10 Food Top Trends Lists for 2012

Originally Published: January 6, 2012
Last Updated: February 18, 2021

I always like sitting back as trend predictions for the coming year roll in.  While each one can be insightful, when they are considered together (especially if from unrelated sources), larger themes emerge. Below you’ll find 10 Food Top Trends Lists for 2012.
A few disclaimers on the following list of lists include that they tend to be Europe and North American “centric.” Secondly, although I numbered the lists, the rank is arbitrary and not meant to reflect their quality or importance.

1. Leatherhead Food Research’s 10 Food Trends
The 10 food and drink trends that Leatherhead have identified are:

Older couple with healthy wine

  • Health and wellness
  • Sustainability
  • Convenience
  • Flavor solutions
  • “Free from”
  • Natural
  • Affordable luxuries
  • Location
  • Over 55s
  • Softer claims
Comment from source: “2012 looks set to be one in which on-going trends will be stretched to their full potential, particularly as consumer concerns about health and wellness have prevailed and continue to be high on the agenda,” says Laura Kempster, Senior Market Analyst. “Coupled with this, the uncertain economic future continues to affect both industry and consumers with a ‘tightening of belts’ attitude still very much affecting spending and investment.”
Source: Leatherhead Food Research

2. FoodNavigator-USA Predicts Top Five Industry influences in 2012
  • The 2012 Farm Bill
  • Functional (and whole) food for seniors
  • Kids’ nutrition
  • Food safety
  • The natural debate

3. New Nutrition Business 10 Key Trends in Food, Nutrition and Health 2012

Photo of carton of milk

  • “Naturality” or “natural functionality”
  • Energy
  • Digestive health
  • Feel the benefit
  • Weight management
  • Movement (muscle, bone and joint health)
  • Senior nutrition
  • Who needs health claims when you have fruit & vegetables
  • Dairy
  • Good grains
    Source: New Nutrition Business, Accessed January 6, 2012

4. Comax Culinary Trends
> Ethnic Fusion unites unexpected flavors:
photo of an asian eating a taco

Asian tacos, a food exemplifying ethnic fusion, will be on-trend.

  • Jasmine Coconut
  • Curry Mole
  • Asian Taco
  • Fiery Mango Pineapple Chutney
> The Pickled Paradise category:
  • Pickled Mango
  • Pickled Jalapeno
  • Kimchi
  • Pickled Watermelon
  • Pickled Ginger with Wasabi
>For a fanciful infusion of the taste of distinctive wines:
  • Japanese Plum Wine
  • Italian Muscato Wine
  • Sauvignon Blanc Wine
  • Spanish Madeira Wine
> Within the Regional Reverie category:
    • Herbs of Provence
    • Lemon Parsley
    • Thai Basil or Garlic Basil
    • Ginger Rosemary
      Comment from source: For 2012, Comax Flavors has developed enticing new flavor sensations and unique combinations from around the world, based on Culinary Trend Exchange™ data gathered from food visionaries throughout 2011.

5. Sensient Flavor’s 2012 Flavor Trend Predictions
photo of the fruit lucuma

Lúcuma is a nutrient dense fruit from Peru.

  • Aji Amarillo
  • Black Garlic
  • Coriander
  • Honeycrisp Apple
  • Lucuma
  • Peach Rosemary
  • Pink Peppercorn
  • Plum
  • Spicy Caramel
  • Varietal Vanilla
    Source: Sensient Flavors (from Perfumer Flavorist)

6. Innova Market Insights: Top Trends for 2012
  • “Pure” is the New Natural
  • Green is a Given
  • Location, Location, Location
  • Premium Stands Out
  • Seniors Draw Attention
  • Forty is the New Twenty
  • Grounded in Science
  • Regulators Force a Rethink
  • Unmeasurable Niches
  • Boom for Protein
    Source: Innova Market Insights Press Release

7. Food Channel Top Ten Food Trends for 2012
  1. Black Market Foods (intentional scarcity)
  2. Inconspicuous Consumption (spending quite a bit, but making it look like we’re not really spending much)
  3. Social Media: Finding Common Ground and Common Courtesy
  4. Shopping Schizophrenia (On the one hand, we have to fit our food styles to our paychecks. On the other, we have to feed our soul.)
  5. Beyond Ramen Noodles (Colleges have been forced to provide a wide-ranging food experience for the younger generation, who expect more out of what they put in their bodies than previous generations)
  6. So THAT’s What it Tastes Like! (Less sodium, fresher locally-sourced produce, and fewer smokers on premise means people are tasting ingredients as they were meant to be)
  7. The New Agri-Chef (a new breed of chefs that simply like to cook with what they’ve grown)
  8. Groovin’ On Peruvian (Peruvian cuisine may be the next Big Thing on the ethnic culinary scene)
  9. Social Cooking (Who would have thought we needed kitchens outdoors?)
  10. The Rise of the YouTube Chef (Everyone is their own food TV star these days. All it takes is a simple camera and a YouTube account)

Comment from the source: The Food Channel has released our 2012 Trends Forecast – the top ten food trends we see for the coming year. This report is put together in conjunction with CultureWaves®, the International Food Futurists® and Mintel International.

Source: The Food Channel website

8. Technomic Top Trends 2012
  • Consumers Seek a Twist on the Familiar
  • Commodities Costs Drive Rustic Fare Made In-House:
  • The Next Steps in Local Sourcing
  • Social Networking Influence Accelerates
  • Customers Want More Information
  • Operators Try to Resist Discounting
  • Brands Expand Through Flexible Formats
    Source: Technomic

9. 2012 Food Trends to Watch
    • Trend #1: Food prices
    • Trend #2: Never shop or eat alone again
    • Trend #3: The Baby Boomers keep right on truckin’
    • Trend #4: Increased emphasis on the “Farm to Fork” journey
    • Trend #5: The end of the checkout lane
    • Trend #6: The ethnic food revolution
    • Trend #7: The new role of the male shopper
    • Trend #8: Eating at home – Xtreme home cooking
    • Trend #9: How sweet it isn’t
    • Trend #10: The sound of food

10: Restaurant Hospitality Top Food Trends 2012
Restaurant Hospitality magazine offers 14 trends. Click on the source below to read then all. The last one is one of my favorites:
Trend #14 – Three Cautionary Trends
  • Misuse of words like “artisan” and “heirloom” and “local” will pollute their meaning, especially as chains co-opt them for marketing slogans. Adding a whole grain to factory bread doesn’t make it “artisan” and not all misshapen tomatoes are “heirlooms” from “local” growers. “Green” and “sustainable” fall into this category, too.
  • There’s a looming oversupply of farmers markets.
  • Too many chefs are smoking too many foods.