooms are predicted to gain popularity and be found in coffee, cocoa, ice cream and even soap and shampoo. 

7. Plant power

Plant-based protein was popular in 2017 and the trend is predicted to gain more prominence in 2018. Expect more vegetable entrées as consumers continue to embrace a flexitarian lifestyle. 

8. All-day breakfast

More restaurants are joining the all-day breakfast bandwagon. Consumers love to eat breakfast foods at any time of the day. This is sparking creativity and leading to the development of interesting breakfast ideas perfect for morning, noon and night.  

9. Taco ’bout options

The #TacoTuesday trend is far from over. The variety of tacos is increasing with breakfast and dessert tacos available to consumers. In addition, tacos are shedding their shell and fillings to create new, healthier varieties such as seaweed-wrapped, poke-filled tacos. But, traditional tacos aren’t going anywhere. 

10. Floral flavors

We know flowers are pretty and fragrant, but they’re tasty, too. From floral-infused drinks and snacks, to adding whole flowers and petals to dishes, the floral trend is in full bloom. Items such as lavender lattes and pink hibiscus teas are predicted to gain popularity in 2018.  NP

FAPC — a part of Oklahoma State University’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources — helps to discover, develop and deliver technical and business information that stimulates and supports the growth of value-added food and agricultural products and processing in Oklahoma. Melanie Jackson is a graduate student with FAPC Communications. For more information, contact Mandy Gross, FAPC Communications, at (405) 744-0442 or