Bugs as Snacks Among Predicted 2018 Food Trends

From eating bugs for protein to raising chickens in your backyard to eat their eggs, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) experts say some food trends grow in popularity over time. Here are the food trends for 2018, as predicted by some UF/IFAS faculty.

Bug-eyed for protein: Insects are trending as a food source and are now being termed "microlivestock," says Rebecca Baldwin, PhD, a UF/IFAS associate professor of entomology. In fact, a chef who advocates for edible insects has attracted the attention of the Entomological Society of America and will speak to the group in Denver in November. The Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville also has sponsored a Science Café about sustainability, and the chef prepared mealworms in a wine reduction as a salad topper. That night, more than 60 patrons tried insects, Baldwin says.

Eggs from backyard chickens: Small poultry flocks have been a growing trend for a few years, says Mike Davis, PhD, director of UF/IFAS Extension Baker County. Many municipalities offer homeowners in residentially zoned areas the chance to raise small flocks of chickens for egg production. The rules and regulations vary from city to city.

Foodies on a budget: Some people—known as foodies—are keenly interested in their food, particularly how it's prepared and where it comes from. The best advice for foodies on a tight budget is to eat at home, says Brandon McFadden, PhD, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of food and resource economics. While this may not be the advice some foodies want to hear, preparing food at home allows them to think about food from the perspective of a chef and provides a richer experience when eating out, he says.

Cutting food waste: While Americans waste 130 million lbs of food each year, people will try to figure out how to reduce that amount, says Nan Jensen, RD, LD/N a family and consumer sciences agent with UF/IFAS Extension Pinellas County. Among the possible solutions are consumer education and tax incentives for companies to donate to food banks, Jensen says. Limiting organic waste that companies can dump in a landfill also helps, she says. Sometimes dates on food packages leave consumers confused and lead them to toss out food before its time. Making such labels more standardized would help, Jensen says.

Home food entrepreneurs: Cottage food laws have expanded recently in the state of Florida, says Samara Deary, a family and consumer sciences agent at UF/IFAS Extension Bradford County. Home food entrepreneurs can now use websites to market their products, and their earning potential has grown from $15,000 to $50,000 a year, before they would need to adhere to more stringent regulations, Deary says.

"Some upcoming food trends include the resurgence of carbs as well as cook-it-yourself options," Deary says. "Both offer a market for cottage food entrepreneurs to create food to meet the needs of those trends, not to mention the growing number of home bakeries that offer cakes, cupcakes, and other shelf-stable baked goods. I would say [these] offer pretty stiff competition to your local bakery."

Locally grown food: The demand for locally grown food continues to increase, says Liz Felter, PhD, regional specialized agent for food systems and ornamental horticulture for Central Florida.

"Locally grown food is more nutritious because it has less distance to travel to get to the consumer," Felter says. "Purchasing local food helps support local growers. Some small-farm operations have added microgreens and basil to their crop offerings because demand has increased and these crops get higher prices."

Artisan food: Along with locally grown foods, "artisan foods" are piquing consumers' interest, says Soo Ahn, PhD, an assistant professor of food science and human nutrition at UF/IFAS. Artisan food implies that the product is handcrafted in smaller batches, commonly with high-quality ingredients. Popular artisan food items include cheese, ice cream, and baked goods, Ahn says. The popularity of artisan foods will provide great opportunities for small food businesses, she says. Artisan foods manufactured by small food businesses and their marketing strategies also attract millennials, the key demographic of the food industry, Ahn says.

Lifestyle choices/diet that can help cognition: With an increase in aging baby boomers and more cases of cognitive decline, such as Alzheimer's disease or other dementia, there will be continued research and consumer education on how lifestyle choices can mitigate the physiological changes that occur as our brain ages, Jensen says.

— Source: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences