By Leah Brickley for Food Network Kitchen
Can you even believe that we’re two decades into the 2000s? The past 20 years have been fun for food — kale smoothies, crazy milkshakes, avocado-everything. But you won’t be buzzing about any of that in the next 20 years. Here’s what will hit your grocery stores, kitchen tables and favorite restaurants in 2020, according to our survey data, industry research, and our eagle eyes and ears (and mouths!) out in the food field.
The woodfire revolution just got electric, literally.
Pellet grills have even, easy-to-control heat — thanks to compressed sawdust pellets heated by an electric rod. Fans (“pellet heads”) say pellet grilling is the easiest, cleanest and tastiest way to grill and smoke at the same time. In the dominant charcoal and gas-grill market, wood pellet grill sales have grown 9% year-over-year for the past 4 years, according to the Health, Patio and Barbecue Association. Companies like Traeger and Grilla have loyal superfans that share recipes, tips and suggestions for product improvement through Facebook groups — some 100K members strong. Wood pellets come in every flavor, from alder and cherry to maple and mesquite.
Country life = the good life.
The melting pot of the east meets the west.
With more than 11 million tourists a year, many of them from North America (with an appetite for exploring authentic regional cooking) Taiwan’s eclectic cuisine is having a moment. Chefs like Vivian Ku of Pine & Crane (LA), Trigg Brown and Josh Ku of Win Son (Brooklyn) and veteran restaurateur Eddie Huang of NYC’s Baohaus are creating dishes that spotlight Taiwan’s culinary diversity like beef noodle soup, pork belly buns, oyster omelets and fried chicken. Save room for dessert: Win Son’s huasheng runbing — kind of like a vanilla ice cream sandwich with peanut brittle and fresh cilantro — will make you rethink sweets.
Old-school pastries go DIY.
Weekend baking warriors want a challenge, and the cake pop so isn’t doing it. Welcome (back) the Jewish and Eastern European sweet, yeasted babka. It’s been taking Parisian bakeries like Mamiche by storm and Google search results for babka in the US are up by 18% year-over-year. Duff Goldman’s chocolate babka has reviews comparing it to a ‘top-notch, first class bakery,” and Molly Yeh’s za’atar twist on babka (made in a jumbo muffin tin!) is a fun new take on the dish. Homemade global pastries won’t stop here: look out for Czech kolaches, Scandinavian cardamom rolls, Japanese red bean buns and Mexican conchas next.
Sour and spice are very nice.
Pronounced ta-HEEN, this chile-lime salt seasoning has been part of the Mexican pantry for decades — but now more and more people are starting to notice it. Its versatility is endless: Disney’s been shaking it on their Dole pineapple whip for years, millennials are sprinkling it on everything from mango to popcorn and omelets. Google search results are up 127% year-over-year, so Tajin’s time is here. It’s a big and bold condiment that’s great on just about anything. Try this sandia loca (which means “crazy watermelon”) — our video has more than 35 million views on Facebook.
A Midwest staple goes coastal.
Consumers have high expectations for veggies (ahem, cauliflower): they need to be versatile, nutrient dense, a carb replacement and a meat alternative. Enter the mushroom — packed with vitamins and adaptogens (compounds that can protect the body from various stresses) and meaty enough to be mains like this mushroom wellington. NYC’s Dirt Candy serves a killer mushroom pate and Del Frisco‘s has turned maitakes into a melt. Look for mushroom extracts popping up in coffee, chocolate and snacks — like jerky and veggie pork rinds.
The chef’s secret is out.
Packed with umami goodness, the ‘bacon of the sea’ is the unsung hero of many dishes. Alton Brown slips them into his new chicken parm’s red sauce and New York Times columnist and cookbook author Alison Roman’s anchovy butter chicken is a viral sensation. Today’s homecooks are thrilled to pack their pantries with authentic, funky ingredients like anchovy paste which adds a quick savory burst to dishes.
