Food Trends in 2018: Tea flavors, convincing mocktails, plant proteins, and sushi in a croissant?

December 5, 2017, 6:02 PM UTC

Last year’s food trend predictions heralded the dawn of a coconut craze and taco fever. Food trends in 2018 will include more alternatives, new flavors, and an emphasis on environmentally friendly ways of eating.

The BBC released their top ten food trends for the coming year along with a 1-minute video clip that highlighted some of the more extreme items on the list.

Some of the more eye-catching BBC predictions involved unexpected pairings … like raw fish and French pastry.

From sushi croissants to pasta donuts, this “era of permissibility” for food experimentation means no end in sight for more extreme fusion creations.

The salmon roll wrapped inside croissant dough, sometimes called the “croissushi,” debuted this year at Mr. Holmes Bakehouse in Los Angeles.

The spaghetti donut hails from the East coast. Made from pasta, eggs, and cheese fried into a donut shape for hand-held ease, this creation originated at New York’s Smorgasburg, a spread of fusion curiosities and Instagram food trends that could be the birthplace of next year’s hot combination, too.

Tea flavors and mocktails

The BBC says 2018 will be the year we see tea win out over coffee. It’ll also signal the rise of non-alcoholic specialty drinks. Floral flavors could unseat the pumpkin spice obsession, according to the Whole Foods predictions for the new year. Botanicals and notes like rose and lavender will fill glasses for health-conscious drinkers looking to curtail their booze consumption.

Lavender tea, Dried flowers of the lavender plant (Lavandula angustifolia).GARO/Getty Images/Canopy
GARO/Getty Images/Canopy

Plant-based proteins

Just two months ago Leonardo Dicaprio invested in a startup making plant-based meat substitutes. The company, Beyond Meat, is just one of a several companies looking to cater to younger consumers who are increasingly adopting vegetarian and vegan diets.

In August, Bill Gates, Richard Branson and a handful of venture capital firms led a $17 million Series A round of fundraising for Memphis Meat. It’s not a plant-based protein company, per se, but it is one that produces meat without having to grow an entire animal. It has so far produced beef, chicken and duck from animal cells.

Impossible Foods, a Silicon Valley startup that’s been working on developing a meatless burger that bleeds. The team has been a plant-based “heme” (which means “blood” in Greek) that imitates replicates the bloodiness of biting into a still-pink-on-the-inside beef burger. Though heme is not yet available to purchase, expect plant-based proteins like tofu, tempeh, and quinoa to replace meat more often next year.

Interior of The Vegetarian Butcher concept store in The Hague. Using techniques developed in a Dutch university The Vegetarian Butcher, a company which makes vegetable meat substitutes, is able to reproduce the fibers of meat by using a machine that pressurizes a paste made from soybeans.Nicolas Delaunay/AFP/Getty Images
Nicolas Delaunay/AFP/Getty Images

New (to the mainland U.S.) cultural dishes

The BBC predicts that Hawaiian poke bowls are here to stay.

The popular bowls, made with a layer of rice topped with chunks of raw, marinated tuna or other fish along with vegetables and umami-packed sauces, are ubiquitous in Hawaii and quickly spreading throughout the mainland U.S.

“It’s the next generation of sushi,” chef Dakota Weiss of Sweetfin Poké in L.A. told People. “But easier to eat.”

Meanwhile, Whole Foods says Middle Eastern cuisine will truly hit the mainstream in 2018, predicting we’ll see more spices like harissa, cardamom, and za’atar, as well as dishes like shakshuka.

Hawaiian tuna poke bowl with seaweed, avocado, red cabbage slaw
Hawaiian tuna poke bowl with seaweed, avocado, red cabbage slaw, radishes and black sesame seeds.sveta_zarzamora/Getty Images/iStockphoto
sveta_zarzamora/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Hyperlocal and low-waste

Local sourcing has been a trend for the last few years, but using foods grown in walking distance of the dinner table is an increasingly popular goal, according to the BBC.

Getting even closer than local farmers markets, some restaurants are opting to grow their own ingredients on-site. The BBC points to Danish chef René Redzepi and his two-Michelin-starred Copenhagen restaurant Noma as a leader of the trend.

An emphasis on reducing waste will also grow in 2018. Expect to start seeing dishes made from food waste or menus planned to use all parts of the ingredients.

In New York City last year, an environmental organization called Feedback fed 5,000 people free meals cooked from produce that otherwise would have been wasted. This event has been replicated around the world in 2017 and predictions say the trend could break through to restaurants in 2018.

People eat as part of “Feeding the 5000 NYC” in Union Square Park May 10, 2016 as thousands of members of the public are be provided with a delicious free feast, sourced entirely from fresh top-quality produce that would have otherwise been wasted. / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images
Timothy A. Clary—AFP/Getty Images