10 Food Trends Popularized by the Pandemic

Emily Heil wrote . . . . . . . . .

This year, many of us spent a lot more time in our kitchens than we could have imagined, turning out multiple meals a day and sometimes getting bored with our own rinse-and-repeat repertoires.

We were also cut off from our usual communities and seeking connections. And it turns out that bored cooks plus isolation is a recipe for… lots and lots of food trends, which bloomed on our screens this year like a thousand flowers.

Each of the everybody’s-making-it dishes that popped up this year spoke to our hungers — for sustenance, maybe, for comfort, for inspiration or just for novelty. Even if we didn’t join in for all of them, just watching was a good distraction.

Here are 10 things that fed us — or at least populated our social media feeds — in 2020.

Frog bread

Edible, lumpy amphibians with googly eyes were the antidote to the precise and lovely ethos of the #breadart trend that we didn’t know we needed. Bakers delighted in their imperfect creations, sharing photos of their goofy, cartoonish bakes — along with some badly needed joy.

Dalgona coffee

Many of us have given up regular visits to our favourite barista, and so dalgona coffee, a South Korean drink in which instant coffee, sugar and milk are whipped into a foamy blend, was a (super-sweet) stand-in for our coffeeshop fix.

Cloud bread

This airy, meringue-like concoction, made from egg whites, cornstarch and sugar, became a TikTok darling during the summer. It’s relatively tasteless, but its popularity probably can be chalked up to its ease of preparation — and that weirdly satisfying moment when people tear into them on camera.

Charcuterie chalets

Move over, gingerbread. This year, we fashioned abodes shingled with salami, sided with breadsticks and decorated with almonds. Maybe it’s because many of us have been housebound this year that we created odes to our too-familiar surroundings in a meaty medium?

Sourdough

Sourdough baking, like bingeing Tiger King, was a very early-pandemic vibe, fuelled by yeast shortages and an excess of time at home. People nurtured their starters as if they were particularly needy children, traded recipes for their castoff dough and photographed the pillowy interiors and artfully slashed crusts like proud parents.

Carrot bacon

These seasoned, crunchy strips of root vegetable became one of the few non-carby breakout food stars of the pandemic after vegan chef Tabitha Brown’s TikTok recipe got 3.6 million views. Bonus trend points: They’re crisped in an air fryer, the pandemic cook’s favourite kitchen appliance.

Canning

There’s something reassuring about having rows of gleaming jars of food you’ve harvested and “put up” for the long winter. That might be a #cottagecore fantasy for most of us, but enough people bought into it this year that retailers sold out of jars and lids.

Windowsill scallions

Our dreams of self-sufficiency were further fed by the craze for turning kitchen scraps into crops — even if only on a very small scale. Beyond offering a boost to a salad (or just a way to entertain a cooped-up kid), those little green sprouts might have been the glimmer of hope we needed.

Fancy focaccia

Dough became the canvas for legions of newly minted flatbread artists, who took to the trend of studding loaves with baked-in designs for edible masterpieces (van Gogh never had it so good). Floral motifs were the most popular, with herbs and vegetables forming intricate blooms.

Pancake cereal

Tiny pancakes piled in a bowl and drenched in syrup sounds like a breakfast that only Buddy the Elf would love. But plenty of TikTokkers joined in, apparently wooed by the combination of cuteness (miniature foods are a whole genre online) and the perennial popularity of cereal, and the platform dubbed the mash-up its top food trend of 2020.

Source: The Winnipeg Free Press

Sales of Vegan Ice Cream Have More than Doubled in Five Years

Amid an increase in consumers embracing a plant-based diet, research has shown that global launches of vegan ice cream more than double since 2015, according to studies from Mintel.

With data also showing that since the coronavirus outbreak more adults are considering a vegan diet. It would seem that the food industry is finally engaging with a sector where consumers are not only predominantly geared towards healthy eating, but also want to indulge in the occasional treat.

