As the New Year begins, food trend predictions for the months ahead are quick to emerge.
So what will the big flavours and products be for 2014?

By June Maurhart

A “revolution” in the fast food industry, more urban farms, a closer look at where our food is coming from and a return to the simple, healthy vegetable is predicted, along with a revival of childhood memories and food associated stories.
     A huge move back into the kitchen, with “housewives” creating businesses around their home industry dishes; fermenting; foraging and a continued focus on the “artisanal”, is very much at the fore.
     These are just some of the trends that local chefs and foodies are predicting for 2014 as an increasing number of ordinary people become passionate about cooking and fussier about ingredients.
     We can expect a growing obsession with street food – particularly American-style, with hotdogs and hamburgers taking pride of place – along with other American-themed foods. It’s worth noting that all of these items are going to need a roll or a bun to complete the meal.
Key ingredients that are expected to come into the spotlight, according to local experts, include noodles, salt, eggs, “boerekos”, the use of a variety of different oils like macadamia, avocado and grape seed – and of all things, peanut butter.
     Trend forecaster Dion Chang says the world should expect a “very, very” big revolution in the fast food industries, thanks to the changing demands of the millennial generation (people born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s).
     Even Coca-Cola is targeting the needs of millennials’ palates, moving towards recyclable casings and reduced calories. McDonalds, which took a hard knock and is no longer on the top 10 millennial list of favourite places to go, has started including healthier foods on its menus. According to Chang, we can even expect to see items like gluten-free doughnuts.
     In line with a growing awareness of health, it is vegetables that we will see a lot more of, say experts Carianne Wilson of Silwood School of Cookery and food blogger, Samantha Linsell.
Justin Bonello, local chef and TV personality, best known for his cooking/travel shows Cooked and The Ultimate Braai Master, believes the move towards seasonable availability will be bigger than ever.
     Some of the main food trends in the year ahead are the on-going popularity of anything artisanal. According to Wilson, home-made bacon and sausages will be all the rage. Some of the major retailers already report that sales of sausage-filling attachments have taken off. Curing and smoking will still be popular. This is good news for some of the suppliers featured in our sister magazine The Butcher.
     Kesler would like to see more attention paid to “our daily bread”. “Bread is a staple in most families. I would like to see a more natural product – using quality flour; water, salt and yeast. It is good to see more and more artisanal bakers coming through in South Africa – they deserve our support.”
     One potential influence mentioned by many in the industry is the Football World Cup to be held in Brazil during June and July, with Latino flavours expected to influence new product development.
     Pundits in the UK predict that Rabanada – a traditional Brazilian breakfast food – may well make it into their morning routines. It is the Brazilian equivalent of French toast, and is covered in a cinnamon, cocoa and sugar mix. Whether this will take-off here in South Africa remains to be seen.
     Tosneem Backhouse, sales director of EHL Ingredients (UK) adds, “The Brazilian World Cup is also set to bring some new dishes and flavour combinations to the UK market place, Empadáo (meat and vegetable pie), foods using cassava, and desserts incorporating cinnamon, coconut and berries are all expected to become popular choices this summer.”
     Three other UK pundits predictions are that lemon will be a “star ingredient” in pastry this year; artisan bread baskets will be at the forefront of restaurant dining in 2014; that posh marshmallows could be the big new confectionery treat, and be used more and more in cake decorating.
     Meanwhile EHL Ingredients, a leading ingredient producer in the UK, has predicted that exotic international food ingredients, foraged foods and free-from and organic are the areas set for a surge in demand this year.
     Incidentally for the uninitiated, which I might add includes me, foraged foods are acquired by hunting, fishing, or the gathering of edible plants.
     Two other ingredients which it seems are set to be hot ticket items are asafetida and fenugreek. Backhouse says, “These ingredients have been around for a long time, but British consumers are always on the look-out for the next flavour trend and these two are definitely ones to watch this year.”
     Looking again at the free-from trend, the company expects demand for arrowroot to continue as well as a number of alternatives to emerge. For example, cassava flour, which is made from ground and cleaned cassava roots, as opposed to the starch powder that is extracted from the roots to create arrowroot. Cassava flour can be used as an effective alternative to wheat flour, thus we expect to see a boom in demand from food manufacturers for other options.”
     Well there you have it. How many of these food forecasts will filter through to the local market remains to be seen – arrowroot bread – mmmmm!