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Food trends

Food trends




What wonders does the food & beverage industry have in store for us in 2018? For the past few years, the Waitrose and Whole Foods supermarket chains have been laying down the law, anticipating the food trends that will sweep the world. According to the list they’ve produced for 2018, we will be seeing very simple, yet high-tech, specialities boasting health benefits. Consumers will continue to be obsessed by one question: where does this food come from? Traceability, ingredients and wholesomeness will be the aspects to look out for when buying food, to the point where some consumers will be driven to farm food for themselves (using DIY agricultural machines like FarmBot). Purchases will be increasingly high tech: how many of us will soon be using technofoodology and artificial intelligence when shopping, such as Amazon’s Alexa device that you can talk to and do a number of things with, including ordering food? Let’s take a closer look.

The most important trends identified by Whole Foods and Waitrose are particularly nutritious edible powders, such as matcha tea, maca root, spirulina and even cacao. People like them because they are easy to add to dishes, making soups, broths and hot and cold drinks more nutritious.
Protein powders, the real Food 3.0 frontier, merit particular attention. Companies are specialising in refined flavours for balanced liquid meals that can be consumed on the go or for homemade meals with extra protein flours: muesli or porridge containing flakes and flours with low levels of carbohydrate. Plant-based protein is also in the spotlight: soy, seeds, algae and almonds. These will be the stars of ground-breaking products such as Heme, a protein created by the Impossible Foods start-up, which apparently mimics meat flavour perfectly and could become the most popular ingredient on vegetarian menus in 2018.
Then there are medicinal mushrooms, featuring varieties such as reishi, chaga and cordyceps, which up to now have been popular among athletes. From having been used as dietary supplements, they are now added to traditional dishes like broths, desserts and even coffee. Cordyceps has been introduced from Finland. It is made from matsutake mushrooms and apparently has all the health benefits of normal coffee without the side-effects that some of us suffer from, such as heartburn and tachycardia. Clarified butter, or ghee, is also one of 2018’s musts: lactose free, it can resist high temperatures. When it comes to the culinary trends we’ll be stealing from other cultures, Middle Eastern cuisine will be top of the list, particularly that of Morocco, thanks to its spices and their worldwide popularity: harissa, cardamom, cumin and coriander. This culinary/cultural exchange will also involve Latin American cuisine, which has seen a surge thanks to the fashion for new types of tacos and foods designed for different dining occasions. Last but not least, there is a new healthy way of cooking: air frying. What does air-fried food taste like? Almost the same as fat-fried food, but much healthier.

According to Whole Foods and Waitrose, we’ll be increasingly drinking ‘mocktails’: non-alcoholic cocktails. And what ingredient will be absolutely essential from now on? Timut pepper. This unusual pepper from Nepal is rapidly becoming popular among foodies all over the world and is perfect as an ingredient in cocktails. We will also become big fans of a new kind of soft drink that has nothing to do with the sugar-loaded beverages that have dominated the drinks aisles of our supermarkets up until now. These are natural drinks made from plants such as maple and birch that are naturally carbonated without the addition of carbon dioxide.

Diet and nutrition




After having been demonised by health fanatics the world over for years, butter is having its rightful revenge.

As far back as 2014, it ended up on the cover of Time magazine with the title ‘Eat butter. Scientists labeled fat the enemy. Why they were wrong’. Thus, the humble pat of butter has slowly made its way back into the kitchen. Even researchers studying social change have looked into the case. ‘We are faced with nothing short of a comeback as far as butter concerned,’ writes sociologist Enrico Finzi, ‘thanks to its sensory characteristics, which are often associated with the pleasure of eating and the extraordinary contribution that butter makes when preparing certain foods and recipes.’

