Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — San Miguel Foods Culinary Center (SMFCC), the food creative arm of San Miguel Foods, in partnership with Ginebra San Miguel Inc. (GSMI) and San Miguel Brewery Inc. (SMBI), recently staged “Food Forward”, which provided media a preview of upcoming food and beverage trends for 2024 and beyond.

Organized by SMFCC every three years, the event was held at the vibrant culture hub, The Astbury, in Makati City, and featured a communal dining concept. This is to reflect how technology has influenced and transformed culinary experiences in the past couple of years.

“San Miguel Food and Beverage (SMFB) is a key player in the food and beverage industry, and as such, we continuously strive to stay ahead of the trends,” said Llena Tan-Arcenas, San Miguel Foods Culinary Services Manager.

“In recent years, technology, including social media, has played a significant role in connecting people from all over the world. With this, culinary interests have expanded, and many of us have become food enthusiasts in search of diverse flavors. Through this event, we want to further encourage connections through food,” added Arcenas.

Photo from San Miguel Foods Culinary Center

The event served not only as a peek into food trends, but also showcased San Miguel’s wide array of food and beverage products and their versatility. While many of its brands have long been household staples and Filipino favorites enjoyed on their own, San Miguel Foods’ own culinary experts showed how these can be incorporated even in trend-setting cuisines.

“While we focused on five specific upcoming trends, what is common and timeless to all, is an emphasis on quality and the ability of food and beverages to give delight–which are all hallmarks of San Miguel products,” Arcenas said.

Photo from San Miguel Foods Culinary Center

Beyond sampling the latest food trends, guests also enjoyed on-trend drinks and gained valuable beverage insights from SMBI Brew Master Antonieto Alan Sienes and GSMI Master Mixologist Nino Cruz.

Here are San Miguel Foods Culinary Center’s top five trends of 2024:

Sustainable Dining

Photo from San Miguel Foods Culinary Center

Sustainable dining is not just about what you eat. People are becoming more aware of how their choices impact the environment, and how these may result in food waste. Sustainable dining trends are emerging as consumers realize the importance of food choices.

Under sustainable dining is the climatarian diet, which emphasizes low environmental impact, promotes plant-forward choices, and highlights the use of local and seasonal ingredients.

Another trend involves plant-based and lab-grown food, providing diverse options as base ingredients and convenient, ready-to-eat products. Notably, sustainable seafood alternatives are on the rise, incorporating ingredients such as mushrooms, soy, seaweed, fruits, vegetable oils, and starches.

Another focus in sustainable dining is on eco-friendly packaging, meeting consumer demand for regenerative and upcycled materials. Lastly, artificial intelligence (AI) contributes to efficient and ecological food production, by predicting harvest periods and minimizing food waste.

AI can assist chefs in recipe creation, menu planning, flavor prediction, and ingredient combination recommendations.

For the event, SMFCC creatively translated the sustainable dining trend in two distinct ways. One highlight was Hipong Kabute with Tajin Pickled Mango and Yuzu Soy Glaze. This is a plant-based seafood dish crafted from king mushrooms coated with Baron All-Purpose Flour and upcycled bran, mimicking the texture of shrimps. The dish is complemented by yuzu soy glaze and Tajin pickled green mangoes served over crispy nori-rice wrappers.

Interestingly, majority of the dishes presented at the event came in edible containers, crafted from dough made with Baron All-Purpose Flour, Bake Best Bread Improver, and Emperor’s Best Instant Yeast, along with upcycled bran—a by-product of flour milling.

“Sustainability is our number one trend this year because it isn’t just prevalent in food; it’s our top priority and a commitment we actively practice as a company,” shared Arcenas.

She added: “San Miguel Foods envisions a healthier nation through improved nutrition and our commitment to contribute to achieving food security for the Philippines. Programs anchored on this vision will enhance our products’ nutritional value, and we’re also developing affordable options for the low-income market to combat malnutrition.”

Healthspan Wellness

Photo from San Miguel Foods Culinary Center

The United Nations predicts a significant global demographic shift by 2050, where one in six people will be over 65, compared to one out of 11 in 2019. This emphasizes the need for longevity and healthspan extension. Healthspan, defined as disease-free years lived, is now a crucial focus, highlighting the importance of the quality and quantity of productive years.

In response, consumers are choosing better-for-you foods with vibrant flavors and colors, offering functional benefits like energy, focus, and relaxation. The trend gravitates towards a plant-forward approach, featuring mushrooms, botanicals, florals, exotic fruits, tropical flavors, protein alternatives, and fermented foods.

Capturing this trend, SMFCC presented Meat-free Adobo Floral Salad with Lychee Beer Vinaigrette, a blend of greens and edible flowers paired with Veega Meat-Free Adobo Flakes. The dish was elevated by a vinaigrette featuring lychee bits and San Miguel Flavored Beer Lychee.

Continuing the plant-forward approach, guests also sampled Meat-Free Tapa Iloko Beer-ria, combining the flavors of a local favorite, Iloko empanada, with Mexican-style birria. The dish was made with Veega Meat-Free Tapa and complemented by a lemon-flavored, beer-laced dipping sauce using San Miguel Flavored Beer Lemon. Both offerings cater to those seeking meat-free alternatives and provide excellent protein sources.

