The Food Trends of 2015 Part 2, From Marijuana in Foods to Fish Sperm.

So we are back again with part 2 of our predictions of the food trends to look out for in 2015. From marijuana to fish sperm... This is going to be an interesting year if these hold up.

Seaweed

Seaweed is being pushed from several angles, the dominant of which is that it is extremely healthy, containing a bunch of nutrients that are quite difficult to get from other sources such as vitamin B12. The other angle is that it is a natural source of umami flavours, while there isn’t really anything wrong with good old MSG (1), the public perception of it is dominantly negative despite effort to sway them otherwise by celebrity chefs (2) (3) and researchers (4). As such seaweed is seen as one alternative for that, particularly in fish products due to its flavour.

Kokumi

Kokumi is seen as the next umami (5). Another Japanese development but this time research has shown that kokumi flavours are triggered by calcium receptors on the tongue. This makes evolutionary sense as calcium is one of the major nutrients we need to continually replace in order to be healthy, along the same lines as salt. Kokumi is not really a flavour in itself though, it acts as a direct flavour enhancer, providing length of flavour and some depth, similar to umami. The classic example of kokumi is from aged cheeses, particularly Old Amsterdam but also in more unusual things such as Milt which is essentially fish sperm. There will be more on Kokumi and its development in a later blog post. If this becomes a trend, we foresee a switch in things like cheeses in order to promote this aspect but the replacement of chemical flavour enhancers with fish sperm? Maybe not.

Fermentation

Fermented products are seen as a way to get a natural umami/salt hit, they are also seen as sustainable due to the impact preserving food in this way has on food waste. As such the trend for fermented products is a kind of by-product of everything else that is going on. This really isn’t a bad thing but it can be held back by the lack public willingness to try something new.

Neurogastronomy

Crossmodal sensory research (6) refers to the idea that our perception of a food product is affected by many other aspects than its taste and texture. The environment you are eating for example is a big aspect, temperature that the food is served, memories of having eaten this food in the past, sound and the company you are with also play huge parts in the whole experience. There is the prediction that some of the major retailers may take a grasp at some of the research produced by Charles Spence and Heston Blumenthal and see what type of products they can make or how they can improve current lines with these aspects in mind during development. As with Kokumi, There will be blog post dedicated to this topic in the future as it could well be one of the major innovations to come into food soon.

More Health Food

Health food in general does not seem to be going away any time soon, there is constantly the drive for low fat, sugar, salt, natural or products that are high in a particular nutrient. What does appear to be happening is that the public are getting a little wiser to it and are keener to look into what some of these buzzword nutrients like anthocyanin’s actually do for us. More on replacement as innovation in a future article.

Genetically Modified Produce

With the new ruling that EU member states can govern their own legality of genetically modified products (7), I can see this argument coming to the forefront of public attention this year. The debate so far though has been a little one sided. The yes camp has good arguments for why GM should be widely developed and the no camp tend to reply with little more than “because we don’t want it” without giving just cause. At Bingham and Jones we would remain firmly on the fence as it does have potential but in America it has purely been a tool for profit by major corporations and none of the promised nutritional or health benefits have come to light.

Corporate Social Responsibility

We also can’t really see some of the other ongoing trends going away such as the push for sustainability, waste reduction and overall corporate social responsibility. These trends seem to be a given these days but we would like to read some numbers on how much the public really does care vs how much the corporations believe people care about these types of messages. Our thoughts typically are that if we can have these things without major extra costs, they are good.

Marijuana

There were a few repeating outliers in the trends articles for this year such as the use of Marijuana in foods. This may well become a thing as more states in the US make the sale of it legal however it is unlikely to become a trend in the UK any time soon due to legality issues.

That about sums everything up. Obviously there are a lot more things predicted than these but these are the ones that stand out to us. If you wish to read more on any of the topics or if you have an interest in finding out about some of the other predicted trends (8) that are out there, check out some of the links below.

1) Research on MSG: http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-10-03/science-suggests-msg-really-isnt-bad-your-health-after-all

2) Heston Blumenthal on MSG: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinknews/11156357/Heston-Blumenthal-says-idea-MSG-is-bad-for-you-is-old-wives-tale.html

3) David Chang & Harold Mcgee on MSG: http://luckypeach.com/on-msg-and-chinese-restaurant-syndrome/

4) Research on "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome": http://hss.sas.upenn.edu/system/files/ChineseSyndrome%20schom.pdf

5) Kokumi: http://www.umamiinfo.com/2013/01/kokumi-experience-report-by-dr-harold-mcgee-1.php

6) Crossmodal Sensory Research: http://www.psy.ox.ac.uk/research/crossmodal-research-laboratory

7) The new law on GM: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-30794256

8) Restaurant Trends: http://www.restaurant.org/Downloads/PDFs/News-Research/WhatsHot2015-Results.pdf

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