In actual fact, much more lies behind the rediscovery of butter. A recent study by Coldiretti, the Italian farmers’ association, explains how ‘demand has increased thanks to the recognition of its health benefits: experts say that a portion of butter (10 grams) contains 24 milligrams of cholesterol, i.e. 8% of the recommended daily amount. But demand has also increased because, especially in professional kitchens, butter is used as an alternative to fats like palm oil, which is being abandoned by a growing number of industries.’ It is no coincidence that the price of butter has doubled over the past year in Italy. ‘In the last decade, the percentage of consumers who prefer this product has significantly increased, and it now accounts for 47% of the Italian population,’ writes Renzo Pellatti in his book Conoscere e Gustare il Burro (‘Getting to know and appreciate butter’), published by Daniela Piazza Editore.

While in the United States, people like Elaine Khosrova, the author of Butter: A Rich History, have invented the profession of butter taster, today in Italy the number of types of butter – produced by skimming the cream off whey or churning milk fat – is growing. Goat butter is the latest novelty: with its stronger flavour and pure white colour, it is easily digested by those who don’t drink cow’s milk. In contrast, clarified butter (ghee) has no water content and is casein and lactose free. In short, it only contains butter fat. What’s so special about ghee? It has a higher smoke point, so it is the perfect fat to use when frying, particularly meat, without burning anything. Then there’s low-fat butter, which contains a low percentage of fat (around 60% compared to the 82% of normal butter) and is perfect for eating ‘as is’ or spreading on bread.

Food trends




The market of high quality corporate presents is on the up. And for Christmas 2017 we are witnessing a return to tradition, especially in Italy, where large businesses are already moving with time to spare, choosing from the many food & beverage specialities the territory has to offer. Not only panettone and bubbles, but gourmet treats carefully selected for customers and collaborators alike.
After years in which we have seen a preference for electrical consumer goods and wellbeing experience packages, this year companies have returned to gifting high quality food & beverage products, often linked to good causes. In fact, there is a penchant for specialities coming from Italy’s earthquake-stricken regions, Abruzzo and Umbria, or from prisons, such as in Padua where 150 inmates are employed in a baker’s which has quickly made an excellent name for itself in the production of Christmas sweetmeats. Thus the customary corporate gift is given extra meaning: the receiver is pleased to receive high quality products while making a small gesture of solidarity.

So the market is growing, but only for the more evolved companies. Such as Hampers, a branch of Alifood that started working in the corporate gifts field in 2003. Working in this sector requires a background in marketing, logistics and customisation, as well as a perfect knowledge of the world of food & beverage. In fact, even the simplest gift is chosen together with the client, customised with the company logo or the receiver’s initials; then there is the packaging to prepare, delivery to organise. In 14 years of work, Hampers has established a perfectly synchronised supply chain enabling them to satisfy even the most complicated demands, throughout Italy and abroad.

Food trends




Organic Italian wine is going from strength to strength. In 2016, sales reached a total value of €275 million, up 34% compared to 2015. The domestic market was worth 30% of the total (€83 million, up 22% compared to 2015). However, most sales are made on international markets: €192 million, up a staggering 40% compared to 2015 (as opposed to the more subdued 4% increase in total wine exports). These are the statistics published in Nomisma’s Wine Monitor research, commissioned by the Italian Trade Agency’s ICE national institute for foreign commerce.

As far as exports are concerned, organic Italian wine accounts for 3.4% of total Italian wine exports, but this figure is part of a steady upward trend (up 1.9% in 2014 and up 2.6% in 2015), thanks also to the importance that organic companies attribute to exports. The survey demonstrated that organic wine exports are worth 70% of total turnover among the Italian companies interviewed (compared to the 52% importance of exports in the Italian wine industry as a whole). In 2016, 79% of the companies producing organic wines exported the quality and excellence of Italian wine beyond national borders. The main market for this trade is the European Union, which is the number one destination (worth 66% in terms of sales). Just as in the agri-food industry, Germany is the main market for organic Italian wine (accounting for 33% of the foreign turnover achieved in 2016), followed by the United States (12%). According to Nomisma’s Wine Monitor, the US market will drive Italian sales abroad in the next three years; there are also excellent prospects in the European market, which will continue to be a focus.

