Spotlight on the Hottest Food Trends for 2023 December 2022As 2022 begins to wind down, we are found reflecting on the past year and looking ahead to what is on the horizon in the New Year. It is also that time of year when many food companies and data houses come out with their trend predictions for the upcoming year. We at Lentils.org love deep diving into the forecasts and expectations of food, operations, and consumers and we are pleased to see so many of the top trends aligning with lentils and what they bring to the menu.The National Restaurant Association (NRA) partnered with the American Culinary Federation (ACF) and Technomic to bring their What’s Hot 2023 Culinary Forecast where they found the following relevant trends topping their Top 10 List for 2023:Lentil Raheb is a globally-inspired salad with all the fresh flavors of Lebanese cuisine.Fried Chicken Sandwiches – as the chicken sandwich wars continue to rage on, did you know that reformulating batter and breading systems with red lentil flour can create crispier coatings that hold longer, plus other benefits? – read more here.Comfort Fare – explore our round-up of comfort recipes.Flatbread Sandwiches/Healthier Wraps – this trend is one we love, check out some of our favorite concepts including the folded flatbread sandwich called a Piadini, and our super healthy Indian-inspired wrap called a Frankie.Globally Inspired Salads – global cuisine is a great anchor to create exciting LTO’s from your standard salad or power bowl concept – explore some of our favorites here.Zero Waste/Sustainability – learn more about all of the impactful ways that lentils and lentil production helps to create a more sustainable food system.Lentil & Corn Elote Salad is our favourite way to enjoy the latest elote trend.Other interesting call-outs included Globally Inspired Sandwiches in the “Ones to Watch” emerging trends category, Veggie-Forward Breakfasts in the Top 3 for the breakfast daypart, Flatbread Sandwiches in the Top 3 for the lunch daypart, and Elote in the Top 3 for the side dish daypart.In Whole Foods Market’s Top 10 Food Trends for 2023, sustainability and regenerative agriculture once again stands out with ‘Climate Conscious Callouts’ surfacing in their top 10 list highlighting that brands are working to improve their labels to talk about sustainability efforts and improve the impact of food production. Comfort foods are also highlighted in this report with ‘Retro Remix’ – according to Mintel Global Consumer Research, 73% of U.S. consumers enjoy things that remind them of their past, setting the stage for nostalgic treats to go mainstream, and many are being reinvented with better ingredients and special diets in mind. Finally, ‘Produce Meets Pasta’ was called out where vegetables and pulses, especially red lentils, are being featured in many clean label pasta products hitting retail shelves.Plant-Based Lentil Bolognese – the ultimate comfort food.In Nourish Food Marketing’s 2023 Trend Report, they predict the continued ‘Rise of the Reducetarianism’ – an act of trading “either/or” for “everything but less”. This is a trend we have been attune to for the past several years, and seen especially with younger generations, particularly Gen-Z where a desire to eat a large variety of foods, especially plants, while perhaps eating less animal protein, without excluding anything. The Nourish report also highlights the importance of sustainable and innovative farming in their ‘From Science Fiction to Science Farming’ and ‘Solidarity for Sustainability’ call-outs which aligns so well with everything our lentil farmers stand for.In the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) 2023 Flavor Forecast, they highlighted street foods (like arepas, poutine, elote (pictured above), and chaat) as a trend that is only going to continue building as a means to showcase authentic cultural flavors and appealing to consumers looking for new experiences. They also highlight nostalgic foods and the newer ‘newstalgic’ foods that focus more on plant-based or plant-forward items oozing with comfort.This Lamb, Lentil & Arugula Piadini is a delicious globally-inspired flatbread sandwich.In closing, the future looks bright for the food industry – despite inflation putting pressure on consumers’ wallets, a desire to gather and socialize while dining out of home is still a priority for many. At the same time consumers are looking for more from their food, whether it is a sense of adventure by exploring globally inspired foods, seeking comfort through nostalgic foods, or seeking more sustainable foods and ingredients.For help or inspiration in translating these trends onto your menu, reach out to our team for a one-on-one innovative session by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org.