19 JUN 2017:. Unique culinary experiences continue to be a force that motivates people to travel. In 2017 emerging trends include edible artwork installations, brightly coloured Instagram ready foods, ever increasing food festivals, multisensory dining events and food journeys through hotels, cities and regions.  

The Innovation Group, J. Walter Thompson’s futurism, research and innovation unit, charts emerging and future global trends, consumer change, and innovation patterns. Their 55-page Food + Drinks Trends and Futures 2017 report identifies seventeen emerging trends across product and experience, including Prescription Nutrition, “Insta-Serves” and Edible Artwork. The report offers an in-depth analysis of trends shaping experience dining and a breakout section on visual trends.

The following are some of the movements that involve the culinary traveller.

Food and Drink leads Retail Sales

The report noted that “Retail took a battering in early 2017 but food and drink sales are holding up well, as shoppers plough more dollars and pounds into experiences rather than consumer goods.”

It went on to say that the latest retail buzz is focused not on malls crammed with fashion boutiques, but on food. Chef and author Anthony Bourdain’s mega food market on Pier 57 in New York, slated for launch in 2019, will host more than 100 local food vendors. On the other side of the Atlantic, new joint venture London Union plans to open as many as 20 local markets tailored to different neighbourhoods across the British capital, with a permanent street food market pegged for 2017.

In Toronto, Adelaide Eats popped up in the downtown financial district in June and runs Monday to Friday until the end of July. The outdoor food oasis features about 15 local chefs, bakers, restaurants and artisanal food makers including Tacos 101, Chinmey Stax, District 28, Fish’d by Edo, Kaboom Chicken, La Fiesta, The Merchant Tavern, Momofuku, Ishtar, TO’s Finest Dessert Bar, Toben Food by Design and Wahlburgers.

Food Festivals are Booming

The London Evening Standard is tapping into the continued boom in food festivals in England with its first annual Food Month in June, a line-up of more than 400 events that reads like a who’s who of the culinary glitterati.

Taste Festivals runs foodie events in over 20 cities around the globe. Their Taste of Toronto held in June attracts about 25,000 food-loving visitors and brings together the city’s top chefs for the ultimate foodie experience. This year’s theme was Friends who Feast. http://tastefestivals.com/

Healthy Eating is Hip

New food services are offering a healthy twist to “Meals on Wheels”. The latest such as Galley, based in Washington DC, offers meals containing between 600 and 800 calories, priced from $13 to $16, including tax, delivery, and gratuity. The company works with concierges in hotels around the city to reach the business traveller who wants to eat well while on the road.

I’ve noticed the room service in progressive hotels almost always now offer healthy alternatives such plant based dishes to the guests. Vegan restaurants are going high end such as Planta in Toronto and meat-free, plant-based burgers are appearing at hot spots such as David Chang’s New York Momofuku Nishi. (Mintel’s 2017 Protein Report: Meat Alternatives, shows that 36% of millennials are embracing meat alternatives, versus just 14% of baby boomers.)

Food and drink is the hottest social media currency

Pandering to today’s Foodstagramming era, food shops, bars and restaurants are serving up food and drink that begs to be photographed. Bright colours, crazy combos, stacked layers – whatever grabs the eye will also take the limelight. Think an entire roast chicken atop a Bloody Caesar, or bright purple ice cream, pink lattes, or “mermaid toast” topped with cream cheese swirled with chlorophyll drops and spirulina powder to create a dreamy blue-green ocean effect.

Multisensory Foods

Across the world, we are witnessing the rise of immersive, multisensory food and drink experiences. Culinary travel experiences have become the key driver for global tourism. More than two thirds (71%) of US millennials will recommend a destination based solely on cuisine, according to a survey commissioned by food company Harry & David last year. Some 82% of US respondents agree that they are most excited about trying local food and restaurants when travelling.

Netherlands-based Studio Appétit has partnered with Danish chocolatier Oialla to design Room Service, a collection of chocolates for curious hotel guests and travellers. Chocolates in the Flavour Exploration Club range are designed to be strategically placed in and around a hotel to take their recipients on “a sensorial journey.”

Food as Art and Art as Food

The Langham Afternoon Tea with Wedgwood collection that I enjoyed last year called upon Executive Pastry Chef, Cherish Finden to take inspiration from Wedgwood collections. She made beautiful works of delicate delectable art to eat. The ‘Butterfly Bloom’ for example featured a buttery shortbread tower with salted caramel with two hand crafted edible butterflies at its peak.

Steinbeisser Experimental Gastronomy is a series of events which fuse avant-garde design with gastronomy; different artists are invited to design the tableware and have responded with an array of materials including seaweed, earth and metals. At a 2016 event held in Amsterdam, contemporary jeweller Gabi Veit forced guests to rethink their table manners with an unconventional gold spoon covered in thorns.

Boba Room, an interactive 15-day exhibition focused on the popular Asian bubble tea, was held at the Open Space Gallery in New York’s Bowery neighborhood in spring 2017. Visitors were served beverages from brands from across the city, including Vivi Bubble Tea Tales LES, Tea and Milk, PaTea and Gong Cha.

Vancouver opened the one-night-only Edible Museum of Canadian Food and Wine in February 2017: a multi-sensory pop-up designed to guide visitors through Canada’s epicurean history. Guests were invited to delve into Canadian culinary and viticultural landscape while they sampled iconic foods and award-winning wines.

Other museums are building a reputation as dining destinations. Last year, restaurateur Danny Meyer earned two Michelin stars for The Modern, his restaurant in New York’s Museum of Modern Art. The Rijksmuseum In Amsterdam scooped a star in December 2016 for RIJKS, led by chef Joris Bijdendijk.

A download of the full report is available at: www.jwtintelligence.com/food-drink/


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Margaret Swaine

Margaret is a nationally published wine, spirits, food and travel writer, who has authored thousands of articles on these subjects for magazines and newspapers.

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