A rising trend for vegan ice cream that is not restricted only to those following a vegan diet, goes hand in hand with demand for a variety of flavour combinations.

Inclusions specialist Pecan Deluxe is staying ahead of this curve, with its present range of no added egg and dairy options including salted caramel sugar pearls, cookies and cream biscuit pieces and an eye-catching five-coloured sugar pearl mix. More recently, cocoa rich brownie pieces, cookie dough, oaty cookie pieces and a variety of the company’s praline nuts and seeds have been added to the list.

In addition to ice cream, food manufacturers wishing to broaden their appeal in the vegan market can now offer consumers a wide range of delicious and indulgent treats, as Pecan Deluxe’s inclusions are suitable for a much wider variety of applications including bakery, confectionery and desserts.

Liz Jones, Commercial and Development Director at Pecan Deluxe explained: “As the popularity of plant-based inclusions increases, we’ve developed our dairy-free portfolio to encompass a spectrum of tastes, which mirror those found in non-dairy applications, allowing manufacturers to add a touch of luxury to their expanding vegan lines.”

All Pecan Deluxe products, including traditionally made fudge, moulded chocolate shapes, brownie pieces, cookie dough and praline nuts, are made using natural colours and flavourings in strict allergen controlled, BRC A grade facilities. The company is constantly innovating to develop new flavours and textures and can create bespoke products tailor-made to customers’ requirements.

Source: Confectionery Production

Almonds Rank Number One in Global New Product Introductions

Elizabeth Green wrote . . . . . . . . .

As consumer preferences shift toward better-for-you, plant-based and natural ingredients, almonds offer product developers the freedom to explore and identify opportunities for innovation. That is according to Harbinder Maan, Associate Director Trade Marketing and Stewardship at Almond Board of California (ABC). Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst, Maan says: “Almonds are the current number one nut globally and have a powerful European story to tell.”

According to data from Innova Market Insights (Global New Product Introductions Report, May 2019), almonds experienced double-digit growth (13 percent) in 2019, with 12,206 new products with almonds introduced globally. For the first time in the report’s history, the Dairy category joined Confectionery, Snacks, Bakery and Bars as one of the top five categories for new product introductions with almonds, experiencing 19 percent growth compared to 2018. Dairy now holds an 8 percent share of total new almond product introductions. Almonds have been the number one nut for new product introductions since 2006.

“From a global perspective, we know that almonds are significant in a couple of categories such as snacks, confectionery and bakery, as well as dairy alternatives and bars. So in the US, especially, those are the key categories that we support from an ingredient standpoint and that we anticipate will grow,” Maan explains.

New and emerging categories

“When looking at specific categories on a global scale, Confectionery has seen the most growth, followed by Dairy, Bakery, Snacks and Bars,” notes Maan. “Those are the key categories that drive the greatest volume of almonds. There was a real effort against snacking several years ago, and snacking occasions is where we are driving our efforts in terms of messaging and research,” she explains.

Moreover, new almond product introductions across the Confectionery, Snacks, Bakery, Bars and Dairy categories account for 80 percent of global almond introductions. Still, almonds also experienced double-digit growth in notable emerging categories like Ice Cream and Desserts (17 percent) and Spreads (26 percent) (Innova Market Insights 2019 Global New Product Introductions Report, May 2019).

“This annual report captures the evolving work that goes into developing new products. It provides reassurance and validation behind using an ingredient like almonds and reinforces consumer demand,” says Lu Ann Williams, Director of Innovation at Innova Market Insights. “If you’re making a shortlist of ingredients to include in product development and seeing these numbers, they should give you a lot of confidence. Almonds continue to show growth and expansion into new markets because they have undeniable consumer appeal and align with desirable health and texture claims.”

Europe shows positive growth

Kathryn Martino, Consultant to the Almond Board in Europe, says: “Almonds have maintained their top spot in Europe for the fifth year and have taken the number one spot in new product introductions. But what is even more interesting is that Europe is leading the way globally for new product introductions. So this year alone, Europe is responsible for around 44 percent of the global almond introductions.”

