Food Trends — Should You Pay Attention?

Feb 032010
 
An array of grains on display at the Fancy Food Show Beans, spices and grains on display at the Fancy Food Show.

It’s the start of the new year, and everyone has predictions.

The Fancy Food Show just released a list of the top five food trends for 2010, according to a panel of “food critics and food writer experts” on location. They are:

  • “good-for-you” foods
  • coconut
  • gluten-free foods
  • exotic citrus, and
  • “nostalgic” foods.”

Then, adding to the list are are the usual Top Food Trend stories that appear every January. Nani Steele sent me a whole passel of ‘em from Market Watch, the Food Channel, Slashfood, Epicurious, Yahoo Lifestyle, and Eating Well. I’ve boiled the trends down to:

  • Comfort food cooking with basic ingredients — lamb and pork are particularly trendy
  • Budget-friendly recipes are still in style
  • Regional ethnic food, particularly those of Korea, Morocco and Japan
  • Good-for-you foods, based on allergies and building immunity.

I’m sure magazine and cookbook editors and literary agents pay attention to these forecasts. Aaron Wehner, publisher of Ten Speed Press, told me they’re drowning in budget-friendly cookbook proposals right now.

Trend stories make me wonder: should food writers jump on these trends and suddenly pitch articles and cookbooks on coconut and exotic citrus, or other trends mentioned in these stories? If you’re a blogger, will you write blog posts with recipes based on these trends? How do these trends guide you, or do they?  What will you do with this information?

(Photo thanks to Stephanie Stiavetti of Wasabimon.com)

  27 Responses to “Food Trends — Should You Pay Attention?”

  1. As a blogger I pay attention to the things that matter to me, trendy or not. As a writer pitching articles I pay attention, but I don’t let it dictate everything I pitch.
    And truthfully, coconut is always popular in my world.

  2. I’m typically behind the curve when it comes to food trends. Unless something gets major attention in the mainstream media that it becomes a talking point, I won’t bother. Fads come and go. It’s not something to base an entire blog on.

    Our eating choices aren’t much affected by food trends. We’re just cooking what we want to eat and sharing what we want to share. If we happen to change our eating habits due to health, budget or time constraints, then that’s what we’ll post on.

    • I’m not sure I agree that you can’t base a blog on a fad or trend, Nate. Especially when it’s true to who you are, as in gluten-free.

      • I’d consider gluten-free to be a health condition. If we or our kids developed that allergy, then you’d see more gf recipes on our site. But it wouldn’t be because it’s a trending topic; it would be because that’s where we are, health-wise.

        I think there’s got to be a certain amount of authenticity or authority when it comes to writing. Sure, you can research all about a topic and write well enough, but when someone can say, “I’m going through this, and here is what I’ve learned” then I’m more likely to follow that writer compared to someone who’s put up a blog on a trending topic that they don’t care about, just to get the quick Adsense revenue.

        So I take back what I said. You *can* base an entire blog on a trending topic or fad. I just won’t read it, because I can see through the intent.

  3. I think it’s hard not to pay attention to what people are interested in if you are trying to appeal to a wide audience…but ultimately it comes down to what is relevant to your style and content, it’s important not just to pander, but to be authentic. It’s a delicate balance.

  4. In Italy Japanese food is currently very trendy in the foodblogosphere, given the travelling experiences of some very popular bloggers.

    While I’m more focused on “nostalgic” food, given it is also a way to learn more basics of cooking. Collaborating with a mom-blogger, maybe the budget friendly and good for you attitude is motivated by daily needs.

    It’s really difficult for me, as blogger, to follow all food trends.

    • Rosella, perhaps nostalgic food happens to appeal to you, so what’s wrong with that? It comes to you naturally. And certainly most everyone can use budget friendly and good-for-you foods, as you say. Regardless of a trend, these things are important to you.

  5. With the exception of specific cuisines being declared ‘hot’ (Peruvian in ’09, Moroccan in ’10), these trends are awfully familiar year after year!

    I will, however, admit to being pleased about coconuts listed as a Top Five trend from the Fancy Food Show, given how it has appeared on many of my most recent posts. However, it’s coincidental – I just happen to have a current coconut obsession. Otherwise, I’m terrible at following trends; I prefer to write, and eat, what strikes my fancy.

