Predictions For 2019's Biggest Food Trends Are In — & They Sound (Mostly) Delicious

Photographed by Ali Gavillet.
For better or worse, we're not yet at the moment in the "future" where we pop a Willy Wonka gobstopper and immediately enjoy a full meal. But when 2019 comes along, there will probably be a few things on our tables we never imagined just a few years ago. This is the time of year when industry groups and grocery chains like Whole Foods start getting us excited about the hot new food trends of the coming year.
So what's the forecast? Well, it looks like we'll be eating more things from labs, but also ancient traditional foods from far-off lands. We will also eventually have the choice of whether we get those foods at the store, delivered to us in meal kits, pick them up in a fast-casual restaurant, or have them served to us by robots. Oh, maybe this is the future we once imagined. Read on to see all the food predictions for 2019 we could gather.
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Cannabis in Everything
As marijuana laws continue to loosen, more and more food manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon, notes food consultant company Baum + Whiteman in its annual trend forecast. Many are making CBD-infused beer, coffee, and snacks, which are sort of legal everywhere. In places where recreationally legal, THC is also getting into commercially produced drinks and edibles beyond the dispensary.
New Probiotics
While Kroger's trend report just now realized that probiotics are a thing, Whole Foods' 2019 list has us looking forward to "shelf-stable" foods containing the gut-friendly bacteria. Those include granola, nut butters, bars, and soups. Benchmark Hospitality predicts that more restaurants and boutique hotels will be serving house-made kombucha, kimchi, and other fermented foods.
The Specialty Food Association's Trendspotter Panel goes beyond those standards to identify the next "fermented functional beverages": chaga mushroom, lion's mane, cordyceps, drinking vinegars, and the traditional Slavic/Baltic drink kvas made from rye bread.
Food industry consulting company, Technomic, predicts that traditional sauces from Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey, such as pomegranate molasses and tahini, will be finding "innovative applications."
Motherless Meat & Other Sustainable Substitutions
We're another step closer to meat from a lab, Baum + Whiteman says, as the company Just is planning on putting its ground chicken product (made from chicken cells grown in a plant-based medium) in international KFC restaurants next year. In the meantime, Whole Foods is excited about slightly less scary faux meat snacks, like jerky and "pork rinds" made from mushrooms.
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The Specialty Food panel believes that the desire for sustainability will drive the popularity of "root-to-stem" foods that make use of ingredients that used to be considered waste, like pulp and rescued bananas. (More of those upcycled leftovers are being turned into packaging, too.) Benchmark is all about warning us of more bug-based foods hitting grocery store shelves.
Robot Takeover
Robots are are already making pizza in France and serving coffee in San Francisco, Baum + Whiteman points out, so we'll probably see more AI in restaurants soon. That can't be good news for the job market.
High-End Fast Casual
Another reason for waiters to worry: There's a new model of fast-casual that serves slightly more gourmet food at slightly higher price points for people looking for a nice meal out but willing to walk to the counter to get it, Baum + Whiteman says.
New Greens & Veggies
Now that everyone loves nori, Whole Foods believes our palates are ready for other marine-based foods like water lily seed puffed snacks, kelp jerkies, and faux tuna made from algae. In land-based news, Benchmark says that sorrel, dandelion greens, and amaranth are the new kale. Also cassava is becoming a new go-to ingrediant for chips, jerky, and even tortillas, according to Specialty Foods.
Fats and Proteins We Love
Whole Foods says there will be more foods and drinks made with MCT oil, coconut butter, and ghee on offer. Beauty fanatics will also find more ways to eat and sip their collagen, argan oil, and almond oil, according to Specialty Foods.
Food Designed For Insta Stories
Since photographic food porn has been mostly replaced by video, some restaurants are serving dishes that make sounds, move, or change color, just to impress on social media, notes Technomic.
Meet Your New Fave Sandwiches
Katsu sandos are Japanese sandwiches of fried, breaded pork, crustless bread, cabbage slaw, and spicy sauce, that might be the next big thing in stateside indulgent lunches, Baum + Whiteman says.
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