Spring’s finally here—or at least we hope so! In fashion, we have a good idea of what to expect this season: lavender hues, asymmetrical neck lines, checks, and fringe. But what trends can you expect to find in the grocery store?
This spring’s food trends center around one theme: products that awaken the senses. In this age of digital everything, consumers are craving more sensory stimulation and connection to the “real world” around them.  Food manufacturers are delivering on this – amplifying colors, sounds, smells, taste, and even touch. Here are 5 spring trends we’ve scouted from local grocery stores, guaranteed to provide a sensorial experience.
1)    Eat the “Pastel” Rainbow
In 2017, rainbow colors were everywhere in food. We saw tri-colored carrots in Whole Foods, rainbow bagels at Stew Leonards, and even unicorn frappucinos at Starbucks. For Spring 2018, it’s all about pastel. Locally, look out for Trader Joe’s Organic Rainbow Cauliflower. These frozen cauliflower florets come in naturally pastel shades of green, orange, purple and white, and are only $2.99 for a 16 oz bag.
Another place that pastel will take over this spring is in the ice cream aisle. If you’ve spent any time in Japan, you know all about mochi.  It looks like a dumpling with sweet rice dough on the outside and ice cream on the inside.  Mochi is showing up everywhere at grocery retail these days- there’s even a self-serve mochi  bar at Whole Foods. This Spring, look for pastel mochi in flavors like Pistachio, Strawberry, Coconut Pineapple and Green Tea.
2)    Flower Power
Over the last year, we have witnessed the rise of flowers, botanicals and tea as a flavor profile. Think rose flavored waters and matcha ice cream. This aromatic trend will be everywhere this spring. One floral flavored product we just scouted at Palmer’s Market is Masala Pop in Caramel Rose. This sweet and salty popcorn is organic, gluten free and tastes like light buttery caramel with a hint of rose. Another example of this trend can be found in the yogurt aisle: Icelandic Provisions Skyr. Skyr has long been a staple in Icelander’s diet, but has recently gained popularity in the US due to its stronger health proposition (high protein, low sugar) and creamy texture. Icelandic Provisions can be found at Stew Leonard’s in flavors like Peach Cloudberry and Blueberry Bilberry.
3)    Puffed Snacks Pack A Crunch
One of the biggest trends for 2018 is already all over our local grocery stores – puffed snacks. What is it about this food format that has created such appeal? Consumers crave the extra loud crunch of puffs, which is known for enhancing the taste. In fact, many say that the these puffed snacks can include less flavoring and sometimes have cleaner ingredient profiles because the crunch sound already heightens the taste experience. One of our favorites scouted at Stop & Shop is Hippeas Organic Chickpea Puffs.  The Bohemian BBQ flavor and Sriracha Sunrise have been dubbed “addictive” by our local scouts.
4)    Food As Art
Food is naturally tactile, and the pairing of textures and shapes is nothing new to most chefs. However, brands are now combining textures and shapes in packaged food, to enhance the overall eating experience. One great example we just scouted at Palmer’s Market are Zoni Meal Kits. This CT based company offers frozen plant-based stove top meal kits, pairing textures like sweet potato spirals with a cashew cream sauce and lentil kale mushroom fritters. It’s almost like a subscription meal kit in the freezer aisle.
Another example of combining textures is the rising number of beverages containing seeds with health benefits, like basil or chia. One beverage with texture scouted at Walter Stewart’s Market is Mamma Chia, in flavors like Raspberry Passion and Coconut Mango.
5)    The Taste of Fire
Consumers today are gravitating towards the taste of fire– charred, flamed, fire-roasted and smoked. We’re seeing “fire” used as a flavor in more and more products. Trader Joe’s delivers on this with its Fire Roasted Bell Peppers & Onions which you can find in the freezer section. Pair it with their shaved beef steak and provolone cheese on a roll and It’s a perfect easy weeknight meal.
Another place we’re seeing fire and heat this spring is in specialty cheese, as consumers, especially younger demographics, look for bigger, bolder flavors with heat.  Examples scouted at Walter Stewart’s Market include Grafton Village Smoked Chili and Shelburne Farms Smoked Cheddar Cheese.
Finally, one of our favorite products scouted in Whole Foods captures all the senses: four chef-inspired fresh pasta kits by Sunset Produce.  Each kit contains gourmet spices, Stozzapreti pasta, herb-infused oil and fresh tomatoes and are appropriately named: You Make Me Hot, You Make Me Fresh, You Make Me Chill and You Make Me Blush. We think we just fell in love.
Do you find grocery shopping daunting?  Be part of the conversation and discover new products on your grocery store shelves that are tasty, practical and recommended by moms like you. Follow @scoutedfood on Instagram and Scouted Food on Facebook.
Shilpa Rosenberry is a local Darien mom and CEO of Scouted, a website and app launching this year to take the monotony out of food shopping and help consumers discover grocery products recommended by people they know and trust.

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