We’ve seen the rise (and fall) of many different food fads and trends in the 2010s, from cronuts to frankenpastries, and the recent hype about salted egg or mala flavoured everything.
Here, we’ve narrowed down nine food trends that look set to hog the headlines in the new decade.
1. Low or Non-Alcoholic Beer
Now, Happy Hour can last all day, every day! The growth in demand for low and non-alcoholic (LNA) beers is on the rise in Singapore, and more breweries are supplying them to the market.
LNA beers, which can be conveniently bought at most supermarkets and convenience stores, are made with the same ingredients and go through the same fermentation process as regular beers. The difference: The alcohol content is removed prior to canning.
Some LNA products in the market include Heineken 0.0, Tiger Radler (which comes in many fruity flavours) and Asahi Dry Zero. Do note that non-alcoholic beers in Singapore are not necessarily totally “non-alcoholic” – under Singapore law, any beverage that contains less than 0.5 per cent alcohol can be classified as non-alcoholic.
This means you can crack open a cold one any time of the day without worrying about the after-effects – from the mild embarrassment of having an Asian flush to suffering from a major hangover!
2. Impossible Meats
If you’ve been keeping up with food news, you’d know that plant-based substitutes for meat products are slated to be the next big breakthrough. One company that has pioneered this movement is Impossible Foods Inc., creators of the Impossible Burger, which is sold in many cafes and fast food outlets worldwide as an alternative to the regular beef patty burger.
According to the company, the 240-calorie Impossible Burgers contains 19g of protein and zero cholesterol, making it a healthy and environmentally friendly alternative to meat burgers.
With the success of the Impossible Burger, the company has recently launched Impossible Pork, which is designed for halal and kosher certification. While this remains in its infancy and is still being tested out in the US, we believe that it will hit our sunny shores very soon.
3. Milk Alternatives
Did you know that the adult human body is designed to be lactose-intolerant? Most of us stop producing the enzyme lactase, which is responsible for the digestion of the milk sugar lactose, after weaning. Just look at every other mammal – most, if not all, consume milk only in their infancy.
However, that shouldn’t stop us from enjoying our favourite beverage, or a nice, cold ice cream on a warm day. With more and more milk alternatives, such as soy, rice, nuts and even lactose-free milk, we are no longer limited to only cow’s milk, or risk having to rush to the loo after drinking it.
In fact, Meiji has recently released a version of lactose-free milk that supposedly tastes exactly like cow’s milk.
Take a look at the chilled beverages section of any supermarket and you’re bound to find Kombucha. One of the latest additions to the beverage market, Kombucha has disrupted the industry and shows no signs of slowing down.
Made since ancient times in China, Kombucha has recently regained popularity, especially among health gurus and the health-conscious. This sweetened tea mixture is brewed and fermented for days using a mixture of bacteria and yeast known as Scoby (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast). The fermentation process can take anywhere from seven days to an entire month. During the fermentation process, the Scoby mixture transforms the sweet tea to a tart, fizzy concoction.
Many believe that Kombucha not only improves your gut health and digestion, but also helps boost your immune system. It’s also touted by some as the healthier, more natural version of carbonated sodas. Often mixed with flavourings and different fruit juices, Kombucha can be found bottled and ready to go, refrigerated in chillers all over the country. With this only being the start of Kombucha craze, we’re betting that this beverage will be filling up the spaces of every shelf in 2020.
5. Sustainable Produce
One of the major causes of global warming is livestock farming: The amount of methane emitted from raising a cow is comparable to the amount of pollution produced by a car in one day. And with the constant demand for beef, its impact is only going to be more apparent on the climate. Raising livestock also leads to deforestation, affecting our biodiversity and ecosystems.
While some would advocated going vegetarian or vegan for a better earth and overall health, for many of us, cutting out meat entirely isn’t the most feasible option (no more bacon and eggs for breakfast?!).
To address this, more companies are touting sustainable produce, such as ethically farmed seafood or reared livestock. By purchasing sustainable produce, the consumer is making an active choice to protect the environment, and ensuring that any damage caused to the earth while rearing livestock is kept to a minimum.
This movement has been on the rise in many restaurants throughout Singapore, with many offering sustainable produce on their menus. Greta Thunberg would approve.
6. Brown Sugar
Remember when everything “salted egg” was all the rage? It all started with Irvin’s Salted Egg Chips. Soon, every other local and regional brand started making its own variation of salted egg chips. The flavour was such a hit that salted egg was added to all sorts of food products, from popcorn to ice cream and tarts – even bubble tea!
This year, we’re expecting a change in tastes from savoury to sweet, with brown sugar taking centre stage. Whether it’s brown sugar bubble tea (as popularised by Taiwanese bubble tea brand Tiger Sugar) or brown sugar-flavoured popcorn, F&B brands are picking up this trend and turning it into the next big thing.
The recent holiday season in Taiwan saw the launch of a limited edition pizza topped with mozzarella cheese and brown sugar pearls that caused a frenzy, with many queuing up to get their hands on it. It’s probably only a matter of time before a similar version surfaces in Singapore.
7. Bubble Tea
From ice cream and egg tarts to pizzas and even a themed exhibition factory, the surge of bubble tea-inspired creations does not seem to be slowing down any time soon.
It started out as a refreshing beverage, but has since been transformed into a myriad of food creations incorporating the ever-so-familiar milk tea flavour. While there are the usual desserts, such as milk tea soft serve topped with pearls or milk tea-flavoured ice cream bars studded with pearls, the trend isn’t limited to conventional creations. KFC introduced brown sugar boba tea tarts (think a milk tea version of an egg tart).
We also saw toast paired with brown sugar boba, and even croissants filled with milk tea-infused custard and pearls. Spice World Hotpot took it to the next level with a Bubble Tea Hotpot that included a range of toppings, such as Oreo cookies and mango popping pearls, accompanying a thick layer of milk foam.
8. International Names
In 2019, we noticed an influx of foreign food and lifestyle markets setting up pop-ups in Singapore. Apart from the famed Artbox pop-up and Shilin Market 2019, there was also Cafe Culture 2019, which brought many international names under one roof – think Line Croissanterie from Melbourne, or Sisterfields from Seminyak.
We’re seeing more and more of these international brands making their way here, and this looks set to continue. Expect more of your favourite foreign food festivals or brands, with the latest addition being Bangkok’s famed Chatuchak Weekend Market making its first-ever pop-up appearance here.
Who needs air tickets to get a taste of the world now?
9. Ugly Food
Did you know that the amount of produce that reaches the supermarket is less than half of what is grown? The other half – those with bruises, marks, or that just look weird – is discarded because of the lack of aesthetic appeal. While they might not look appealing to a consumer‘s eye, they are actually 100 per cent consumable.
With the growth in concern over food waste and the push to become more environmentally friendly, there has been more awareness over the availability of “ugly produce”. Some supermarkets in Singapore have a section dedicated to such produce, with marked down prices. Then there’s Uglyfood Singapore, a company that is dedicated to reducing food wastage.
Apart from fresh produce, it also offers its own 100 per cent cold-pressed juices and dairy-free sorbets. Some restaurants in Singapore are also known to use ugly produce in their menu offerings, showing that appearances do not matter, especially when it comes to food.