This trend also sees diverse beverage options, with alcoholic beverages having more unique flavors, emphasizing energy, and options for low-alcohol and zero-proof drinks. Botanical ingredients will also be present to enhance presentation and taste, with low-alcohol and vegetable-forward cocktails incorporating savory elements like herbs, spices, and mild cheeses.

GSMI’s G&T (Gin & Tea) Ultralight Spirit Drink. Photo from San Miguel Foods Culinary Center

Aligning with this trend is GSMI’s G&T (Gin & Tea) Ultralight Spirit Drink, a low-calorie, low-proof beverage with natural ingredients. Varieties include Lemon Ginger and Apple Black Tea. Additional botanical blends from GSMI include GSM Premium Gin, distilled from juniper berries, and other select imported gin botanicals with natural citrus flavors. Another offering is 1834 Premium Distilled Gin, which features calamansi and sampaguita for a unique finish.

GSMI’s Master Mixologist Nino Cruz presented two cocktail drinks crafted with 1834 Premium Distilled Gin: Sol de las Islas, a mix of gin, lychee, dark chocolate, grapefruit bitter, calamansi juice, and Sampaguita syrup, garnished with the “face of the sun,” as ode to the Katipunan flag, and Heneral, a fusion of white negroni, white wine, dry vermouth, and gin.

Photo from San Miguel Foods Culinary Center

Similarly, SMBI offered zero to low alcohol beer, fruit-flavored beers, and premium beers on top of its best-selling brands. San Miguel Flavored Beer recently introduced Lychee as an addition to its Apple and Lemon variants, containing only 3% alcohol. Lastly, San Mig Hard Seltzer offers naturally-flavored sparkling water, with orange and dalandan zests, 5% alcohol, low calories, zero sugar, and no preservatives.

SMB Brewmaster Antonieto Alan Sienes took guests on a beer-tasting tour through its portfolio of brands, introducing the intricacies of each brew. From appearance to taste, Sienes discussed what makes each San Miguel Beer unique and how each appeal to a discerning palate.

Borderless Global Flavors

Photos from San Miguel Foods Culinary Center

Driven by a desire for adventure and shared experiences, consumers are immersing themselves in a global culinary expedition. Highlighting different cultures and regional cuisines, among popular global trends right now are third-culture cuisine, Balkan cuisine, local ingredients going global, the spice heist, and elevated convenience.

Third culture cuisine is all about creating new dishes inspired by multiple cultures, especially by those who grew up outside their parents’ cultural backgrounds. Balkan cuisine, on the other hand, is a mix of Southeastern Europe and Western Asia influences.

Local ingredients are also gaining global popularity, with calamansi, pandan, ube, and other root vegetables gaining culinary prominence. Meanwhile, the spice heist trend is evolving, introducing unique combinations like sweet-bitter and sour-umami. Trending flavors include Nashville hot, agave syrup, spicy ranch, tajin, and Italian Calabrian peppers, with an increased focus on earthy spices with functional properties for health and wellness.

The accessibility of global cuisine is growing, thanks to an increased appreciation for convenient products such as packaged mixes, sauces, starters, and other pantry items carrying regional flavors and ingredients. Restaurants, too, are starting to feature lesser-known cuisines, making access to global flavors easy without the need to travel.

SMFCC presented five distinctive dishes to showcase global flavors, beginning with Pinoy Mezze, a Filipino twist on Balkan-inspired appetizers. The dish featured a mix of whipped Magnolia Cheezee Milky White in Greek Yogurt, Turmeric Calamansi Hummus, and Pinoy Salad ala Tabbouleh. This was complemented by the savory notes of Purefoods Deli Hungarian Cheese Sausage and Purefoods Corned Beef Salpicao, enjoyed with warm flour tortillas made using San Miguel Mills’ Tortilla Mix.

Next came Smoked Keso, Kangkong & Luncheon Meat Banitsa—a flaky Bulgarian-inspired cheese pie incorporating Magnolia Cheezee Milky White, Magnolia Cream Cheese, Magnolia Gold Butter Unsalted, local water spinach, and Purefoods Luncheon Meat.

The third creation on the menu was Caldereta Goulash—a savory Hungarian-style stew featuring slow-cooked Purefoods Heat & Eat Beef Caldereta, Purefoods Deli Sausage Schublig, sauce made more savory with Magnolia Gold Butter Unsalted, and an assortment of vegetables served over mashed potato.

The fourth offering, Chicken Bola-Bola Kofta, was as a richly-spiced meatball dish that drew inspiration from Balkan, Middle Eastern, and South Asian culinary influences. This dish featured ready-to-cook Magnolia Chicken Timplados Bola-Bola in a tomato-based curry sauce made creamier with Magnolia Gold Butter Unsalted and Magnolia All Purpose Cream.

Rounding out the global flavors was Okoy Chicharon Bulaklak with Rose Water Turmeric Pinakurat Puree and Rose Water Gin Caviar. This dish was made with Purefoods Chicharon Bulaklak and sweet potatoes, topped with a unique rose water turmeric pinakurat sauce and rose water gin caviar crafted with 1834 Premium Distilled Gin.

