While the concept of food being trendy is nothing new, just how are new trends formed?
Fashionable foods currently include pulled pork and strongly flavoured Korean fermented kimchi. The concept of food being trendy is nothing new. How those trends begin, however, is more puzzling.
Researcher of future food trends, Leena Jokinen from University of Turku, says that food fashions develop in a similar manner to clothing fashion.
"At the same time, there are many different fashions," Jokinen says.
As in clothing fashion there are trendsetters who make a certain food popular. For example, the opinions of top chefs, food reporters and food bloggers are closely followed. Jokinen has a simple explanation for why food trends change constantly: she thinks that food trends are replaced by new ones because we want variation.
In August, The New York Times discussed the emergence of food trends. The delicacy of the Mediterranean food tradition has recently made an appearance. The newspaper gave octopus as an example.
In 1975, octopus was first mentioned in the newspaper. To begin with, it was only served in exclusive restaurants. Nowadays, octopus is a familiar ingredient, even in chain pizzerias.
Between being unknown and familiar, octopus was trendy for a while. How a food becomes trendy, on the other hand, is affected by many things.
Shedding light on the trends
David Sax, who has written a book called The Tastemakers and was quoted in an article on the Munchies food page of Vice magazine in August, shed some light on the matter:
"Nowadays, we can make a choice of what we put in our mouths but the remaining fact is that our appetite is a collective thing. We want to experience new because we want to be part of the modern day."
According to Sax, social media affects the emergence and broadening of food trends.
Mirja Lonka, the director of product development at Saarioinen, says that they constantly follow food trends elsewhere in the world.
"The difficult part is to know what foods will become a real trend, and which are just passing," she says.
At Saarioinen, the trends are also assessed critically.
"If trends are unhealthy, it is wrong to start pursuing them. As we choose the trends we follow, we try and take into account the nutritional recommendations."
Different studies on consumers are made at Saarioinen. Having worked for thirty years in the industry, Lonka has noticed that consumers value different things. At the moment, consumers are interested in affecting their health with food.
"What we put in our months interests us more all the time."
Lonka believes that being ecological, ethical and healthy will continue to be popular in the future, too.
"Traditions and nostalgia are on the rise in addition to those."
Johanna Mitjonen – HS
Mari Storpellinen – HT
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Image: Juhani Niiranen / HS