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2023 Food Trends

What food trends are likely in 2023? Some of the answers to this question you likely see coming; “mood food” and cannabis-oriented cuisines, more attention on seafood sustainability, and the growing clean food trend are just some of the major factors to watch for 2023.

2023 Food Trends

Locally Sourced Fusion Food

Neither of these two concepts are new. Fusion has been happening for as long as anyone can remember, and locally sourced ingredients have been a point of pride for restaurants and bakeries even before the concept became a trend in the food industry. But with climate change, war, drought, and especially supply chain problems, “locally sourced” means good business.

Running a local restaurant is a difficult proposition in the best of times; reducing costs by sourcing locally isn’t just a way to improve the planet, it is also a way to gain an edge over competing businesses who have to rely on a compromised supply chain for their ingredients to be shipped from far away.

“Locally sourced” means different things to different restaurants, but in 2023 it’s a smart bet that the closer to home the food is coming from, the better. Not every region has a sustainable local food supply option, but those who do are likely to jealously guard those business relationships in the months ahead.

Seafood Sustainability, Seafood Alternatives

The news is not good where sustainability of seafood is concerned. One United Nations report notes that the overwhelming majority of global seafood (some 90% of the entire world’s edible fish) is overfished and depleted. But billions of people rely heavily on seafood, including the growing numbers of those who have moved away from red-meat based diets.

Restaurants in 2023 face challenges here; there is likely to be added scrutiny on retail dining regarding ethical practices, sustainable sourcing, and whether there are fish alternatives available.

Alternatives to seafood currently include many plant-based options; there is growing interest in using plant alternatives to replace overfished menu items. But under-utilized species are also getting attention.

The fish once known as “Asian Carp” is now rebranded as “Copi” and there’s an attempt to make this invasive fish species part of the American dinner table, in spite of its bad reputation as a pest in midwestern waterways. Will Copi become a hot new seafood fad? It may be entirely possible in 2023. But will it travel beyond the midwest and become a larger, more national food craze?

Clean Food

A 2018 report by Nielsen indicated that, at the time, almost half the population in America “…would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.” That idea is backed up by the fact that in 2018 consumers spent more than  $128 billion on “sustainable fast-moving consumer goods”.

More major corporations well-established in American fast food and other industries have taken note of the importance of sustainability, locally sourcing ingredients, and creating products that are less processed and contain fewer additives and preservatives.

Clean food in this context means selling products that do not have a mile-long laundry list of chemicals, partially hydrogenated oils, or other artificial ingredients. In 2023, “clean food” likely also means antibiotic-free, grass fed, free-range animals brought to market from smaller operations, and an emphasis on food sourced from companies using regenerative agriculture best practices.

Mood Altering Foods

A growing number of states have either decriminalized or legalized recreational cannabis use. The rise of cannabis-related Youtube channels is no surprise in that regard, but the rise of pot-oriented Youtube cooking channels is an indication of a growing trend worth watching.

Cannabis-infused food has a long tradition in the unofficial sense, but now that 420-related content is no longer relegated to cheesy 70s-era stereotypes, as a food trend in general mood food hasn’t even really started to reach its full potential.

That may change. In 2022 a federal end-of-420-prohibition bill was passed in the U.S. House of Representatives. At press time it had not made its way through the Senate but the tide is clearly turning. Mood food will explode upon the scene the moment the ability to operate legally grows beyond a local issue and is established as the law of the land.

Food Delivery Trends

Interest in food delivery apps has increased significantly in the last few years; pandemic-related issues likely inspired much of that to an extent, but in general the rise of Uber and other ride sharing services seems to coincide.

And the delivery services aren’t hurting; in 2021 DoorDash grew to nearly 50% in terms of market share, and many such services reported increased bookings/deliveries in 2021 over the previous year.

As competition heats up, it is entirely likely that a local food delivery trend could arise to compete with the Uber Eats and GrubHubs of the world, but that’s likely not a realistic threat for several years. What is notable for 2023 is the idea that these services are here to stay, that while they may have gained an incredible amount of traction during lockdown but not as a flash-in-the-pan type of commercial success. 2023 will likely see refinement and innovation within the industry.

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Joe Wallace has been covering real estate, mortgage and financial topics since 1995. His work has appeared on ABC, The Pentagon Channel, plus a variety of print and online publications. He is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News.