Martino also highlights a double-digit growth (12 percent) increase in products with almonds being introduced in Europe. “There is real confidence in Europe from manufacturers who continue to sell almonds as a safe bet. Europe has previously been a traditional ingredients market, and we are seeing growth again this year in those traditional categories like you would expect,” she continues. “Interestingly, for us this year, and for the first time, we see dairy enter the top five, so that is an area that has piqued our interest.”

Meanwhile, she flags some of the emerging categories that have provoked interest this year, including Spreads, Sports Nutrition, Soft Drinks, and Ice Creams and Desserts. “We are seeing significant growth and interest in these emerging categories and looking at the market by market basis. Germany, France and the UK are the leading markets for us, and Italy, which is an attractive market for us, has seen the biggest growth of 20 percent in almond introductions in the country last year.”

Martino adds that there has been “some activity in the market which we believe is helping drive this demand,” so ABC keeps an eye on Italy with interest to see what continues to come out of that market.

Another point of interest in almonds is some of the health claims that are being used on pack. “Globally, the new product report has shown that health claims were observed much more frequently on introductions with almonds compared to total food introductions and again in Europe that is outpacing the rest of the world, particularly the UK,” explains Martino. The top health claims that have been observed include vegan/vegetarian, high fiber, gluten-free, natural and organic.

“This year, the use of vegan claims across our European markets has been notable, supporting the data from Innova Market Insights,” she notes. “Manufacturers are catching sight of this and responding by putting certain labels on their products. Again it’s not surprising to me given that such a high percentage of the population in the UK identity as being flexitarian.”

Increasingly, fiber is playing a more significant role in the foods that many of us consume. “Fiber trends play into the increased focus on a ‘back to basics’ health approach that we see, which I imagine will become even more prevalent, given that we are living through COVID-19. It will be very interesting to see what next year’s data will show,” Martino asserts.

“It’s no surprise that almonds continue to be a popular ingredient due to their versatility and nutrition, but how manufacturers expand almond usage across categories is more impressive every year,” Maan concludes.

Source: Food Ingredients 1st

Outdoor Dining Expands After the Covid-19 Lockdown, and for the French the Change Could be Here to Stay

John Brunton wrote . . . . . . . . .

Many of the world’s cities, Hong Kong included, have long had love-hate relationships with al fresco dining; diners would like to see more of it, while motorists and others who benefit from restaurants remaining indoors usually get the backing of the authorities.

As one particularly bold city emerges from Covid-19 lockdown, however, its residents are getting a taste of what a more outdoor dining scene feels like. Should Hong Kong diners dare to dream?

From Montmartre to Saint-Germain, the Bastille to the Champs-Elysées, Paris’ cafe pavement terraces have spread over once sacred parking spaces, even extending across whole streets. Overnight, bar and bistro owners have set up creative barriers to guard their newly won territory; luxuriant plants and potted vines, bamboo screens, plastic palm trees, even giant teddy bears on guard in deckchairs.

It is nothing less than a revolution, and moreover, it could be here to stay.

President Emmanuel Macron is moving fast to open up the country, to stimulate the economy, and flashing round the globe are images of Parisians returning en masse to sit out on their beloved cafe terraces, enjoying timeless rituals such as the morning café au lait and croissants, a lunchtime plate of steak frites, a chilled glass of chablis or refreshing pastis as sunset aperitif.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, in the midst of a fierce re-election campaign, immediately decided to allow bars and restaurants to try to make up for the loss of earnings during lockdown by extending their pavement terraces, a measure adored by her electorate and which will last at least until September 30.

Hidalgo has long campaigned to “give Paris back to Parisians”, banning cars from motorways, limiting traffic during pollution peaks, planting green streets and massively extending the bike lane system.

Her initiatives have been copied by cities around the world, and the same looks to be happening with this terrace expansion; London has already announced similar measures for its West End for when pubs and restaurants reopen there in July.

