Now that we’ve all but settled into the new year, we took a look at the trends and flavors that consumers will crave in 2019. The short version? From an increased interest in Asian flavors (specifically, Central Asia and the Pacific Rim) to even more probiotics and plant-based products, 2019 will be the year of intersection; it has to be convenient and transparent, innovative but authentic to its roots, clean label and hyper indulgent.

Here are a few of our favorites:


Proving grounds.
It seems we have survived the gluten scare of the 2010s as bread is predicted to make an epic comeback in 2019. (Was it ever really gone? This East Coast flour and water enthusiast says no.) From clever little finger sandwiches to small batch, artfully scored artisan breads, the return of bread marks a continued demand from consumers for transparent, familiar and easy-to-understand foods. The danger? Like most “simple” foods, bread making is far easier to get wrong than it is to get right—both in terms of the end product and how we talk about that product.

 

More fizzy ferments.
While most are familiar with fermented and gut-healthy drinks like kefir and kombucha, you may not be as familiar with this Slavic specialty, kvass/kvas. Common in Belarus and Ukraine, kvass is a fermented grain beverage that gets its color from rye or “black bread,” and is often flavored with raisin, fruit or mint.

I was first exposed to the beverage about a decade ago through a friend from Belarus. We spent a few summer afternoons trading glasses, hunched over pieces of good, crusty toast with plain butter and tins of smoked sprats. At a time when borscht and stuffed cabbage made up the extent of my understanding of Eastern European flavors, kvass and smoked sprats were an intellectual and culinary revelation—one that I can’t wait to see hit the mainstream.

 

ugly ripe bananas, zero waste

Less waste, more taste.
“Ugly” produce and other companies aligned with reducing food waste will continue to grow this year in the form of subscription boxes, dedicated meal plans and restaurant specialties developed around the “zero waste” concept. While many food brands continue to scramble to meet consumer expectations for sustainable and ethical food, reducing food waste will continue to challenge food brands to support and bring to market more responsible and transparent food and beverage.

 

Early palette training.
Expect to see more sophisticated food hit the Kid’s Menu this year. As more and more families turn away from over-processed family meals, we’re looking forward to a menu that introduces new ingredients and cuisines to diners at a much younger age. The long-lasting impact of this trend is likely to completely change how we market, eat and share meals in the years to come.

 

Cannabis-infused beverages.
With widespread legislation in favor of recreational and medicinal cannabis, we expect to see the cannabis industry expand exponentially beyond the world of snacks and edibles and into mass-market beverages. While big players like Coca-Cola and Pepsi have only expressed provisional interest in the market, craft and micro beer breweries (like Laguinitas Brewing Co.) have already begun the process of partnering with marijuana companies in states where the substance is legal for recreational use.

These are just a few of our personal favorite upcoming trends. Looking for more? Check out these lists from sources we trust: