CHICAGO — The Internet-based Food Channel recently announced its top 10 food trends to watch in 2010, which are based on research conducted in conjunction with CultureWaves and the International Food Futurists.

Trends for 2010 show an interesting mix of "return to basics" and "experiment, Kay Logsdon, vice-president and managing editor, The Food Channel, told "That’s probably good news for the meat and poultry industry in that meat and potatoes are basics that don’t ever go away," she added. "At the same time, people are willing to experiment with new cuts of meat, new marinades and anything that will either enhance flavor or extend value. We do see a lot of interest in grass-fed beef — it speaks of sustainability and also of food sourcing. We want to know how our food was produced — everything from where it was raised, to how it was fed, to how it was butchered and what it contains."

The Food Channel identified the following as food trends in 2010:

  • Keeping it real — A return to basic ingredients is underway in this back-to-basics economy. It is about pure, simple, clean and sustainable and it also represents a shift away from convenience foods and back to scratch cooking.
  • Experimentation nation — People are redefining what going "out" to eat means. Gastropubs, fusion dining, shareables and communal tables are all being tried. New concepts around "fresh" and "do it yourself" will do well.
  • More in store — Growth in grocery stores is predicted, particularly as private-label food assumes prominence. Generics have evolved into their own brands, so there is blurring and less of a caste system. Grocery stores are also upgrading delis and fresh take-out sections, all the way to returning butchers to a place of prominence.

"There is increased interest in butchers," Ms. Logsdon said. "Even though that’s an expensive [position] to try to return to the grocery store, it is part of the trend toward fresh — nothing says fresh like an in-store butcher cutting the meat."

  • American, ‘the new ethnic’ — Flavor delivery is front-and-center here. Part comfort, part creativity, the latest flavors are coming from the great American melting pot. It's about Grandma's food, but the recipes may be written in Japanese.
  • Food vetting — There is a constant, growing need for assurance that consumers are eating the right things, that food is safe and that consumers are not ingesting anything that will someday prove harmful. As a result, more people are asking where their food comes from.
  • Mainstreaming sustainability — America is now learning how to be sustainable, and Americans are holding themselves responsible. In 2010, more people and companies will become sustainable for authentic reasons.
  • Food with benefits — The trend toward beneficial foods is growing at a pretty fast rate. Expect food to either have nutrients added, or have the word "free" (gluten-free, allergy-free) added.
  • I want my umami — There is a growing trend of experimentation and a willingness to try new things.
  • Will trade for food — Expect to see more of the barter system come into play now that technology can assist with connections.
  • I, me, mine — There is a growing trend toward individuality at foodservice. It's part of the reason why more consumers are smoking their own meats, among other things. Expect more attention to be paid to the individual. It's not just about portion size — it's also about food that reflects personality.

"We’ve seen in places like Flat Top Grill the ‘do it yourself’ that includes choosing our own meat to go with our own choice of vegetables, etc.," Ms. Logsdon said. "This individual design could be something important for the meat and poultry industry to watch."