Food Trend Alert: Artisan is the New Quality

What’s old is new again.  Today’s hottest food trend is all about tradition, nostalgia and authentic, old-fashioned food preparation.  In one word, it’s artisan.

Artisan has become a cue for quality.  It’s also been a way to bring the process into the product.  People not only want to know where their food comes from, they want to know how it’s made.

photo courtesy of Flickr user Patchwork

photo courtesy of Flickr user Patchwork

Even if that rustic loaf is not truly hand-made by artisinal bakers or that fig jam is not preserved by farm wives — they’re trying to look like it.

Rustic, small-batches, hand-crafted are the new desirable attributes.

In a time when many people feel increasingly distant from the means of production for what they eat, artisan foods carry inherent value by granting consumers an opportunity to know where their food comes from, to see the hands that made it and to understand how it is made, according to the Artisan Foods: Culinary Trend Mapping Report from the Center for Culinary Development and Packaged Facts.

Powering this artisan food trend are several important drivers that revolve around local and seasonal eating, a love of handmade and authentic food, a quest for exciting new flavors, a desire to engage with food and producers, and eco-consciousness.

Kimberly Egan, CEO of the Center for Culinary Development, said:

“Consumers, manufacturers, and restaurant operators all recognize that artisan is synonymous with quality when it comes to ingredients and preparation. The appeal lies in the stories that connect products to consumers which in turn offer deeper meaning and connects to personal values.

Artisan foods are everywhere, from their pervasive presence at large chain grocery store bakeries featuring in-house baked “artisan” loaves to fast casual chains such as Panera Bakery that have built an entire sandwich menu around freshly baked breads.

Even Starbucks is trying to jump on the artisan food trend.  The company refers to its beverages as “handcrafted” and uses artisan to describe its line-up of breakfast sandwiches and snack plates.

Manufacturers and restaurant operators have recognized that “artisan” has become another term for “quality.” It evokes small producers making traditional foods by hand, treating production as a craft and putting great care into the outcome. Larger producers are able to capture the aura of artisan with rustic-looking products, distinctive ingredients, unique cooking methods and stories that connect products to consumers.

photo courtesy of Flickr user FrogMiller

photo courtesy of Flickr user FrogMiller

The artisan food report identifies several ways this trend is coming to life.

  • Gastropubs: This hybrid breed of pub mixes a wide selection of often-artisanal beers and spirits with high-quality housemade comfort food and a casual, community-oriented atmosphere.
  • Condiments, Preserved Foods and Heirloom Produce: These locally sourced and home-grown foods are made using traditional cultivation and preservation methods, bringing consumers closer to the sources of their food and appealing to eco-minded people seeking to go green.
  • Boutique Booze: Small-batch spirits appeal to consumers seeking liquor with diverse and unique flavors.
  • Handmade Ice Cream: Using old-fashioned methods and organic and local ingredients, these ice cream innovators offer extraordinary versions of a familiar favorite.
  • Butchery: “Rock star butchers” are raising interest in meat, hosting meat cutting classes and demonstrations while placing an emphasis on locally sourced and heritage options.
  • Artisan Pizza: An Italian classic turned American staple gets an artisan makeover, as pizzaiolos take the craft to a new level, perfecting wood-fired crust, incorporating more high-quality ingredients and going global with toppings.
  • Reinvented American Cheese: Indulgent, hand-crafted and all-natural, artisan cheese is easily incorporated into a diverse array of dishes or enjoyed on its own.

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