Retro Revival and Newstalgia

Photos from San Miguel Foods Culinary Center

Many people embrace yesterday’s trends to find comfort, familiarity, and safety, especially after the pandemic. As such, a revival of retro-themed foods and flavors is seen, enabling people to reconnect with their beloved brands and feel-good favorites from childhood. There is also a growing interest in creating new memories or nostalgic versions with updated twists. This is “newstalgia”.

In line with this trend, SMFCC introduced dishes like Pancit Pares with BBQ ala Liempo, a modern take on the Filipino staple that featured square-shaped fried Miki noodles, Purefoods Heat & Eat Beef Pares stew, Purefoods Pinoy BBQ ala Liempo, Magnolia Chicken Station Shanghai Mix, Magnolia Chicken Station Chicken Skin, and liver tulle made with Star Nutri-Meats Liver Spread, all topped with hot pares sauce.

The traditional pandesal was also elevated through Beer Pandesal with Smoke-infused Cheese and Calamansi Honey Marmalade. This version made use of San Miguel Pale Pilsen-infused dough, smoke-infused cheese spread made with Magnolia Cheddar Cheese, Magnolia Cheezee, Magnolia Cream Cheese, and locally sourced calamansi marmalade. The pandesal dough was made with Emperor Hard Wheat Flour, Golden Wheat Whole Flour Fine, Magnolia Buttercup, Emperor’s Best Instant Yeast, and Bake Best Bread Improver.

Poultry will continue to be a favorite, especially as it is a versatile, delicious, and cost-effective protein source that is easily accessible, easy to prepare, and certainly shareable. Grilled Chipotle Isaw and Wings highlighted this trend, featuring Magnolia Streat Sarap Chicken Isaw and Magnolia Chicken Timplados Oriental Wings, marinated and basted with chipotle seasoned sauce. It was served with Chipotle Ranch dressing made with Magnolia Real Mayonnaise, Magnolia All Purpose Cream, and Magnolia Fresh Milk, topped with Chipotle Tulle made with Baron All Purpose Flour.

San Miguel Cerveza Blanca. Photo from San Miguel Foods Culinary Center

The newstalgia trend extends to unconventional grilling, including cheese, fruits, and veggies. Grilling intensifies flavors and imparts a charred essence by converting the natural sugars in food. As an example, SMFCC prepared Inihaw na Bacon at Pakwan sa Cerveza Atchara, featuring grilled Purefoods Thick Cut Bacon, adobo-marinated watermelon, sweet potato chips, and cerveza-pickled vegetables using San Miguel Cerveza Blanca.

Little Luxe

Photo from San Miguel Foods Culinary Center

This trend is about indulgence and self-care, exploring bold flavors and colors to bring a sense of luxury and joy. It aims to elevate everyday experiences by transforming simple ingredients into global flavors.

Popular indulgent dessert profiles will feature strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate flavors. Emerging trends include caramelized fruits, glazed fruit desserts, floral and fruit-infused desserts, and sweet-savory combinations with herbs and spices like mango-habanero. The demand for indulgent flavors with healthier formulations is also on the rise.

In baking, the trend leans towards reinventing classics such as flaky croissants with creative shapes, inclusions, and fillings. Handcrafted or artisanal treats are gaining popularity for a premium indulgence, and dessert-inspired flavors are making their way into various baked goods.

SMFCC embraced this trend by crafting four distinct sweet treats. First was Kamote Bicho-Bicho with Cinnamon Hot Honey, showcasing a fluffy Filipino version of a sugar donut. The dough, made with a mix of Emperor Hard Wheat Flour, Baron All-Purpose Flour, Bake Best Instant Yeast, Bake Best Bread Improver, Magnolia Buttercup, and Magnolia Brown Eggs, was drizzled with sweet-spicy syrup.

Next was the Halo-Halo Bingsu Style, a milk-based and Earl Grey tea-infused shaved ice dessert topped with grated Magnolia Cheezee. Blending traditional Pinoy halo-halo with Korean bingsu, this dessert featured colored glutinous rice balls over a chocolate-lined edible container, with fluffy shaved ice made using Magnolia Full Cream Milk and Magnolia All-Purpose Cream.

1834 Premium Distilled Gin. Photo from San Miguel Foods Culinary Center

Next was the Coffee Gin Pastillas—molded local milk candy infused with a rich coffee taste from Moccona Classic 5 Medium Roast and 1834 Premium Distilled Gin.

Finally, there was Pan de Regla Croissant, which reimagined the classic French croissant as a Pinoy favorite. With 55 layers of buttery and flaky pastry, filled with decadent red, moist pudding from day-old bread and milk, this pastry used Magnolia Gold Butter Unsalted, Emperor Hard Wheat Flour, Baron All-Purpose Flour, Emperor’s Best Instant Yeast, Magnolia Full Cream Milk, and Magnolia Brown Eggs for the croissant. The rich red pudding was made by combining Star Margarine Classic, Baron All-Purpose Flour, and Magnolia Brown Eggs.