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Lab-grown proteins, edible containers, and other food innovations we’ll eat in 2024 |


Lab-grown proteins, edible containers, and other food innovations we’ll eat in 2024

CULTURE VULTURE - Therese Jamora-Garceau - The Philippine Star
Lab-grown proteins, edible containers, and other food innovations weâll eat in 2024
Chef Llena Tan- Arcenas of the San Miguel Foods Culinary Center.
STAR / File

San Miguel Foods Culinary Center recently presented “Food Forward: A Taste of 2024 Food Trends” hosted by Paolo Abrera and chef Llena Tan-Arcenas, who saw these trends at the 2023 Thailand Food Expo, as well as from SMFCC’s research and observations.

Following these trends, the chef and her team served up food and drink using new San Miguel products and beverages.

Social media has played a significant role in turning people from different parts of the world into foodies. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok have broken barriers and expanded culinary interest for today’s foodies, who like discovering bold flavors and textures while remaining conscious about the environment and their wellbeing after the pandemic.

“We're quick to share something and that heightens awareness of food discoveries,” says Arcenas, “and we are also seeing a trend that emphasizes social and communal connection through eating.”

Which is why the first platter was a Pinoy Mezze with Turmeric Calamansi Hummus, Pinoy Salad a la Tabbouleh, Whipped Magnolia Milky White in Greek Yogurt, and Purefoods Corned Beef Salpicao.

The accompanying new canned drinks were San Mig Hard Seltzer Citrus Mix, All Natural G&T Ultralight Spirit Drink in Lemon Ginger flavor, San Miguel Cerveza Blanca wheat beer, and a Heneral gin cocktail paired with a lollipop.

Sustainable dining

Concerns about sustainability, carbon footprint and food waste have resulted in adapting a climatarian diet. This is an environmentally conscious approach to eating that favors foods with low environmental impact, plant-forward choices and using local and seasonal ingredients. Sustainable seafood alternatives are on the rise coming from mushrooms, soy, seaweed, fruits, vegetable oils and starches.

Alternative proteins. Animal-free products can now be grown using cell cultures, aka lab-grown cultures or cultivated meat. A sustainable alternative to protein with the same sensory and nutritional value, the first cell-based food was a lab-grown meat burger patty and last year, lab-grown chicken.

Other emerging protein sources are hemp or marijuana, marine plants, algae, fermentation, and insects.

Edible containers. Another focus is eco-friendly utensils and packaging, so now we have edible tableware like cups, spoons and straws, and edible packaging filler using nanotechnology. 

In our next platter, most of the foods were in edible containers made with bran.

AI contributing to efficient and ecological food production. Artificial intelligence can predict harvests to minimize spoilage, and in terms of dining, can help chefs create recipes, plan menus, predict flavors and even recommend ingredient combinations.

“Sustainability is our top priority as a company,” Arcenas says. “For San Miguel Foods, we envision a healthier nation through improved nutrition and that's our commitment — to contribute to the food-security issue in the country, which includes improving the nutritional value of our products, as well as developing products that are low-cost to address the needs of the low-income market, so that we will also be able to combat malnutrition, which is still prevalent.”

On our second platter were foods depicting the first two trends under Sustainable Dining: Hipong Kabute with Tajin Pickled Mango and Yuzu-soy Glaze made using Baron All-Purpose flour; Vegan-friendly meat-free Tapa Iloko Beer-ia empanada using Veega Meat-free Tapa and San Miguel Flavored Beer in Lemon; and meat-free Adobo Floral Salad with Lychee Beer Vinaigrette using Veega Meat-free Adobo Flakes and San Miguel Flavored Beer in Lychee.

Health and wellness

Health-span wellness. In their 2019 report, the United Nations predicted that by 2050, one out of six people will be over age 65. “With that, it's very important to emphasize longevity and health-span extension,” said Arcenas. “Health span is defined as the number of disease-free years that one person lives. So with that, consumers will prefer better-for-you foods that are vibrant in flavor and color and provide functional benefits like boosting energy, promoting focus and relaxation, anti-inflammation, and gut health or good digestion.”

Mushrooms and botanicals are in. With the nature vibe prominent this year, mushrooms are one of the biggest trends given its taste, texture and functional properties. “Consumers will find mushrooms in dining, packaged products and new, crave-able formats,” the chef says. “I've tried mushroom bagoong and it’s really good.”

Antioxidant botanicals in the form of flowers and exotic fruits will also be trending, like hibiscus (gumamela), cherry blossoms, elderflower, violets, lavender and rose. “Exotic fruits have become sought-after meal inclusions because they add flair to dishes,” Arcenas says. “Trending fruit flavors will be juicy berry combinations, stone fruits, lychee and peach this year. We have citrus like yuzu, and calamansi, which is an emerging ingredient. And you have tropical fruits like tamarind and dragon fruit making it big this year also.”

