Throughout most of 2017 and into 2018, the food and beverage industry feasted on the momentum and innovation surrounding plant-based proteins. It was clear that increased consumer focus on vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian diets was influencing trends industrywide.
Market research firm Packaged Facts, Rockville, Maryland, predicts that animal-based proteins will reclaim space on America’s center plate, according to its recent report on meat innovation titled “Protein and Center Plate: Culinary Trend Tracking Series.” Spurring the renewed focus on animal protein is increased creativity and novel approaches from food marketers and culinary visionaries.
“The rules about protein and the rules about center plate are being completely remade,” said David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts. “As a result, neither protein nor center of the plate will ever be the same.”
Where once there were steaks and chops and chicken breasts, there are now novel nose-to-tail cuts such as culotte, short ribs, shoulder, neck and thighs. These varieties are often more value-conscious, as well as more adaptable to culinary flourishes and global inspirations.
Burgers and meatballs keep gaining traction and consumer appeal, branching out beyond beef to introduce lamb, pork, duck and more. Sausage and charcuterie are flourishing, as chefs seek to use up every bit and scrap of the animal to an increasingly adventurous audience. And seemingly everywhere there is spice and innovation and novelty, from chili-laced Korean fried chicken to foie gras to worldly dumpling offerings such as dim sum.