A few food trends to keep an eye on in 2014

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 31, 2013

his year, grocery stores began stocking more gluten-free items while restaurant owners started adding the popular dietary option to their menus.
NPD, a consumer market research firm, estimates nearly 30 percent of all adults claim to be cutting down or eliminating gluten from their diets.
About 10 percent of those people have a gluten sensitivity, which can cause muscle aches, acne and gastrointestinal issues, according to QSR Magazine.
The magazine, which reports quick-service and fast casual restaurant news, also reports more people “going local” in 2013.
That trend was seen in Rowan County earlier this year when about 400 people attended the Bread Riot’s annual Riot in the Pasture.
The farm-to-fork dinner event featured fresh ingredients from local farms including Bird Brain Ostrich, Wild Turkey, T&D and Correll.
Going hand-in-hand with the trend to eat more locally-produced foods is the decision by many to take in more fruits and vegetables, according to QSR.
Instead of offering only traditional iceberg lettuce, many restaurants have added romaine, field greens and spinach to salads, QSR reports.
Sweet potato fries and avocado, cut up on sandwiches or placed atop salads, are also becoming popular in the restaurant world.
Looking ahead to 2014, I found some interesting trends. Here’s a look at a few you can expect to encounter.

Technology boom: Restaurant owners are expected to use technology to speed up ordering as well as reduce wait and checkout times, according to FSR Magazine, which provides insight into full-service restaurants.
Applebee’s is expected to install 100,000 tablets at the tables and bars of more than 1,800 of its restaurants by the end of 2014. The technology will enable guests to add to their orders, pay and play games from their seats, according to FSR.
Technology will also allow restaurants to engage with customers 24/7 through Facebook and Twitter, further building relationships with existing customers.

Winner, winner chicken dinner: As beef prices continue to rise, FSR reports Americans are expected to consume more chicken in 2014.
FSR reports the price of chicken-breast meat, except for wings, is expected to dip between 5 and 9 percent in the New Year, while the cost of beef will likely rise 2 percent. The price of pork is also expected to drop.
During the last five years, food costs have risen a total of 7 percent, according to FSR. They are expected to climb another 2 percent next year with shrimp leading the way as farms in Southeast Asia and India suffer lack in supply due to disease.
Non-meats including corn and cheese will fall in cost by 20 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively.

Ethnically diverse menus: As the country’s Latino and Asian populations continue to rise, those influences will show up on menus, reports FSR.
Latino ingredients such as chilies, tomatillos, recados rojo and Chamoy — a condiment that combines apricot, lime, chilies and spices — made McCormick’s 2014 trends list.
Asian-style noodles, rice and specialty sauces will also grow in popularity, according to FSR.

Responsible food packaging: U.S. News & World Reports expects companies to begin making more sustainable food packages in 2014. Some will even take it a step further by developing edible packages.

New superfoods: Kale, quinoa and chia were all the rage this year, but expect new “superfoods” to take their place in 2014. Super grains like freekah and teff will move in, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Cauliflower is also expect to rise to fame in the New Year.
Sarah Campbell is the Post’s lifestyle editor. She can be reached by calling 704-797-7683.