  6. To tell you the truth, after working in fashion for several years I thought food people would have more sense than to hang onto trends. Or fads. Here today, gone tomorrow I say. As in fashion, I tend to go my own way in food as well. We all do need to keep our ears and eyes open if only to learn about things, whether cuisines, ingredients or cooking styles, that we may not be familiar with and we should all try new things if we so fancy, but once I hear or see the word trend I usually just roll my eyes and look for something that not everyone and their brother is going on and on about. And the poor coconut. A trend? Haven’t we all always loved the humble coconut? What in the world makes it a trend?

    And I love your list: Comfort Food. Budget Cooking, Ethnic Foods and Good-for-you Foods. These to me are not trends, they just are, you know what I mean? They just all make good common food sense. And a wonderful dinner party!

    • I think coconut is a trend because it’s considered some kind of superfood, i.e. coconut water, and because the fat is considered good for you. For more see this piece in Thai Food and Travel.

      You have a point re the other trends. I suppose being budget minded is a trend now because of the recession, but I have always been that way!

  7. As a blogging and social networking consultant, I can tell you first-hand that blogs covering these topics are getting very popular. So, while it may be smart to start pitching these stories, folks should also take trends into account when picking a topic for a blog.

    • Well I suppose that’s true, from a popularity standpoint. But it seems to me that people choose blogs based on their passion. Am I wrong?

      • Popularity, passion and trend.

        Being an economist, I would say that’s really a sort of Bermuda triangle. It’s really difficult to say if trends are the results of passions that create popularity. Or vice versa, trends are a sort of marketing campaign that influences passions. Or even popularity of a blog or a magazine could create trends and passions.

        I agree with Strephanie, a blogger should follow trends at least in part, to answer to readers needs/passions/curiosities.

        I wonder if the long run popularity will benefit from following only trends. I really hope not.

        • Interesting, Rosella, about which drives which. Passion is a huge driver, so contagious. I’d put that first.

  8. I’m with some of the other commenters–I write what I’m interested in. If I’m interested in what’s hot, then extra-good for me. :)

    Of course, I’m not (currently) trying to get published, so I guess it doesn’t matter that much. But, I say: write about what is interesting to you as a writer and that interest will come through in your writing. I write about gluten-free baking because that’s my passion. I try to make it interesting to everyone, but it’s mainly to serve the population that needs/likes gluten-free.

    My sense about the concept of “fads” is that there are some things that are truly fads (like adding bacon to everything), and then some things that just happen to be part of the current awareness. Right now, people are really starting to embrace gluten-free cooking and baking (to which I say, “Thank goodness” because I love having more options!) because more and more people are being diagnosed as gluten-intolerant and it’s on more people’s radars. At least that’s what I think it happening.

    I think there will always be people who jump on the bandwagon of something in the latter category. For example: gluten-free cooking and baking is getting “hot” as a food topic. Some people hate being left out of the “cool kid scene,” so they will jump on it in a fad-like way. I don’t think these types will stick with it. But the folks who need and enjoy gluten-free cooking and baking will stick with it and enjoy the fact that their topic got some extra attention for awhile.

    I think if someone starts a blog on a topic just because it’s hot probably won’t stick with it in the long run.

    • I guess you happened to be sincerely motivated to study what’s become a fad, so you were ahead of the curve. Now you’re in the “cool kid scene,” as you call it. Yes, it’s too hard to stick with a topic if your heart’s not in it.

  9. I went to the June/NYC Fancy Food show and kept tripping over bacon in everything!
    Not in my chocolate puleeze.
    I guess that one didn’t make to the Jan show :)
    yay

    • It was a consideration but didn’t make the top five. But yes, it seems to be everywhere, as the country is in a pork frenzy these days.

  10. Madonna just invested 1.5 mill into coconut water…
    I remember drinking it fresh in Rio for like $.25 a slug right out of the shell.
    How things do change.

    • Really! Well, she must know something. I had it in Thailand like that as well, right out of the shell. It’s never going to taste as good from a bottle.

  11. I have a love-hate relationship with gluten-free as a food trend. With it trending, people try it out for a day, then go back. Those of us with celiac or other gluten issues cannot go back. It’s for life. On the other hand, it gets more exposure, people think twice about it and more better-quality gluten-free products become available. This newfound interest gets more celiacs diagnosed, and for a disease with 97% of sufferers undiagnosed and an average diagnosis time of 11 years, it can’t be too bad of a thing!

    • Yes, can see the pros and cons of your argument. But for you, it’s not a trend, and you must pay attention.

  12. Very bizarre! I just made coconut kumquat cakes a couple of nights ago after seeing some seriously cute little kumquats at the grocery store. Had no idea I was so trendy!!

    Oh, and Dianne, I am reading your book right now and truly love it! Thanks for all of the writing help!

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.