I dont often write about food, but when you think about it, it plays a major part in our daily life.
I researched and found some observations from the Compass Group UK & Ireland, the Food People who compile a list of the top 10 food trends we can expect to emerge or, in some cases, continue into next year.
Serving up dishes that take inspiration from all sorts of exciting and international sources are coming to the fore at the same time as nano-specialists that pour all their energy into mastering single ingredients.
When you look at the world of food, you realise that food trends are really being driven by consumers and what they need and want.
The other point that’s important to consider is the difference between a trend and a fad, A fad is confined to one category, channel or geography and usually just lasts for one season or year.
A good way to spot trends that will stand the test of time is to identify the ones that have one or more wider social drivers, such as health and wellbeing, or seeking experiences that support them.”
Different barbecue techniques inherited from around the world will become part of restaurant theatre, Consumers will continue to crave the charred and smoky flavours from a barbecue.
As we see more chefs and barbecue operators starting to think of the barbecue or fire as an incredibly versatile cooking method, rather than an institution confined by history we can expect this momentum to continue with alternatives
to meats, such as fish and game, vegetables, new cuisines and desserts from the barbecue.
Who’s doing it: Temper, London W1F
As travel has become more affordable and technology ensures the world becomes better connected, the lines that divide regional fare have blurred.
Chefs and home cooks are growing, buying and cooking with ingredients more typical of exotic cuisines than with their own flare, forget about geographical barriers – flavour profiles from across the globe are being used in our kitchens, as consumers become more aware of the unusual flavour imparted by these world ingredients.
Who’s doing it: the Providores, London W1U
This is a food movement that is less about fusion and more about choice,
Quantity and quality are key, as influences and ingredients move from specific regional classics to global favourites, taking their seat at the world table.
Who’s doing it: Caravan, London N1C
This is almost the perfect counter-trend to multi-cuisine cooking, focusing as it does on expertise, excellence and the narrative.
“Now is the time to be a specialist in your field,” says Banks. “Make your food shine, showing it off to its best possible potential. These specialists are showcasing individual ingredients and creating surprising and delicious dishes with only one main ingredient.
“These nano-specialists are becoming masters of the humble avocado or bag of crisps, as boundaries are pushed and experimentation takes over.”
Who’s doing it: Yolk, London EC2M
Consumers are more interested in where their food comes from than ever – from the breed to the farm and the farmer’s name. But why do they want so much information?
Gorgeous Group’s Bargh says: “In a world of consumer distrust, knowing the back story helps to create an element of trust and transparency between the consumer and the retailer, brand and chef, and gives consumers the ability to create a real emotional connection.”
Compass’s Davies agrees: “People seek honest stories they can trust in an uncertain world. It feels good to know who made your food or drink, where it comes from and how it was cared for.”
Who’s doing it: Lyles, London E1
Simon Parton, Compass Group UK & Ireland’s head of food and beverage innovation, says: “Authenticity is a delicate balance. At the very top level, it means total authenticity of the recipe and the ingredients. This is expensive, so to most of us authenticity means capturing the essence of the cuisine, the flavours, the key ingredients, the colours and smells; not breaking the rules by using the wrong meat, for instance.”
Who’s doing it: Hill & Szrok, London E8
Meat-free dining has become a lifestyle choice for today’s health-conscious and environmentally aware consumers and it’s one that they’re choosing to dip in and out of.
“Veg-centric cooking is a trend that’s been bubbling away for a while,” says Nick Vadis, culinary director at Compass Group UK & Ireland. “That’s why we’ve developed our new vegetarian Root Kitchen concept for the business. But the people asking for it are not necessarily vegetarian.”
Vadis describes this group as ‘flexitarian’, while the Food People refers to them as ‘reducetarians’.
“This isn’t about being perfect, it’s about moderation of our carnivorous side,” says Banks. “Reducing any processes that harm the planet and finding cleaner ways to live and eat is better for our bodies and better for the world.”
Who’s doing it: Root, Bristol
Waste not, want not
The arguments for reducing waste are so compelling, for both the planet (less waste to landfill; conservation of natural resources) and hospitality operators (reduced costs), that the real question should be why not?
So it’s little wonder that food businesses are becoming increasingly innovative when it comes to lowering the levels of waste they produce.
“Restaurants are promoting themselves as having ‘no food waste’, using not only nose-to-tail but also root-to-tip [of fruit and vegetable]. Never before has so much of every plant and animal been used,” says Banks.
“There are a few operators that are responding to the desire from consumers to live within a sustainable food ecosystem. And it is extremely difficult to do if it is done properly. To quote Doug McMaster from Silo: ‘I don’t have a bin in my kitchen.’ Just think about that for a moment. Nothing is thrown away – no food, no packaging, nothing. That would completely change how a kitchen operates. He admits it’s very difficult, but it does mean you get very creative.”
Who’s doing it: Silo, Brighton
We can kiss goodbye to ‘plastic white bread’, says the Food People, as the craft of bread baking returns and a trend for artisan, flavoured and luxury loaves emerges.
Of course, craft carbs go well beyond bread, as Banks explains: “Forget about cheap and cheerful, carbs have taken on a luxurious edge, elevating their position from midweek staple to fine dining. Fresh, authentic pasta made with finely milled ancient grains, or bright, vibrant tagliatelle coloured with vegetables.”
Who’s doing it: Trullo, London N1
Food by occasion…
… rather than food by type because, says Bargh: “Consumers are choosing to eat according to their mood, rather than the nationality of the food.”
This means, for example, that diners are looking for dishes that can provide a kick-start to their day, rather than food that is typically associated with breakfast. Banks says this is a trend that is particularly prevalent in the health space, but from an operator’s perspective, it’s not necessarily an easy appetite to satisfy: “The challenge is getting consumers to understand and articulate what they want at a more functional level.”
Who’s doing it: Detox Kitchen, London (various locations)
Food on the go
The grab-and-go food trend is expected to evolve in 2018 and it’s an opportunity not to be missed by hospitality businesses. The market was valued at £20.1b in 2016, with robust consumer demand for quick and quality food leading to substantial growth and no signs of it slowing down.
“On-the-go is the buzzword driving this trend,” says Parton. “We are all busy people – the average lunch in the UK is only 34 minutes – so we insist on eating on the go. Research we conducted found the sandwich has remained the favoured lunchtime choice, chosen by 63% of the UK workforce. We’ve done a massive amount of work to make sure we’re leading the way in delicious and convenient food. ‘On the go’ must not mean we compromise on quality and enjoyment.”
Who’s doing it: Pret a Manger/Leon, various locations
Whilst I agreed with some of the findings I was not overly surprises. The UK is becoming one big cultural melting pot, but you would think the only place this is happening is London.
regarding quality and Pret, I wrote about the packaging issue in Pret. Kind regards.