“I am convinced that some good can come out of this pandemic if we start thinking outside the box, take opportunities we have never dared to before,” says Yves Camdeborde, France’s “King of Bistronomy” (affordable gourmet cuisine), who oversees a row of trademark Avant wine bars, a seething bistro packed from morning to night, and a boutique hotel on Paris’ Left Bank.

“These extended terraces must become a permanent feature of what will be a new Paris – more beautiful, a more human city. Just look at the smiles on people’s faces. Let people sit out on the pavement eating and drinking immediately makes the city come alive again.”

The Town Hall has established strict but workable rules for this terrace revolution; each establishment must sign and display its own charter mapping out the new pavement space, agreeing to sanitise and keep it clean of cigarette butts, keep noise levels down for the neighbours, and be responsible for the safety of customers.

“Obviously, the municipality must impose a clear and strict set of rules that respect all the other people on the pavement, from mothers pushing prams to handicapped people and delivery men, otherwise there is a risk of anarchy,” says Camdeborde. “But given a choice between cars and pedestrians, then this is the moment to get rid of cars as much as possible.

People on the terrace of Cafe de Flore in Paris as bars and restaurants reopen after two months of nationwide restrictions. Photo: Marc Piasecki/Getty Images

People on the terrace of Cafe de Flore in Paris as bars and restaurants reopen after two months of nationwide restrictions. Photo: Marc Piasecki/Getty Images

“I know Asian cities like Hong Kong well, and there is no reason why this kind of regulated measures cannot be implemented there, too. Just have an open mind and try.”

The Left Bank’s legendary Café de Flore already boasts the most celebrated Parisian terrace, immortalised by photographers and frequented by the likes of Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Alain Delon and Brigitte Bardot. The owners have chosen to make only a subtle, intimate extension of a dozen extra tables. So now patrons can sit down for a glass of champagne outside the neighbouring bookshop L’Ecume des Pages, which invited Flore to colonise its pavement.

“It would be marvellous if it becomes permanent,” says shop assistant Julien Doussimault. “The neighbourhood feels more charming and our literary customers love it.”

Sébastien Dumont, head waiter at the Flore, is more pessimistic, predicting that “after September 30, I am sure they will think of some way to prohibit the new terraces, as there are too many entrenched political interests and motorist lobbies who are opposed to any kind of radical change like this.”

Some Parisians see both sides of the argument. In the nightlife neighbourhood around Rue Oberkampf, Patrick Fiori, a retired journalist, finds an oasis of peace at a table in the shady cobbled square outside his local cafe. “I am not a great fan of pavement terraces – too much pollution, cars and motorbikes roaring past, bikes and pedal scooters zigzagging between tables. I prefer an isolated place like this or under the trees in a park.

“I don’t own a car, but can understand that with parking spaces vanishing everywhere, motorists are obviously not very happy. But then all Parisians love complaining! The solution everyone should be looking at is closing off certain streets completely to cars and letting cafes and restaurants take over the whole space. That at least would be a radical, long term solution.”

Akrame Benallal, one of the rising stars of the French gourmet scene, has run restaurants in both Paris and Hong Kong. The young Michelin-starred chef had two fine-dining eateries in Wan Chai until recently, when he decided to concentrate on his core Parisian business.

“I believe in taking advantage of situations and for me, this is a great period to have new ideas,” says Benallal. “Just look at old sepia pictures of the City of Light; people lived outside, crowding the pavements outside their favourite cafes, bistros and brasseries. And that image attracted and enchanted tourists. So I hope this is the moment to return to those nostalgic times.

“Could this also be time for a change in Hong Kong? Personally, I worry that Hong Kong is just too dense, too crowded to cope with enlarging cafe terraces. But the tradition of street food stalls is so strong – why not build on that and select a certain number of streets that will be permanently closed off to cars, allowing people to eat and drink everywhere within a controlled and ordered area?”

