Editors at USA Today wandered the aisles of the 2012 Fancy Food Show mid-January to see what will have the food world buzzing. The West Coast’s largest specialty food and beverage event did not disappoint in helping them pinpoint 12 trends to watch for the coming year. Direct from that list, here are the top five:
Forget Morton. If it’s not Himalayan or Northwest Indian Salish-inspired, alder-smoked, it’s so 20th century. Salt’s in chocolate, on caramels, and sailing off store shelves. It’s the finishing touch to multiple dishes. At the SaltWorks in Woodinville, Wash., they sell Black Hawaiian sea salt, Bolivian Rose salt, Merlot-infused crystals and Yakima apple wood smoked sea salt.
2. Artisan chocolate
Small producers who carefully source their cocoa beans are turning out chocolate bars that can cost as much as a mega-bag of M&M’s, but taste a lot better. These bars are often all-natural and cater to grown-up tastes. Think lemongrass, lavender-blueberry or French toast.
3. Korean is the new Thai
The spicy, robust tastes of Korean cuisine are the latest Asian food to sweep the country. At Mother-in-Law’s Kimchi in Brooklyn, founder Lauryn Chun sells pints of the spicy-hot Korean signature pickled cabbage nationwide
4. QR’s on packaging
Look for Quick Response codes on food packaging in the near future. These fractal-looking squares that are readable by cell phone are showing up in ads right and left and will be popping up more and more on food packages. They’re a way for the industry to get more info out to consumers than they can fit on a package.
5. Seaweed for lunch
It’s one of the hottest trends in West Coast lunchrooms and starting to take off nationwide. Nori seaweed (called laver in England where it grows on the west coast) is roasted, salted, flavored and sold in lunch-box sized packages that keep it crisp.
For more on the above trends and to see all 12, check out USA Today’s Appetizing Look at 2012.