Welcome to 2020! With the new year, we are always eager to learn about the next food trends we can look forward to experiencing.

We sifted through food prediction lists from three sources: Les Dames d’Escoffier International 2020 Trends Report, Whole Foods Market Top 10 Trends for 2020 and Food & Drink Resources’ 2020 International C-Store Trends.

One trend noted by two of the three prognosticators is the interest in African dishes and ingredients. Teff flour is one such ingredient, found in Ethiopian injera, a sourdough bread used to scoop up food to eat. Piri piri peppers are another, used to make a spicy sauce with onion, lemon, oil, bell peppers and other aromatics that forms the base of many African dishes.

Africa counts two superfoods among its crops: moringa and tamarind. The moringa plant is often called the drumstick tree or the miracle tree because of its medicinal properties and health benefits. Tamarind may aid with heart disease and diabetes. The continent also produces sorghum, fonio and millet, lesser known but all nutritional cereal grains mentioned in the 2020 forecast. To get a taste of Africa locally, visit Uchenna Ethiopian restaurant in Old Colorado City.

From there, the predictions diverge in many directions. Here are the ones that caught our eye.

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Les Dames d’Escoffier International

Les Dames is an invitation-only organization of women leaders in the food, beverage and hospitality industry. More than 192 members were surveyed about trends in international food, restaurants, catering, retail foods, health and lifestyle, beverages and children nutrition.

• In the next year, the focus will be on regional Mexico, Latin America and Southeast Asia.

• In the next three years: North Africa, East Africa and the Balkans.

• In the next five years: Caucasus, the Balkans and East Africa.

The most likely international food concepts and flavors to become prominent food trends include:

• Piri piri (Africa/Portugal): Chile pepper for spicy sauces.

• Baharat (Middle East): A warm spice blend that typically includes black pepper, cardamom, cloves, cumin, nutmeg, coriander and paprika; used to add depth to meat dishes and soups

• Manakish (Lebanese): A flatbread dough topped with herbs, cheeses and meats that is similar to pizza and served for breakfast or lunch.

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Whole Foods Market

The grocer’s global buyers named their 10 top trends to watch in 2020: regenerative agriculture, new varieties of flour, plant-based vegan food beyond soy, West African foods, meat-plant blends, healthy snacks, everything butter and spreads, not-so-simple sugars, rethinking kids’ meals, and zero-proof drinks.

Here’s a closer look at the first three trends:

• Regenerative agriculture can have many definitions, but in general it describes farming and grazing practices that restore degraded soil, improve biodiversity and increase carbon capture to create long-lasting environmental benefits, such as positively impacting climate change. Products to try include MegaFood Turmeric Strength for Whole Body, MegaFood B12 Energy Ginger Gummies and White Oak Pastures Grassfed Ground Beef.

• New varieties of interesting flours are entering the market, making baking more adventurous. Some are “super” flours, delivering protein and fiber. Examples include teff, coconut and cauliflower flours. Products to look for are 365 Everyday Value Cauliflower Flour, 365 Everyday Value Organic Coconut Flour and Superseed Life Donuts made with a variety of flours.

• More plant-based vegan choices other than soy. Some of the products touting “no soy” in the next year are replacing it with innovative blends like grains and mung beans to mimic the creamy textures of yogurts and other dairy products. In the supplement aisle, some brands are swapping soy for mung bean, hempseed, pumpkin, avocado, watermelon seed and golden chlorella (a type of algae), maintaining the smooth textures in vegan protein powders and bringing a spectrum of plant-based amino acids to the table. Products to try are Ocean’s Halo (seaweed snacks), Organic No Soy Soy-Free Sauce and Organic Soy-Free Vegan Fish Sauce.

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Food & Drink Resources

International convenience stores are on the minds of this group of trend experts.

“In many parts of the world, there is a stronger convenience store culture than we see in most parts of the US, especially as it relates to food,” said Richard Keys, founder of Food & Drink Resources. “For instance, Taiwan is moving to un-staff its convenience stores and replacing staff with vending machines. Lately, 7-Eleven has been making noise about fully automating its stores. Tough to say when that will be the case, but the roll-out of ‘smart vending’ is proof things are headed the automation direction.”

According to smrt1.ca blog, “The Brain STEM Toolbox is an example of a smart vending machine with lots of powerful technology that enables it to interact with the customer through touch screens, social connectivity and flexible payment methods that include cash, credit and a digital wallet. It takes the data it collects as people interact with it and uses that data to improve the customer interaction to provide a better and better experience.”

Iceland is known for having many convenience stores with sought-after foods. Most citizens go there for pylsur (similar to American hot dogs) and skyr (yogurt). What got the F&D Resource team’s attention was hot pancakes being sold at a gas station.

“We personally liked the idea of one gas station preparing free pancakes for drivers and tour guides,” Keys said. “Hopefully this won’t end after a recent string of pancake pilfering and moves in Reykjavik to reduce the number of shops. We’d love to see this kind of hospitality spread.

That’s a lot to chew on. Looks like a great year for making new food discoveries.

contact the writer: 636-0271.

Food editor

Food writer for features life section and columnist for Go! Entertainment - Table Talk column

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