When the behaviour of foreign consumers was analysed, organic wine’s success beyond national borders was confirmed, as shown by the results of the survey, which analysed the behaviour and purchasing habits of two important markets: Germany and the UK. These markets are extremely promising for Italy, first and foremost because they are among the largest importers of Italian wine (22% of the wine imported into the UK is of Italian origin, while in Germany it accounts for 36%).
The interest in organic wine is demonstrated by consumer preferences. In Germany, 12% of consumers have tried organic wine at least once in the past 12 months, while in the UK the figure is 9%. As in Italy, both markets prefer still red and white wines, followed by sparkling red in the UK and sparkling white in Germany. According to consumers (42% in the UK and 40% in Germany), organic wine produced in Italy is generally of a higher quality than organic wine produced in other countries. Quality is a recurrent theme among the attributes that this wine evokes. Both in Germany and the UK, 19% of consumers indicate ‘high quality’ when they think of Italian organic wine, while 15% see ‘authenticity’ as its main value. Italian organic wine undoubtedly enjoys an excellent reputation beyond national borders, but there is still untapped potential: 84% of wine consumers – both in the UK and in Germany – are interested in buying organic wine that has been produced in Italy.


What is organic wine?

Organic grapes are grown in vineyards without the aid of synthetic chemical substances (fertilisers, weed killers, fungicides, insecticides and pesticides).
Wine-making takes place in cellars using only oenological processes and products authorised by EU regulation No. 203/2012.
In short, organic wines are the result of an agricultural and production philosophy that prioritises our relationship with the land and nature and, in general, the wholesomeness of the food we eat.

Gourmet food




Apart from the fact that gelato comes from Italy, people usually consider gelato and ice cream synonymous terms, but that is absolutely not the case. There are four main differences – let’s have a look at them.

1 – Italian gelato has much less fat. American ice creams have to contain at least 10% fat by law, while gelato usually contains an average of 3.8%. That’s because, unlike ice cream, gelato is made with fresh milk and not powdered milk or cream.

2 – Italian gelato is blended slowly, so it contains less air than industrially produced ice cream (10% air in gelato, 50% in ice cream). A balanced quantity of air is an essential step when making good gelato: it affects the consistency, smooth texture and appearance.

3 – Italian gelato is kept at a temperature of around -12°C, while industrially produced ice cream is usually kept at an average of -20°C. This makes an unmistakable difference to the product’s taste.

4 – Italian handmade ice cream is usually made in small batches that are consumed shortly afterwards. That’s why it doesn’t need the preservatives or additives that industrially produced ice cream needs to be stored for long periods of time.

A year-round market
If we analyse global consumer trends in frozen desserts (ice cream, Italian gelato and sorbet), one fact stands out: they are all products that are not influenced by the season or climate. If we look at per capita consumption per country, Business Insider’s league table surprisingly awards New Zealand the top spot, with an average of 28.4 litres per person per year, followed by the USA with 20.8, Australia with 18, Finland with 14.2, Sweden with 12, Canada with 10.6, Denmark with 9.9, Ireland with 9.4, Italy with 8 and the UK with 7. What’s even more surprising is the figure that reveals that, of all the states in the USA, Alaska – where the average temperature never rises above 19°C – consumes the most ice cream. In contrast, Texas, where the climate is decidedly warmer, only comes tenth.

The Italian gelato boom in the USA
Italian handmade gelato is increasingly popular in the USA. Thanks to the range of flavours, its nutritional balance and its ‘exotic charm’, it’s the perfect combination and a luxury that many Americans are increasingly indulging in, even if just to take in the typical atmosphere of an Italian ice cream parlour. If we look at the figures, consumption of Italian gelato in the USA has been constantly increasing since 2009, with annual sales estimated to be worth approximately $210 million. However, we should stress that although gelato accounts for a smaller share of the frozen dessert market, it is also the sector with the fastest growth (up 32% in 2016).

