Three trend predictions for 2023 revealed at IFT FIRST

CHICAGO — Fake fish and magic mushrooms could appear on more plates next year, according to a study by food innovation intelligence firm Spoonshot.

Kishan Vasani, co-founder and CEO of Spoonshot, discussed three trends on the horizon during a presentation at IFT FIRST, the annual meeting and expo of the Institute of Food Technologists, held from 10 to July 13 in Chicago.

Minneapolis-based Spoonshot uses artificial intelligence, tapping into thousands of data sources ranging from menus and recipes to blogs and news articles, to predict consumer demand and identify opportunities for product development.

One such opportunity addresses the “absolutely vital” need for seafood alternatives, Vasani said, pointing to the rise of flexitarian and pescatarian diets. World fish consumption has doubled since 1998 and is expected to nearly double again by 2050; However, 70% of marine fish populations have been fully utilized, overexploited, or are under serious threat due to rising ocean temperatures, overfishing and unsustainable fishing practices, and pollution, he said. he declares.

“Plant-based seafood isn’t exactly new, but this category hasn’t grown the way dairy and meat alternatives have,” Vasani said. “Less than 0.2% of seafood launches carry plant-based or vegan claims, and attitudes toward seafood alternatives have been quite polarized. We analyzed product reviews and found that there were many complaints about texture and flavor.

Common ingredients in seafood alternatives are soybeans, beans, peas, and green lentils. However, ingredients of consumer interest based on online discussions include banana flower, a flower with a flaky texture, as well as seaweed, mushrooms and jackfruit, Vasani said. Potential applications may include convenience foods and frozen foods inspired by popular dishes such as fish and chips, fish tacos and crab cakes.

“We see a very real possibility of a future with limited access to fish and seafood,” Vasani said. “It has become absolutely vital that innovation in seafood alternatives happens now.”

Another trend to watch is the growing demand for herbal products with fewer, simpler ingredients.

“The call for clean labeling claims in plant-based foods is getting louder and louder,” Vasani said, noting that 10% of consumer conversations about plant-based foods centered on a healthy diet. “Consumers are starting to be put off by long and complicated ingredient lists.”

Product developers rely on additives to achieve texture and stability in herbal formulations. Methylcellulose is often used as a binder and thickener in meat substitutes but, Vasani said, “has come under a lot of criticism recently because it’s not a natural compound.” He cited citrus fiber, a byproduct of juice processing, as a promising substitute more likely to be accepted by consumers.

“As the plant space expands, food manufacturers will have to rethink ingredients,” Vasani said. “This development also means opportunities for ingredient suppliers to create clean label building blocks for plant-based foods to improve texture, flavor and appearance.”

Growing interest in foods and beverages incorporating psychoactive substances such as psilocybin or tetrahydrocannabinol as “adult functional ingredients,” Vasani also said.

“Chefs experimenting with cannabis look at different aspects of dosage and variety to provide their customers with a unique dining experience,” he said. “Packaged foods come into play…chips, crackers, chocolates, cocktail kits.”

Psilocybin, a hallucinogenic compound found in certain mushrooms, has been the subject of emerging research in the treatment of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety and mood disorders, as well as a handful of cookbooks, Mr. Vasani said. Several cities have decriminalized the substance. Consumers’ embracing of mushrooms for their adaptogenic or nootropic benefits paves the way for psilocybin as part of the “wellness culture,” Vasani said.

“While it’s too early to talk about full legalization, there’s actually a growing implication that many of these ingredients hold the key to dealing with the stresses of modern life,” he said.

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