CAMDEN, N.J. — The top chef at the Campbell Soup Co. recently ate a sandwich he described as “life changing.”
“It’s called a sabich,” said Thomas Griffiths, master chef and vice-president of Culinary at the Camden-based company. “It’s a pita bread with roasted eggplant, slices of baked potato and a salsa made with cucumbers, tomatoes, olive oil and pickles. It’s so incredibly delicious.”
Someday the flavors and ingredients of the Middle Eastern meal may inspire the development of a new soup or sauce at Campbell Soup. The company’s global network of chefs, bakers and culinary professionals has identified modern Middle Eastern cuisine as an emerging trend in its annual Culinary TrendScape report.
Launched in 2014, the report highlights 10 trends in various stages of development, from stage one representing discovery to stage six representing expansion beyond mainstream use. In between are stage two (introduction), stage three (adoption), stage four (mainstream) and stage five (established).
“Trend research gives our chefs a chance to become experts in things that they are passionate about,” Mr. Griffiths said in an interview with Food Business News. “There are so many things that our chefs learn in our research, whether they’re going to a farmers market or a mall or food trucks or conferences in different parts of the world.”
Products that have been inspired by trends featured in past reports include Campbell’s Skillet Thai Curry Chicken Sauce, Arnott’s Tim Tam cookies with caramel, Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Flavor Blasted in Burstin’ BBQ and Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Hearty Burger Buns.
In the latest report, marine greens, advanced Japanese cuisine and mission-driven chefs were identified as trends in the early stages of development. Trends in the adoption stage include food as medicine, modern Middle Eastern cuisine and craft condiments. Moving into the mainstream and beyond are curry, grains, Southern comfort food and coconut.
“One of the ingredients I’m really passionate about is marine greens,” Mr. Griffiths said. “I’ll probably travel to Massachusetts or Maine and the West Coast and maybe even Japan and learn as much as I can so I can be more authoritative, and then I’ll educate and inspire our marketers and our scientists and our chefs — kind of a train-the-trainer mentality — on everything we find about marine greens. And then we can share it in our portfolio, whether it fits in our Americas portfolio or global baked snacks or in our C-Fresh area.”
Not all trends in the report will influence product development. However, this year’s established grains trend already is reflected in Campbell’s new Well Yes! line of soups featuring varieties with quinoa and farro. Coconut, an expanded trend, appears in V8 Veggie Blends Carribbean Greens juice.
As for Middle Eastern cuisine, Mr. Griffiths said, “I think about our Well Yes! soups. We’re so excited about opportunities to put red onions and olives and grains and just make this delicious food for our consumers.
“That’s probably my favorite trend right now that I think we’ll be putting into our portfolio sooner than later.”Click for a slideshow of trends in Campbell’s latest Culinary TrendScape report.