Diet and nutrition




Why does the best basil in the world grow in Prà, in the western part of Genoa? Soil and sunshine certainly have something to do with it, but it’s also a question of wind: the northern Mediterranean breeze that meets that of the Maritime Alps there. The best basil in the world is the result of a series of extraordinary circumstances that combine in an area measuring 18.5 square kilometres, nestled between the districts of Pegli and Voltri. If you take a step back and look at the whole of Italy, you’ll see that Prà is just one of myriad cases like it. That’s because Italy benefits from unique geographic conditions: it’s a peninsula surrounded by a calm sea whose winds meet the mountains that run along the length of the country. That’s why it’s fair to say that biodiversity – i.e. the variety of animal and vegetable species that live within a particular ecosystem – is one of Italy’s true treasures. As many as 58,000 animal species and 7,000 varieties of edible fruits and vegetables have been registered, including 1,200 native grape varieties and 538 olive cultivars: incredible figures if we consider that the country only covers 0.20% of the Earth’s surface.

The threats that menace Italian biodiversity

During the International Day for Biological Diversity on 22nd May 2017, the United Nations raised concerns regarding the danger of extinction faced by many species of flora and fauna. Italy, the champion of biodiversity, also has to tackle a number of problems, starting with the reduction in the range of crops grown at an international level. However, it is also true to say that, in recent years, Italian agriculture has become the most environmentally friendly in Europe, with the highest number of PDO/PGI certifications awarded to food products, and it boasts the highest number of organic farms.

Agriculture: the future belongs to the young

According to a memorandum drafted by Coldiretti, the Italian farmers’ federation, Italy is the only country in the world that can boast 4,965 registered traditional food products, 291 PDO/PGI specialities recognised at EU level, 415 DOC/DOCG wines and 60,000 organic farms. It is no coincidence that agriculture was the industry that saw the highest increase in employment in 2016 (up 4.9% year on year). According to Coldiretti, employment grew thanks to a phenomenon whereby many young people are returning to the land. Almost one in ten companies run by under-35s works in agriculture (8.4%), which amounts to a total of 51,123 farms, up 6% in 2016. Their work ranges from food processing to wholesale, from teaching farms to farm kindergartens, as well as recreational activities, social agriculture for fostering the integration of people with disabilities, park, garden and road maintenance, nature wellness, landscape gardening and the production of renewable energy. The result is that, compared to the industry average, farms run by under-35s are bigger (with a 54% larger surface area), provide more work (50% more) and have a higher turnover (75% more).

Diet and nutrition, Food trends




According to the Health/Wellness: food as medicine global survey compiled by Nielsen after studying a sample of 30,000 people from 63 countries, consumers from all over the world are increasingly concerned about how and what they eat and increasingly interested in discovering new healthy foods. Food is seen as a treatment/medicine, and diet is no longer just a nutritional regimen: it is, instead, nothing short of a way of life.

Why are consumers increasingly seeking out healthy foods?

Nielsen’s survey identified four reasons behind this phenomenon:

– The ageing of the world population;
– Growing rates of food allergies/intolerance and chronic illnesses;
– An increase in self-treatment and prevention;
– Consumers who are increasingly informed and online.

What sources do consumers consult when deciding whether a food is healthy or not?

