Look Ahead 2013

Drinking Your Dinner and Bulgur With Your Burger: Food Trends for 2013

Plus, Is Meat Going Out of Style -- Again?

Published on .

Happy New Year. Now get cracking: We outline challenges for 2013 and offer up some predictions

Drink your dinner

Is it a food or a drink? Marketers in 2013 will continue to experiment with putting traditionally solid foods into liquid form, while pitching drinks as replacements for solid meals. The moves come as consumers put a premium on convenience. Kellogg Co. recently rolled out "Breakfast to Go" shakes billed as providing a "nutritious and filling breakfast that helps give consumers the energy they need to get through the busy morning, even if they don't have time to sit at the breakfast table." Meanwhile, PepsiCo is moving forward with plans to put snacks in beverage form. The company has a "whole range of products … in the pipeline that are value-added products that can be snacks made into beverages," CEO Indra Nooyi said recently at Beverage Digest's Future Smarts conference, according to Bevnet.com. "A way to grow the beverage business is to take foods and drinkify them," she added.

Number 1

Heat's on meat

Is meat going out of style? Yes, we've heard this one before, but 2013 might be a watershed year for the meatless movement. One reason is that last summer's drought is expected to boost the price of beef and chicken. So consumers will increasingly look for energy from so-called "new proteins," says Phil Lempert, who runs supermarketguru.com. "A major shift is anticipated in the nation's protein food supply away from meat-based proteins and shifting to meatless proteins like eggs, nut butters, tofu, beans, legumes, with an increase in awareness and consumption of vegetarian and vegan meals," Mr. Lempert reported recently as part of his "Top 10 Food Trend Predictions for 2013." The trend also holds for restaurants. Technomic in its 2013 outlook said that vegetables and other meatless options, such as veggie burgers, will continue to evolve. While major chains may not roll out vegetarian-specific menus in the near term, chains such as McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's have revamped veggie-centric items such as salads.

Salad or fries with that?

Though a bulgur salad may not be on the menu at McDonald's this year (or any year, for that matter), smaller health-food fast-casual chains are popping up and offering items such as quinoa and Brussels sprouts. It's likely these types of chains will take years to expand, but ones that have only a couple of locations now have already been making waves. Lyfe Kitchen, the brainchild of former McDonald's global chief operating officer and president Mike Roberts, was started in in California and offers healthful dishes that include local, organic, healthful fare; the chains also has grand expansion plans. British chain Pret A Manger, which specializes in fresh items that have no preservatives or chemicals, continues to expand in the U.S., even if it's only in a handful of cities currently. Local health chains, such as Protein Bar in Chicago, will likely also continue to pop up, though time will tell how far they'll expand.
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