What’s Popping?: Food Trends for 2013

2013 Food Trends // Design by Julie Teninbaum

You don’t need to be well-versed in ancient Greek philosophy to understand why trends occur. But familiarity with the doctrine of Heraclitus of Ephesus, which says that change is the only constant in the universe, certainly helps illuminate their causes.

“According to many of the ancient philosophers, there are circles, and things go back every 80 to 120 years,” says Jim Hiller, CEO of Hiller’s Markets. “But, in the intervening period, generations choose to do different things, not the same thing. We’re not like dogs. My dog is very happy to eat the same crap every day,” Hiller explains.

Every year, food magazines and restaurant consultants publish lists of predictions about what diners and shoppers will be seeing more of at restaurants and grocery stores in the coming year. And while insight into the latest in haute couture can be gleaned from attending New York Fashion Week, there is not quite an equivalent event in the world of haute cuisine. Rather, foodies must get their fix from those in the know.

Our panel of experts offers, in their own words, views on the emerging food trends for 2013 and beyond:

Mokbel: “We’re not doing the international fusions anymore. We’re doing international foods, but we’re doing them as authentic as possible. We’re going back to very simple street foods and authentic home cooking.”

Aronoff: “Even the restaurants that you went to that were more formal and Michelin-starred are incorporating the chef’s heritage. … It’s not just about regional United States, it’s from all these different areas around the world. From the guests’ perspective, they’re more aware and ready to appreciate that.”

Hiller: “When I introduced hummus to West Bloomfield 30 years ago, it was a rare bird, unusual. Today, hummus is like ketchup. It’s ubiquitous.”

Dalto: “Ethnic is big: Middle Eastern, Asian,  Mexican, and Italian.”

Stowe: “We’re seeing a lot more artisan foods that we can find domestically, in the United States, as opposed to having to import them from Europe or elsewhere. There are a lot of Michigan producers that we feature in our stores — even specialty candies.”

Hiller: “We will continue to see more localized eating. There’ll be more people who say, ‘I want my food to come from walking distance.’ I sell yak meat at our stores. My yak meat comes from Northville. I sell chickens from a farm that’s very close to Ann Arbor, from a retired professor who raises exotic breeds of chickens there.”

Vutetakis: “In my former restaurant, Inn Season Café — they’ve been there 33 years — we were farm-to-table right from the start.”

Aronoff: “Working with food that comes from closer is going to taste better. Working with local farmers and following seasons is just common sense. … Taking sourcing from local farmers to the next level by foraging for your own food.”

Hiller: “In my own stores now, I have more than 5,000 gluten-free items. It has become a way of life for many people.”

Vutetakis: “Vegan food is becoming mainstream. Movies like “Forks Over Knives,” and a number of others, started a powerful trend because it showed medical reasons in addition to lifestyle reasons [for veganism]. A lot of people that saw that movie made the choice to become vegan because they feel better from it.”

Stowe: “We’re seeing more people with specialty diets like vegan and gluten-free.”

Mokbel: “Healthy food is always going to be one of the biggest things, because people go back to restaurants
over and over — if it’s healthy.”

Stowe: “We have chefs in every store that do our prepared foods, and they’re using more of what we call super-foods and super-grains, like kale and quinoa.”

Dalto: “You’re going to see medium to upscale niche grocers who have … organic, non-processed meat that is pure, and what in the old days you would call “health foods,” but you’d have to go to Ann Arbor to get.”

Vutetakis: “We’re [Garden Fresh Gourmet] looking at putting super-food ingredients in hummus.”

Hiller: “One of my missions is to find and label products that are low in sodium, because we’re killing ourselves with the amount of sodium that’s in our foods.”

Vutetakis: “Kroger had a new mandate come out last year … they want to be the one-stop shop for everything grocery and healthy. They actually are expanding their natural food section greatly. They’re already the No. 1 organic purchaser in the country.”

Mokbel: “You’ll see a lot of one-theme restaurants with simple menus. It’s a little more competitive right now, so restaurants have to deliver better quality, better service, and more authentic and memorable experiences.”

Vutetakis: “It’s about all the good ingredients. A sign of that trend is how farmers markets have become very popular. Where can you go and get something that’s picked from the field or harvested within 24 hours? That doesn’t exist in regular grocery stores.”

Hiller: “Many Millennials choose to purchase food that they assemble, not cook. They are habituaters of prepared foods, and frozen foods that need only be put in the oven.”

Vutetakis: “We [Garden Fresh] have a number of things in the works, not the least of which is something I specialize in: plant-based ready meals.”

Mokbel: “Between McDonald’s and Burger King, whoever makes the gourmet burger first will be there forever and will take the other one down.”

Dalto: “They’re going to have to increase their breadth of offerings. Even Dunkin’ Donuts is offering omelets or eggs. They’ve got to offer fish. They’ve got to offer more healthy things. I have a feeling you’re going to see franchises increasingly going out of business, because they’re not going to be able to keep up with the upgrades, and new menus, and with the capital improvements you’ve got to put in. And frankly, I think fast foods have a bad stigma. The demographics are changing. The youth market is not as fast-food oriented.”

Aronoff: “I am seeing pickled everything everywhere, especially in New York. Seasonal and creative pickled ingredients.”

Stowe: “We’re seeing a lot of pickled foods, like sauerkraut, and fermented foods.”

Mokbel: “People who entertain will invite everybody to have one big stew instead of 10 to 15 dishes.”

Vutetakis: “There’s the Drought Juice people. They have a fantastic product. Hain Celestial Group just bought a similar company in New York for millions of dollars. … They’re starting to put them in Whole Foods across the country, and you see other companies starting to do this (because) this is the new sort of vitamin. You’re getting your nutrients in a liquid form.”

Hiller: “Duck eggs, goose eggs, quail eggs — I can’t keep them in stock. … People are fickle and they always
want new things. You’re going to see things like black garlic.”

Aronoff: “[I’m] continuing to see charcuterie becoming the norm instead of an exception — making sausages, pâtés, etc., and [with] more creative flavor profiles.”


Hiller: “It used to be for many years that the celebratory drink was champagne. Now, I’m beginning to see this migration to prosecco.”


Vutetakis: “[Cottage food laws] have created an explosion of goods and products that are locally made at places like farmers markets and small stores. It’s really encouraged people to be entrepreneurial … to make the recipes that their family loves.

Stowe: “Everything from craft beer — different flavors like sour and fermented beers — to specialty cheeses that you would traditionally get from Italy, but now there is a supplier in California.”

Dalto: At places like Eastern Market, there were a few vendors who had some food. Now, they have like 80 vendors. There’s a whole shed that’s being built right now — Shed 5 is going to be open in March or April. It’s an incubator kitchen where people can rent out the kitchen and make products for the market.”

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