Nutrition labels 34%
Packaging health claims (‘high fibre’, ‘low fat’) 28%
Medical/health-based websites 21%
Relatives/friends 21%
Medical professionals (doctors, dieticians) 20%
Magazines, newspapers or books 20%
TV programmes, films or documentaries 14%
Signs/labels on shop shelves/products 14%
Consumer blogs 10%

Healthy food in Italy

Italy was ranked the healthiest country in the world in the 2017 Bloomberg Health Index, which analyses the health of 163 countries. Italians are paying more attention to food than ever before, they are increasingly health-conscious and careful about what they eat. According to a report by Coldiretti (the federation of Italian farmers), the consumption of wholemeal foods is growing (up 11%), as is the consumption of gluten-free foods (up 26%), organic foods (up 20%) and vegetable drinks (up 7%). What’s more, Coldiretti has identified a trend linked to so-called ‘superfoods’: foods that combine taste with health benefits. The most popular superfoods include goji berries, adzuki beans, ginger (which has seen an increase in trade of 141% in a single year) and turmeric (with a 93% growth in trade). As well as exotic options (turmeric, adzuki beans and ginger are mostly produced in India and China), Italy also boasts a wealth of products that naturally aid well-being and the environment. Coldiretti has dubbed these products ‘Grandma’s superfoods’.
These extraordinary foods include Polignano purple carrots, considered nothing less than an elixir of long life, thanks also to the high quantities of polyphenols, flavonoids and anthocyanins they contain. Then there’s The barattiere, an old variety of cucumber from the Puglia region; it’s the perfect food for people on a diet, as it provides high levels of potassium whilst containing low levels of sugar and sodium. In the Calabria region, they grow Diamante chili peppers, known as an aphrodisiac. The red onions of Cavasso Nuovo, in the Veneto region, have strong anti-stress benefits and are helpful in the fight against high blood pressure and cholesterol. Last but not least, there’s Piedmont’s white carrot, which is good for the liver because it regulates bile production.



Food trends, Gourmet food



It’s winning over everyone: Michelin-starred chefs, food and wine critics, food bloggers, entrepreneurs and, of course, consumers. We’re talking about gourmet street food: the modern-day reinterpretation of street food that uses top-quality ingredients. It’s still a niche market but it is rapidly growing, particularly in big cities where the number of food trucks offering sophisticated delicacies from all over the world is increasing.

Today, meal times have changed due to busy lifestyles and the lack of spare time. So-called “metro eaters” eat on their way from one appointment to another and they have two priorities: quality and speed. According to food anthropologist Lucia Galasso – who contributed to research commissioned by Sanpellegrino, a leader in the beverage industry –gourmet street food is a vehicle we use to communicate our food values to others. It’s no coincidence that every food preference is catered for in large cities. What we are dealing with is a reaction to standardised food that could end up making us lose the sense of those unmistakable details that reveal the identity of a particular cuisine. As far as this aspect is concerned, street food is a tool that allows us to explore a territory and rediscover recipes that have been handed down from one generation to the next at an affordable price. And let’s not forget storytelling. Often street cooks are the repositories of an oral tradition of traditional cuisine: a pleasure that involves all the senses and wins us over through the stories they tell and their gestures.

A number of international cases demonstrate the rise of gourmet street food. The chefs at New York’s Rouge Tomate, a well-known restaurant on the Upper East Side boasting a Michelin star, have created the “Rouge Tomate Cart in the Park”, which offers a street menu at the entrance to Central Park Zoo. Italy, with its rich food tradition, is just as far ahead: Michelin-starred chefs Cristina Bowerman and Mauro Uliassi offer their specialities in the open air from an Ape Romeo three-wheel van and the “Uliassi street good gang”. The Michelin guide has also joined the fray, and in 2016 it ennobled this phenomenon by awarding a star to two landmarks of Singapore’s street food: the Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle food stall and the Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodles food stall.

Gourmet food

Italian Carnival rhymes with Venice

italian carnival


Carnival has just ended, but the party atmosphere still lingers on. All of Italy celebrates Carnival, but the most popular and famous carnival is the Carnival of Venice. It’s one of the of the oldest in the world and it’s surreal because it’s set in a city that is so mouthwatering, so picturesque that no matter where you look, it looks like a postcard. Continue Reading…