2016 Culinary Trends

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What Consumers are Craving in 2016

Campbell’s Culinary & Baking Institute (CCBI), a global network of highly-trained chefs, bakers and culinary professionals at Campbell Soup Company released its third annual Culinary TrendScape – a report tracking the top 10 influential food themes for 2016.

The report is part of Campbell’s culinary tracking system that identifies and categorizes the most impactful food trends and follows them on their journey as they evolve through six distinct stages:

  • Discovery (fine dining, cultural hotspots, trendsetting chefs)
  • Introduction (independent restaurants, food magazines, upscale specialty grocers)
  • Adoption (full-service restaurants, food TV and celebrity chefs, specialty stores, limited-service menu innovators)
  • Mainstream (fast-casual restaurants, mainstream media, retail innovations)
  • Established (quick-service restaurants, grocery retail products, packaged foods)
  • Expanded (internationally available)

The top 10 trends in 2016 are:

  1. Cooking with Fire. (Discovery) Embrace the open flame by grilling and charring foods to add character and intensify flavour. From beef, pork and chicken to fruits, veggies, baked goods and spices, fired up foods are on the brink of becoming a foodservice trend. Stay one step ahead of the trend by testing out new firing and charring techniques on your menu items.
  2. Authentic Thai. (Introduction) Thai-American food is already quite popular, but authentic Thai food is just beginning to gain traction in trendy establishments. Differentiate your menu with this diverse cuisine that includes items like tangy minced meat salads, fiery papaya salads, pungent fermented fish and a variety of chile-based dips.
  3. French Revival. (Introduction) Explore ways to revive classic and causal French fare on the menu. Add a lighter, more modern twist to breathe new life into comforting bistro cuisine, like steak and frites or French-inspired pastries.
  4. Inspired Ice Cream. (Adoption) From designer milkshakes to unexpected flavour fusions, ice cream makers are reinventing the frozen dessert category one scoop at a time. As this trend breaks into the mainstream, it’s still driven by discovery and adventure. Chefs are differentiating their inspired ice cream by thinking artistically and combining flavours and formats like never before.
  5. Traditional Fats. (Adoption) When it comes to ingredients, fat is no longer a bad word. As consumers’ perceptions of fat change, chefs are finally starting to get comfortable with bringing more full-fat ingredients to the menu. On-trend products include coconut oil, avocado, full-fat yogurt and rendered chicken fat.
  6. Veg 2.0. (Adoption) From green juices to kale chips, veggies have caught on in a big way at the mainstream retail level. Chefs are innovating and evolving this trend in the foodservice world by experimenting with meat-to-veggie ratios in meals and putting the spotlight on lesser-known root veggies, like kohlrabi.
  7. Asian Noodle Soups. (Mainstream) Whether it’s creative ramen dishes or classic pho, comforting Asian noodle soups are now a menu must have. Keep an eye out for beyond-basic bowls as chefs extend the trend to include Lanzhou Beef, Thai Khao Soi and Curry Laksa varieties.
  8. Haute Dogs. (Established) Hot dogs are a convenient platform for menu creativity. That’s just one reason why they’ve reached mainstream status. As consumers’ love for creative dogs increases, there’s no end in sight for the amount of fun flavour combinations chefs will come up with—like Krispy Kreme donut hot dog buns or vegetarian-friendly varieties.
  9. Simple and Real. (Established) Transparency is now a top priority for patrons. They want to be sure they’re eating fresh, safe, ethical and healthy options. Sites like Campbell’s WhatsInMyFood.com can help both consumers and foodservice operators answer questions about the foods they’re serving and eating.
  10. Caramel. (Expanded) This sticky-sweet ingredient is now a menu mainstay. Chefs continue to experiment with twists on a tried-and-true caramel base. Innovative variations include spicy, boozy, burnt and botanical notes.