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The next big thing 2008

Several trend watchers share food forecasts that can impact product development next year.

Suzy Badaracco, president, Culinary Tides, Portland, Oregon
Single grains. Manufacturers have paid a lot of attention to whole grains recently, but lesser-known grains like quinoa, barley, amaranth and faro are primed to get in front. This fits in with the emergence of Middle Eastern flavors.

Kevan Vetter, corporate executive chef, McCormick, Baltimore, Maryland
The rebirth of the common ingredient. Salt is being sourced from locales as diverse as Sicily and Hawaii and different varieties are showing up everywhere from casual to upscale restaurants. The same thing is happening with pepper. Other ingredients, including paprika and cinnamon, are poised to take off as well.

Jim Hostetler, VP marketing, Basic American Foods, Walnut Creek, California
Delivering on the promise of fresh. Technology is making it possible to use refrigerated packaging on more products—a delivery system that employs minimal processing and provides consistent quality and peak freshness and flavor. We’re also looking into how fortification affects flavor.

Lynn Dornblaser, director, Mintel Custom Solutions, Chicago
The “Amazonia” movement. Ingredients from the Amazon rainforest that are linked to wellness and healing are burgeoning. Exotic fruits like acai and cupuacu will rise due to their anti-aging benefits; these will show up in more beverages and food products.

David Schmidt, president, International Food Information Council, Washington, D.C.
New sodium replacements. Health-conscious consumers want to lower their sodium intake but they are not willing to give up taste. The industry is working on increasing the potassium in low-sodium products to meet taste expectations. 

Hudson Riehle, Sr. V.P. research and information services, National Restaurant Association
Packaging for off-premise. Demand for portability continues to build but there’s still a host of menu items and cuisines that aren’t being transported. Lots of research is going into preserving the integrity of food through improved packaging.

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