Trend-spotting SRG identifies 10 food and culinary trends of 2015

And Coconut Sugar is on trend!  Anyone reading this blog already knows it...and knows that Big Tree Farms continues to be a trend-setter and pioneer in all their products.  How are you using this "trendy" (and ancient) sweetener today?  Please leave us a comment below!

Check out the video here; http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-trendiest-foods-for-2015/

Sterling-Rice Group (SRG) has identified its top 10 culinary trends that will stand out on restaurant menus, expand onto grocery shelves and attract consumer attention across the U.S. in 2015.

Have you ever wondered how something like quinoa becomes a household staple when half of us can't even pronounce it?

Some new food trends seem to pop up out of nowhere and then get swept into American life like they've been with us for ages. So, how does a food trend happen, and what can we expect to see more of in restaurants and grocery store shelves in the coming year?

Kara Nielsen is culinary director at the brand development company Sterling-Rice Group (SRG). Nielsen, who has been been analyzing trends for more than 8 years, says trend-spotting in the food industry is a science that takes consumer data, demographic patterns and many other factors into account.

In order to come up with her company's forecast of 2015 food trends, "We took into consideration the consumer landscape, the food landscape, the market and channels for specific foods, and understanding where growth is going to come from," Neilsen explained to CBS News.

Neilsen's research gauges culinary shifts and captures the evolution of consumer behavior. She looks at societal forces shaping the course of our country, including aging baby boomers who are increasingly focused on their health; entrepreneurial millennials looking for opportunities to start new types of food businesses; as well as the growth of Asian and Latino communities with their own strong culinary traditions. Food trends are also influenced by core human values such as the desire for joy, adventure and community, she notes.

The goal of identifying food trends is to anticipate consumer needs in the future and help producers meet those demands.

According to Neilsen's research, some of the top food trends to look out for in 2015 include:

1. Coconut sugar

Neilsen says, "Sugar is evil right now. People in America are suffering from diabetes and other chronic health problems. Consequently there are groups of consumers looking for more natural sweeteners with a low glycemic index." Coconut sugar comes from the liquid sap of the blossom of the coconut palm, and it is collected and boiled until most of the water has evaporated, just like maple syrup.

The trend has been catching on with Paleo diet devotees. Coconut sugar can now be found in Target stores as one ingredient in Purely Elizabeth Ancient Grain Granola. But even though it's natural, don't go too crazy on the coconut sugar -- it may be lower on the glycemic index, but it still spikes blood sugar and should be used sparingly.

Next year, consumers' food preferences will be driven by a continued interest in global cuisines, balanced nutrition, community connections and a desire for adventurous eating experiences. Look for these culinary trends to expand and grow next year as they move from the cutting edge into our popular foodscape.

  1. Advanced Asian: From Filipino food to a new generation of Thai, not one but a host of more complex and true-to-region Asian foods will dominate in 2015.
  2. Matcha Madness: The never-ending quest for wellness and energy will lead many to Japanese matcha, a nutrient powerhouse green tea now hitting the market in convenient formats like lattes, sodas, and ready-to-drink cans.
  3. Cannabis Cuisine: Edible marijuana moves far beyond cliched pot brownies. In states where it's legal, look for new, sophisticated options from gluten-free baked goods and confections to bottled cold-brewed coffee and flavored syrups.
  4. Hop-Free Suds: Channeling their medieval predecessors, craft brewers are making unhopped beers with herbs, spices, and bitter plants yielding unique and intriguing flavors instead of hoppy bitterness.
  5. Incendiary Charcoal: Look for more excitement around Asian styles of super-hot burning charcoal as well as charcoal coloring and enhancing breads, crackers, and even cosmetics.
  6. The Local Grain Network: Products made from freshly milled flour are making their way to consumers thanks to the growing network of farmers, bakers and chefs committed to local grain production.
  7. Coconut Sugar Sweetness: Boasting a lower glycemic index than white sugar makes coconut sugar popular among consumers—from natural food fans to sweets-loving Paleos to Southeast Asian food lovers—looking for better-for-you foods.
  8. Farm to Table Kosher: With keeping kosher on the rise, kosher food businesses address consumer demand to eat in more sustainable, conscious, and cultural ways.
  9. The Hunger Games—Restaurant Edition: Dining concept incubators create lively experiences where curious diners test experimental eateries and vote with their forks in revolving pop-up settings or hip dining parks.
  10. The Ugly Fruit & Vegetable Movement: Misshapen and funny-looking produce will no longer get picked over as food resourcefulness and efforts to combat hunger come into sharper focus.

The 2015 Cutting-Edge Culinary Trends were compiled by SRG's Culinary Team led by Culinary Director Kara Nielsen and feature examples of trailblazing food and drink and the brands leading the way for each trend. An extension of Culinary Shifts™, SRG's proprietary research based on key societal shifts affecting consumer behavior around food, the predictions provide insight for food industry companies to better develop, position, market, and sell food products.