Professional musician Claude Montis is playing soft samba during an impromptu performance on Cafe Chez Camille’s huge new terrace on the bohemian Place d’Aligre, near the Bastille. He enthuses on the cultural possibilities of an outdoor urban landscape.

“If these changes become permanent, or at least return every summer, then why can’t music, theatre, dance and art create complementary events alongside Parisians eating and drinking on terraces, creating a whole new world of possibilities,” Montis says.

Hidalgo is certainly categoric, saying: “Cafe terraces are where Parisians meet and enjoy themselves, the soul of our city, and I am favourable to permanently extending both these enlarged terraces and making certain streets totally pedestrian, as long as it conforms to rules we set down to regulate the situation.”

Sipping a coffee on the terrace of Montmartre’s Cafe Ronsard, Julia, a Belgian tourist taking advantage of the recent reopening of frontiers within the Schengen passport-free travel zoen, sums the situation up perfectly: “Just look at this fantastic view over Sacré-Coeur’s basilica. Let’s hope we can always sit out like this and enjoy it – Vive la révolution!”

Source: SCMP

Vegan Seafood: The Next Plant-based Meat Trend?

Christine Ro wrote . . . . . . . . .

Seaweed-wrapped deep-fried tofu, served in newspaper. Marinated aubergine slices pressed over rice. Chunks of legume protein coated in oil and herbs. These products are intended to mimic various fish dishes – fish and chips, unagi, canned tuna – and they’re all available now.

Faux seafood isn’t entirely new, but products are limited and many of those that have been available so far have been underwhelming and undermarketed. These range from bland tofish and chips served in pubs to rubbery faux shrimp sold in Chinese grocers’ freezer sections, part of the long tradition of imitation meats in Chinese Buddhist cuisine.

These products are ripe for the kind of innovation that has driven and expanded the plant-based meat industry. Yet faux seafood manufacturers seeking to make niche products mainstream face some unique challenges, from cultivating great taste and texture through to scaling costs for ambitious new offerings.

Small market, challenging product

At the moment, faux seafood is a tiny sector in the food supply chain. In the US, the country with the most vegan seafood start-ups, plant-based seafood made up only 1% ($9.5m) of the dollar amount of all retail sales of plant-based meat in 2019. (And plant-based meat, in turn, made up 1% of total meat sales.) Total research and development on alternative seafood has only amounted to $10m–$20m so far.

One issue is the technical challenge of replicating flaky, fragile seafood. That means shelf-stable mock tuna has been easier to produce than fillets, and the great majority of plant-based seafood retail sales are of frozen products. The few companies in this space also tend to focus on perfecting a single faux seafood product rather than working on multiple products simultaneously.

Another thorny issue is nutrition. “People typically turn to conventional seafood for health benefits. And so being able to come really close to those benefits is extremely important on the plant-based seafood side,” says Jen Lamy, the sustainable seafood manager for the Good Food Institute (GFI).

Yet that’s been difficult to achieve. Good Catch’s fish-free tuna may come closest, with a legume blend providing protein and algal oil providing a source of omega-3 fatty acids. Perceived health benefit is the main driver of flexitarianism in the UK, and flexitarianism is in turn the main driver of mainstream take-up of faux meat. So nutrition is key if alternative seafood companies want to expand their consumer base for currently niche products.

Rising demand, rising opportunity

Overall, it’s taken consumers a while to begin clamouring for plant-based seafood. Nutrition aside, it’s also because animal welfare concerns about lobsters and farmed fish may not motivate vegetarians and vegans the way pigs and cows do. This is partly cultural and historical: fish aren’t considered meat under Catholicism, for instance, and so their consumption is acceptable on Fridays during Lent.

Yet the UK opened its first pop-up vegan fish and chip shop in 2018, with the vegan menu subsequently being rolled out to all locations of London chippy chain Sutton & Sons. Vegan items now contribute about 20% of their total revenue, reports Sutton & Sons spokesperson Nicholas O’Connor. And the vegan menu continues to expand, from ‘prawn’ cocktail to ‘calamari’ strips and the recently added ‘lobster’ roll.

