Blink and you might miss the latest culinary trend. When it comes to the food industry, things move quicker than a busy bus boy. By the time you’ve downed the last sip of your Matcha latte, it’s old news and a new “in” drink has taken its place. As Chelsea Ritschel states in a recent article for Independent, “Predicting the next big thing is an inexact science; it could be triggered by a viral Instagram post, a throwaway comment by a chef, or emerge organically from changing tastes.”

With that said, now that the holiday season is upon us, it’s time to put 2017 in the rearview mirror and look ahead to food trends for 2018. Below are three particularly interesting trends curated from seasoned experts, running the gamut from the rise of floral flavors and mocktails to the influence of teas and plant-based recipes.

“Predicting the next big thing is an inexact science; it could be triggered by a viral Instagram post, a throwaway comment by a chef, or emerge organically from changing tastes.”- Chelsea RitschelClick To Tweet

Booze Will Be So Last Year…

According to experts at BBC, 2018 will signal the rise of non-alcoholic specialty beverages. As Victoria Moore explains in a recent article in BBC’s Good Food, booze-free beverages have never been trendier, with top-tier mixologists glomming onto the trend. “Mr. Lyan’s award-winning bar list at Dandelyan at the Mondrian Hotel, London includes exotic creations such as Wild Thing, made with Seedlip, ylang-ylang and herbal tonic,” Moore writes. Seedlip is a transparent liquid closely resembling all-spice. Marketing itself as the world’s first distilled, non-alcoholic spirit, Seedlip gained instant popularity in 2017 and sold out within three weeks of launching.

…And It’ll Be Replaced by Botanicals

Additionally, botanicals such as rose and lavender will fill drinks for health-conscious drinkers looking to steer clear of booze. According to the Whole Foods Market’s top food trends for 2018, floral flavors could dethrone the pumpkin spice trend. “Look for flowers used like herbs in things like lavender lattés and rose-flavored everything. Bright pink hibiscus teas are a hot (and iced) part of the trend, while elderflower is the new MVP (most valuable petal) of cocktails and bubbly drinks.”

Green (Tea) is the New Black (Coffee)

Speaking of drinks, is tea on its way to usurping coffee as beverage royalty? According to the stats, maybe. Sales of herbal and green tea, in particular, continue to rise for consumption at home, and it’s likely that the tea “bars” we see popping up around town will become more and more commonplace.

And let’s not forget Matcha, a type of green tea that has gained social media fame for its bright hue. It’s no longer just a fancy addition to a morning latte – people are now blending it into smoothies and adding it to desserts. Matcha can help boost your energy, making it a great alternative to your daily cup of joe, explains Cynthia Sass, M.P.H., R.D., a NYC-based sports nutritionist in a recent Men’s Health article, titled “Matcha Tea Is Everywhere – But Is It Actually Good for You?” While it doesn’t contain even half as much caffeine as coffee (one 8-ounce cup of Matcha contains about 70 mg, while 8 ounces of coffee contains nearly 170 mg), Matcha contains an all-natural ingredient called l-theanine, which can lead to a feeling of sustained and healthy alertness, according to Sass. “Compared to the caffeine buzz from coffee, Matcha drinkers experience an ‘alert calm,’ that produces feelings of relaxation rather than drowsiness,” she explains.

Move over, coffee. It’s time to make room for tea (in all its bright green glory).

When the Power of Plants Meets Technology

Libations aren’t the only thing evolving. As chefs nationwide continue to embrace ingredients such as tofu, tempeh and quinoa, veganism is on the rise. And, as plant-based dishes continue to gain prevalence in today’s food scene, the tech industry has joined the party. By using technology and science to replicate plant-based ingredients, chefs are putting incredibly innovative and forward-thinking dishes on the table, including “bleeding” vegan burgers and sushi-grade “not-tuna” made from tomatoes.

The intersection of food and technology has resulted in the rise of some nut milks and yogurts made from pili nuts, peas, bananas, macadamia nuts and pecans. According to Whole Foods’ panel of experts, “Dairy-free indulgences like vegan frosting, brownies, ice cream, brioche and crème brulée are getting so delicious, non-vegans won’t know the difference – or they might choose them anyway!”

So, What Does This Mean for Us?

As PR pros in the Food + Beverage industry, it’s imperative we stay on top of today’s cutting-edge trends. Whether developing recipes, vetting chef spokespeople or sampling dishes at a trade show or large-scale event, we must have a keen awareness of today’s culinary scene in order to make the best recommendation to and for our client(s). When writing pitches, knowing today’s hot topics helps give our stories a sense of immediacy and timeliness. After all, how can we insert our clients into the conversation when we don’t know what’s being discussed?

For more information about Padilla’s Food + Beverage practice, click here.