It’s our second-annual “crystal ball” issue wherein we cast a prognosticative eye toward the coming year (plus) and look at the ingredients and trends likely to break out. To look forward, one must first look backward and one movement seems to have become a key paradigm, that of getting as much value as possible out of an ingredient.

This has been most evident in the development of new sources of flour from gluten-free and non-GMO sources that have opened doors to the availability of protein and fiber ingredients from those same sources.

It’s no mystery why, only a year or so after chickpea protein hit huge, that chickpea flour is trending up. The same holds true of other seeds and grains, and other ingredient categories. Take beets. They’ve been enjoying a big revival, and hot on the tails of the various beet juice and beet colorants trending up, beet fiber is now available.

All this conforms perfectly to the sustainability/artisanal sourcing/green movements becoming increasingly mainstream. With the economy getting tighter and tighter, the industry is turning to an expanding selection of new resources while revisiting traditional sources for new ingredients.

This resource maximization approach recalls the history of the “victory” gardens that sprung up in American backyards during World War 2 and the rationing that prompted them. Waste reduction is a good thing. I’m certain we’ll be seeing more of it in the coming year and beyond.

Plant Technology

A big part of this best-use-of-resources movement is prominently expressed in the plant-based revolution. Plant-based meat and dairy analogs have been hitting shelves as fast as ingredient technology can make them happen, with expert mimicry of their animal-derived counterparts the “brass ring.” The one-upmanship of burger analogs is an excellent example of how rapidly technology can move forward given the right impetus.

On the dairy analog side, until Daiya Foods Co. and Miyoko’s Kitchen Inc. came along, fake cheese just couldn’t meet the blind taste challenge. And until the SupplySide West show last month, plant-based “yogurt” with the same organoleptic characteristics as real dairy yogurt was seemingly unattainable. Many had tried; none had come close. (Unfortunately, this did not keep all those soy, almond, coconut, etc. fakes from coming to market anyway.)

It was at SupplySide West that a global gum, fiber, and starch company presented a vegan yogurt analog that was simply light years ahead of anything out there.

The food scientist responsible for this technical leap absolutely nailed the texture of a whole-milk yogurt in a fermented yogurt analog product. It really does fool the palate completely. Doubly impressive is the fact that he chose coconut milk as the foundation. Of all the yogurt analogs out there, the coconut ones are typically the worst for texture and taste—chalky with a bitter back note and a runny slipperiness that is, well, unpleasant to say the least.

The accomplishment of such a coup is nothing less than groundbreaking. (All the more so if the technology is adaptable to milk analogs, none of which have ever been able to match the organoleptic characteristics of whole milk.) Thanks to these kind of technological breakthroughs, it’s entirely possible that a generation or two from now milk and meat from a cow will be the exceptions rather than the rule.

There are many such ingredient advancements in this last issue of 2018. Here’s hoping you’ll enjoy the look ahead to 2019 we’ve put together in order to present them.