Fermented foods. Good for gut health, fermented foods and drinks like kombucha, pickles, kimchi and achara will be on trend.

Alternatives to coffee and alcoholic beverages. We’ll be seeing coffee alternatives and teas with fruits and flowers. “What's trending for alcoholic beverages, people want more flavors, more unusual colors, more energy, more options for low-alcohol and zero-proof drinks.”

To meet that demand, San Miguel has launched zero-alcohol and low-alcohol beers. “Beer is really pure nutrition in the sense that we use malted barley and hops, which has anti-cancer substances,” claims Alan Sienes, San Miguel’s brew master.  “In our Zero-Percent Alcohol you can still enjoy beer’s attributes, and our Low-alcohol beer is only 60 calories and three percent alcohol.”

Borderless global flavors. Driven by a desire for adventure and sharing experiences, consumers are immersing themselves in culinary expeditions, traveling to cultures using regional ingredients. “Popular flavor inspirations for this year would be Balkan and the regional cuisines of Mexico and the Caribbean,” notes chef Llena. “Then you have flavors of Korea, Japan and Southeast Asia, like Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia. Of course, the Philippines is still part of that. And then there is a wave of Third Culture cuisine sweeping through social media, restaurants and even supermarket aisles.” New dishes are created combining cuisines, celebrating fusion heritage cooking and immigrant stories, like Japanese guacamole, Korean potato salad, rice burgers, and banitsa, a Balkan pastry.

Illustrating these trends was our third plate of Chicken Bola-bola Kofta made with Magnolia Chicken Timplados Bola-bola and All-Purpose cream; Smoked Keso, Kangkong and Luncheon Meat Banitsa using Magnolia Cheezee Milky White, cream cheese, Gold Butter Unsalted and Purefoods Luncheon Meat; Caldereta Goulash using Purefoods Heat & Eat Caldereta and Purefoods Deli Sausage Schublig; and Okoy Chicharon Bulaklak with Rosewater-turmeric Pinakurat Puree and Rosewater Gin Caviar using Purefoods Chicharon Bulaklak, Baron All-Purpose flour and 1834 Premium Distilled Gin.

“Our local ingredients are going global, so gaining global popularity this year will be calamansi, pandan and root veggies like ube,” Arcenas says. “Likewise, we have three iconic Asian flavors: ube, milk tea, and black sesame alongside matcha that will come out in new and unexpected formats, like bubble milk tea popcorn.”

It’s going to be a spice heist. While sweet and spicy was popular last year, this year, “that spice heist is now evolving and introducing unique combinations like sweet-bitter,” notes chef Llena. “Bitter is in. And now we have sour-umami, spicy-sour and fruity-spicy. Trending flavors would be hot agave syrup, spicy ranch, tajin and Italian Calabrian peppers. There’s a demand also for earthy spices like turmeric, garam masala and ginger.”

Retro revival and “newstalgia.” Retro-themed foods, well-loved brands, feel-good faves and childhood memories are in, featuring nostalgic dishes with an updated twist. Trending will be celebratory cakes, Smores, gingerbread, banana boats, orange brownies, and pineapple upside-down cake. Seasonal flavors associated with happy memories like peach, pumpkin spice and apple pie will prevail, with our local version being mango float.

“Flavor pairings like dark chocolate coconut, churros, crème brulee and tres leches will be elevated,” Arcenas said. “Memory-making flavors like peach, blackberry, and rose-lychee in a croissant. Comforting soups like chicken soup and sinigang cooked abroad. Trending are laksa, salmorejo and upscale ramen; birria is an emerging ingredient put in pizza and pasta. There will be creative takes on cooking chicken wings, and the cooked/grilled  cheese trend in international party food. Now grilling fruits like watermelon and vegetables and cooking or smoking cheese introduces the charred essence and intensifies flavors.”

Featuring such flavors was our fourth plate of Beer Pandesal with Smoke-infused Cheese and Calamansi Honey Marmalade using San Miguel Pale Pilsen, Magnolia cheeses and butter; Grilled Chipotle Isaw and Wings using Magnolia Street Sarap Chicken Isaw and Chicken Timplados Oriental Wings.

Little luxe.  Classic desserts will be reimagined and reinvented, made by hand, and baked goods will feature dessert flavors, as we tasted in our last plate of Kamote Bicho-bicho with Cinnamon Hot Honey using San Miguel’s brands of flour, yeast and eggs; Halo-halo Bingsu Style using Magnolia dairy for the shaved ice; Coffee Gin Pastillas flavored with Moccona Classic 5 Medium Roast and 1834 Premium Distilled Gin; and Pan de Regla croissant, filled with red pudding made by combining Star Margarine Classic with Baron All Purpose flour and Magnolia Brown Eggs.

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