Ever Heard of Water Kefir? Expert Believes This Drink Will Make a Splash in 2023

Every time I'm on social media, there's a new food or drink fad going viral. From TikTok's pesto eggs and hard seltzer cocktails to meal prepping, these trends — as cliché as they may seem — play a big role in what we eat and drink, as well as the ingredients we buy for our everyday cooking. Restaurants, too, use culinary trends to add new and exciting dishes to their menus.

The beginning of the year is the perfect time to explore the food trends that are on the horizon, which is why we asked two experts in food and drink trends to share their predictions for 2023. “There’s always something new to be discovered in the food world that’s destined to catch on and make a splash,” Annanya Raghavan, Trends Analyst at Google Trends, tells First for Women.

How are food trends decided?

Several factors contribute to the development of food trends. Raghavan outlines three ways they can gain traction:

  • Seasonality plays a role in food trends, which are reflected in Google search queries like “how to make gingerbread house frosting.” This query ranked second on December 2022's list of top trending “how to make…” searches in the US.

  • Some trends are virality-driven by social media stars. For example, last month's top trending sauce search in the US was YouTuber MrBeast's Pizzafy Sauce.

  • Chefs, restaurateurs, and bar owners create trends when they launch unique dining concepts or introduce changes to processes (as in, an innovation in beer fermentation process, for instance).

Zane Adams, Co-CEO of FedUp Foods, says a research-based approach to predicting and tracking trends in the culinary world is best. “At FedUp Foods, we have an in-house lab that conducts a combination of exacting scientific process and intuitive taste-testing as well as market research — which I then study to determine trends and how to improve existing ideas,” he says. The process of identifying these trends varies, but the end result is a new ingredient to add to your pantry or, in some cases, a unique cooking method.

What food trends will be popular in 2023?

Adams believes that health will be the driving factor for this year’s food and drink trends. “I think 2023 will be a year of wandering for function. Living in a post-Coronavirus economy has shaped a lot of our lifestyles — food included. Food shortages and rising costs against the uncertainty of getting sick (again, for some people) will allow for deeper interest in foods that support a function or rather ‘have a benefit’ to the body,” he explains.

Here are three emerging food and drink trends Adams is keeping a close eye on:

  • Textured Tibicos water: This fermented drink (also called water kefir) has a unique texture and taste compared to competitors like kombucha, cavass, tella, or chicha. Tibicos is known as a “softer” fermented beverage because of its lactic acid, which mitigates the sharp, acetic taste found in other vinegar or kombucha ferments. The microbiota of tibicos contains different acids – predominantly lactic acid bacteria and yeast – to nourish the cells in your gut and body.

  • Functionally stacked foods: Functionally stacked foods (or functional foods) incorporate multiple health benefits to support a bodily function and/or lower disease risk. Sentiments such as “let food be thy medicine” and “let it not harm my body” are emerging as buyer preferences when shopping online and in-store. One example of a functional food is Manuka honey, which has several benefits, including boosting immunity, aiding digestion, and healing skin issues.

  • Fermented condiments: The future of condiments is fermentation. There’s innovation in everything including fermented hot sauces, mustards, and ketchups. These types of condiments are healthier additions to everyday meals than the commercial kind because fermentation enhances the bioavailability of nutrients in foods.

The Trend I’m Most Excited About

Zane’s predictions provide a sneak peek at what the future of food holds. For myself, textured Tibicos water is the standalone trend on this list. I like a carbonated drink now and then, but I find soda too sugary, and kombucha — despite its popularity — too tart and fizzy. I'm hopeful that water kefir, with its 16 calories per one cup serving and milder flavor and texture, will work for me. It can even be made from scratch, which allows me to enjoy this drink before I start seeing it everywhere this year!