An Inside Look at the Art of Predicting Food Trends

All produce is delivered from an SQF certified warehouse.
All produce is delivered from an SQF certified warehouse.

Predicting food trends has become as much an American holiday tradition as ordering an eggnog latte. (Or, this year, mixing red wine and hot chocolate.)

Each December, lists of culinary forecasts pour forth from public relations companies trying to elevate their profiles, food companies looking to sell more food and professional associations hoping to guide chefs as they try to translate the zeitgeist into menu items. Social media experts have jumped into the pool, too, eager to show off their powerful search analytics.

Of course, the wide and bumpy field of food-trend prognostication has its share of players who build forecasts on research both qualitative and quantitative, and to whom sociology matters more than popularity. Still, the practice is more art than science, often based on not much more than noting what is already percolating in big cities.

“A good trend list requires everything from data and science to pure intuition,” said Dana Cowin, a former editor in chief of Food & Wine who presided over the magazine’s food prediction team for 21 years.

To see what’s hot for 2017, continue reading here.