In general, alternative seafood poses an enormous opportunity for investors. There’s huge potential for replicating the many types of seafood that end up on dinner plates. As well, shellfish allergy is the most common food allergy in many countries, creating space for shellfish simulacra (after all, lactose-sensitive people were important to the expansion of dairy-free milk).

Some observers believe that the transition from conventional seafood to plant-based versions will happen more rapidly than the shift from dairy milk to dairy-free, because of the high demand for seafood and the dwindling wild supply (and as many large fish species can’t be easily farmed). And even if ethical eaters are less concerned about the welfare of marine animals, awareness of the human rights abuses in global fishing chains and the potential depletion of certain marine species may be compelling.

Scaling the start-ups

The last 18 months have seen a number of important product launches and fundraising rounds; for instance, the company BlueNalu completed a $20m fundraising round in February 2020. A single company or investor could have an outsize impact on the overall market.

So could a government. Singapore, which has been working to move away from its dependence on imported food, has become a leader in alternative seafood. The Singapore Institute of Food and Biotechnology Innovation began collaborating in August 2019 with the Singaporean branch of Sophie’s Kitchen, a US plant-based seafood company, on fermenting microalgae to produce a protein substitute.

And Singapore’s Shiok Meats, which is working on cell-based crustacean products, could well become the first cell-based seafood company to enter the market. Sandhya Sriram, the CEO of Shiok Meats, explains that the company has received grants, tax rebates and regulatory assistance from the Singaporean government thus far, and is hoping to obtain additional funding and manufacturing support in the future.

Cell-based meat, sometimes called lab-grown meat or clean meat, has identical cellular structure to animal meat but doesn’t require slaughter. Instead cells from initial “donor animals” are grown in a bioreactor. The cell lines can continue to be used over and over, creating great potential to reduce animal suffering – although for the moment the process is energy-intensive and divisive.

Sriram acknowledges that not all vegetarians and vegans will be on board with this kind of seafood of the future. “At the end of the day, cell-based meats are still very much meats to the biological and cellular level – so if you do not eat meat, for example, for religious reasons, cell-based meats may not suit you. But for me as a vegetarian, for ethical reasons, I can consume cell-based meats without any guilt.”

It will take some time to get there, in any case. A single dumpling made with Shiok shrimp would cost about S$150 ($107, or £85). Sriram says that the company is still at the “R&D scale” but has plans to grow operations and reduce costs. In general, cell-based and plant-based meats are still more expensive than the conventional versions; as with Shiok, this is primarily an issue of a smaller scale.

‘Early days’

Of course, Covid-19 has altered everything. The traditional meat supply has been disrupted by the spread of infection in crowded processing plants and fishing boats. (Mock meat products are easier to produce in socially distanced conditions.)

One result is that seafood consumption is down in some countries. Overall, demand for plant-based meats has risen since the start of lockdown. Some 23% of surveyed US consumers say they’ve been eating more plant-based meals due to Covid-19 (about twice as many as those eating more meat). The figure is highest among 18-24-year-olds. During the lockdown in the US, both animal-based and plant-based meats have experienced surges in sales growth, but the percentage gains have been much higher for the alternative meats. “Plant-based meat has grown a lot relative to this period last year,” says Lamy.

But it’s hard to predict the long-term effects of the pandemic on innovative seafood companies, which are prone to excessive exuberance about how soon they can reach the market or how quickly they can spread. For one thing, consumers are likely to be very price sensitive, so the higher prices of seafood alternatives may be more of a stumbling block than usual.

Yet there’s more capital and technology flowing into this area than ever before, and Lamy is particularly enthusiastic about partnerships between established seafood companies like Bumble Bee (famous for canned tuna) and Good Catch (getting more famous for faux tuna). “There’s room for so many more entrants in this market,” she emphasises. “It’s still early days.”

Source: BBC


Read also at The Telegraph:

Britain’s first vegan fish and chip shop has opened. But how does it taste? . . . . .