It’s that time of year again and by “that” I mean, the beginning. January is the official month for looking forward and those of us in the food world have much to look forward to in 2011. Different forecasts for the year have begun to appear in earnest, so today we are looking at five of the trends most everyone seems to be able to agree on.

App is for Appetite

We’ve covered a few of the ways in which eating has gone mobile in the last year. If the last week is any indication, 2011 will see mobile devices give the fork some stiff competition when it comes to required mealtime handheld. Google launched an app for Google Places and Hotpot yesterday, that looks to give Yelp some stiff competition. On the foodier circuit, Tasting Table launched their “To-Go” app yesterday to help tech savvy gourmands track cravings and culinary bucket lists in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and DC.

Spice of Life

Nutritionists have been pointing to the spice rack for years as a way to help Americans in particular reduce a dependence on sodium, sugar and fat for flavoring meals. However, the Thai, Japanese, Indian and North African seasonings experienced via restaurants are starting to trickle down into home kitchens and 2011 will be a pivotal year for that translation. In other news sure to make the new year an optimistic one for dietitians (and making for a great pairing opportunity with the spices above), the Wall Street Journal has proclaimed 2011 to be The Year of the Vegetable.

Specialty Diets

The gluten-free diet shot to household recognition last year. Many large food manufacturers have added gluten-free items to their portfolios with some creating entire sub-brands to cater to the new market. Much of the charge for awareness was led by the blog community. Shauna James Ahern, the blogger behind Gluten-Free Girl, had her cookbook of gluten-free recipes make the New York Times list for Best Cookbooks of 2010. The movement to accommodate specialty diets more accessibly is only poised to grow larger in 2011.

Food-Focused Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate and consumer commitment to reducing hunger will both be more recognizable in 2011, positively impacting groups like Share Our Strength and Feeding America. Something to watch for: mobile applications allowing consumers the ability to personalize donations at point of purchase by choosing from a list of CSR partners.

Meals on Wheels

Food trucks, pop-up restaurants, gourmet takeout menus…good food will be available on-the-go in just about every form this year and the trend has started to move beyond major urban areas.

Bonus trend

Pie. The cupcake has reigned supreme as the sugar docent of choice for the better part of a decade but with the resurgence of comfort food on many menus, pie may make for a very rustic ruler in 2011. I would ask when it was that pie went out of style but can’t deny a deep personal satisfaction at the thought of a warm slice suddenly a la mode by the original definition.

Additional Reading:

Marion Nestle’s Predictions in the San Francisco Chronicle

National Restaurant Association Reveals Hottest Menu Items for 2011

Bon Appetit’s 5 Trends to Look for in 2011

The Independent’s Food Trends to Peek in 2011

The Globe and Mail Food Trends for 2011

Super Market News Trends for 2011

Image credit: ToKissTheCook

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