Sundays aren’t just for brunch. Generation Z is putting on their favorite podcast or playlist and taking meal prep seriously, according to the Hartman Group. Inspired by meal-prep savvy Instagram accounts like @mealpreponfleek and @workweeklunch, people are letting us know when they’re prepping — #mealprepping has been tagged more than 600K times and peaks on Sundays. It’s essential for the busy and budget-conscious and has launched a new generation of smart, compact and good looking resusable containers like Yumbox’s bento lunchboxes.
Meat and cheese are a meal.
Grocery stores across the country are answering the consumer call for quick grab-and-go meals (that still feel special) by building out their deli departments. You can now find packaged grazing platters that only need the cover removed. Giant Eagle has implemented a BYOB program (bring your own board!) where they’ll fill up your board or platter with charcuterie goodies for a flat price. Look for other fun items in the deli like specialty olives, pickles, dried fruit and honey to go with your meat and cheese.
AKA cloud or virtual kitchens, ghost kitchens feature many different restaurants that only offer delivery or take-out — there’s no dine-in option. This allows for restaurants to operate for a fraction of the cost. The online food delivery market will climb toward a projected $24 billion by 2023, according to data portal Statista and large ghost kitchen groups like Kitchen United are ready to start serving. Look out for Rachael Ray’s and Uber Eats’ ghost kitchen collaboration to feature recipes from her upcoming cookbook.
Celebration without inebriation.
Say hello to the low-alcohol and slightly bubbly Piquette, like this one from Old Westminster. It’s essentially a second pressing and fermentation of grapes used traditionally in wine-making and almost tastes like hard kombucha. Millennials and Gen Zers are drinking less because of health consciousness and social media culture, according to Mintel. And Beverage Information Insights Group reported that bubbly sales were up 56% within the past ten years. So, this is prime time for Piquette, the crafted and higher brow option to the hard seltzers of the world.
Snacking gets lighter (and louder).
Thanks to food technology, it’s now possible to turn almost anything into an airy puff or pop — peanuts, chickpeas, quinoa and mushrooms have all gone crunchy. The puffed snack industry grew to $31 billion this year, according to IRI. Consumers are drawn to puffed snacks because serving sizes are low calorie and they’re made with little or no oil. It’s also a great place for manufacturers to pack in protein, functional ingredients and funky flavors. Look for: Hippeas, Keenwah quinoa puffs, Snacklins, Lesser Evil egg white curls, Sun Puffs and Bohana popped water lily seeds.
Families are ready for more veggies and less meat — and welcome the savings.
Kitchen gadgets get another upgrade.
Updated multicookers with new and better features make single-function small appliances unnecessary. Thanks to the cult following of the multi-cooking Instant Pot, sales for the category are up almost 80% to date and continue to grow, according to the home industry analyst NPD. Keep an eye out for the Instant Pot Max which now has a sous vide mode and the Ninja Foodi OP302, which features air frying and dehydrating. Cuisinart’s 2-in-1 air fryer-toaster oven has flat racks that eliminate the awkward barrel shape of first-generation air fryers. There’s also Mealthy crisp lid, which is sold separately and claims it can turn pressure cookers into air fryers.
Higher standards for processed foods.
Consumers are going to start looking at nutrition labels closer. By 2021 all food labels will include “added sugars.” That will help separate which sugars are naturally occurring (like lactose in yogurt) from those that are added (corn syrup in candy). More than 75% of Americans polled in a recent IFIC Foundation Food and Health Survey reported that they are trying to limit or avoid sugar in their diet. And many food manufacturers have turned to low-calorie sweeteners — like Splenda and stevia — to meet this demand. Companies like Ocean Spray and Simply beverages are using artificial or naturally occurring low-calorie (like stevia) sweeteners to lower total grams of sugars. Nestle has decided to go a more innovative route and is trying to restructure the sugar crystal itself to be less caloric. Watch out for their 30% less sugar line Milkybar Wowsomes that should be coming to the US soon. Bottom line: Consumers want more and relevant nutrition information.