We know how it goes. Another year, another barrage of food trends to get to grips with. Kimchi this, jackfruit that… it can be hard to process when you’ve only just caught up with last year’s menu must-haves.
Staying ahead of the curve is important in the world of food and drinks. The general public is more health-conscious and adventurous than ever before, and not being aware of your customer’s palettes can leave you falling behind your rivals. Let’s face it — no-one wants to eat boiled tripe and mashed swede in 2019.
Here are some insider predictions on the trends that are gaining momentum and set to take the industry by storm.
1) Local produce
With concerns about the long-term sustainability of global food imports, the UK culinary scene will increasingly put local produce at the front and centre of the dining experience. London hotspots such as Hawksmoor and The Modern Pantry already use as many locally-grown products as possible, setting important examples for the food industry.
Using produce grown by local suppliers not only puts money into the local economy and helps support local firms, but also expands food options and encourages customers to eat fresher, healthier food — promoting a positive brand image for a restaurant or business at the same time. Buying local also helps the planet by cutting down on food miles — reducing the distance that the food travels from farm to fork.
Supermarkets are also starting to follow suit. Although retailers have argued that they already do plenty to highlight the local produce they have in stock, the Scottish Conservatives recently proposed that supermarkets should have aisles dedicated solely to local produce. Although these proposals are some way off being realised, expect to see the number of sustainably-sourced food options increase in the coming months.
2) Tech for chefs
Working in a restaurant can present a number of challenges — from keeping tabs on stock to the pressures of time management. If you’re a chef seeking a competitive edge, having some tech apps and appliances in your pantry can help drastically improve the efficiency of your kitchen
The Salter Cook Kitchen Scale and Thermometer, for example, connects to an app on your smartphone or tablet that lets you store your own personal cookbook. Recipes on the app are transformed into digestible interactive recipes with weights, time and portions that you can customise — giving you complete control over the process.
Amazon Echo may not sound like an obvious kitchen companion, but being able to shout hands-free questions at this “home assistant” will save you valuable seconds in the heat of the moment. Better still, it can also provide musical accompaniment to your chopping, grilling and sautéeing. And we like the sound of that.
3) Fermented food
When the chips are down, it’s best to go on your gut instinct. We’re not kidding, either. Having a healthy gut is scientifically proven to be essential to optimal overall health, which is why gut-friendly fermented foods are set to be stars of the culinary scene in 2019.
The good bacteria in fermented foods such as yoghurt and kimchi help improve digestion, boost immunity and help us maintain a healthy weight. Likewise, dishes featuring sauerkraut, kefir, tempeh, and miso — among a host of others — are becoming increasingly popular among millennials.
40% of people have at least one digestive symptom at any given time, so it’s hardly a surprise to see such high demand for fermented foods. By incorporating these ingredients into your menu, you’ll be keeping your customers healthy as well as being bang on trend.
4) Meat trends
Many of us love a thick, juicy burger, but the standard quarter pounder simply doesn’t cut the mustard anymore.
Some chefs are going as far as serving up ostrich burgers and kangaroo fillet steak, while others are embracing rare cuts like Belgian blue and wagyu. For the ever-expanding palettes of British diners, restaurants are having to up their game. The rise of flexitarianism is also making more chefs consider the ethical impact of the meat options on their menu.
For the adventurous carnivore, insect-based snacking is seen as a plausible answer to the problem. Supply is hardly an issue (there are an estimated 10 quintillion insects in the world) and these crunchy critters have been lauded as a delicious alternative source of protein. If the thought of eating arthropods doesn’t bug you, you can now try edible insects at excellent London-based eateries such as Archipelago, Ella Canta and Native.
Taking into consideration the financial and environmental effects of raising animals for meat, expect to see retailers, chefs and restaurant chains take this option more seriously in the near future.
With their many health benefits — from offering a welcome dose of antioxidants and vitamins to helping to regulate blood pressure — superfoods are the rockstars of the Instagram and Pinterest foodie scene. With the recent buzz around superfoods, there’s a good chance you’re going to hear a lot more about them this year (and not just from this article, either). But what are they, exactly?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a superfood as a “nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.” This means that basically any food which is celebrated for its immediate health benefits can be labelled a superfood (though some still question the true value of the word). From goji berries to leafy greens and everywhere in between, superfoods have become the snack of choice for health-conscious people on the go.
6) Food with less sugar
Since the government introduced the sugar tax on soft drinks to help encourage healthier buying options from food consumers, sugar-free options have exploded across supermarket shelves to satisfy the sweet tooth of customers.
Because record levels of people with conditions such as diabetes have caused the public to rethink its sugar consumption, meeting the consumer demand for food with less sugar has become more of a priority for retailers.
Restaurant fridges are likely to be stocked up with healthier alternatives too. From kombucha lemonade to protein-packed edamame, we’re going to see a lot of new recipes on restaurant menus. As for desserts, healthier ingredients with natural sugar like Greek yoghurt, melon and strawberries are taking over from refined sugars. Peanut butter or tahini ice cream, anyone?
Dry January may be over, but trends show that consumers are happy to cut down the booze on a long-term basis. An October 2018 study found that more than 25% of young people do not consider themselves drinkers — an increase of over 10% since 2005 — meaning there’s a growing demand for alcohol-free products.
Unsurprisingly, these new trends have upset the apple cart of the alcohol industry. Sales of alcohol-free beers have skyrocketed in 2018, up 27% from the previous year. Meanwhile, profits have slipped for traditional brewing giants such as Molson Coors Brewing Company UK, whose brands include Carling, Coors Light and Doom Bar.
New sobriety-focused brands have even sprung up in recent years, such as Seedlip, which sells three different versions (Spice 94, Garden 108 and Grove 42) of distilled sugar and additive-free non-alcoholic gin. Delicious, and not a hangover in sight.
8) Zero food waste
ReFood's Vision 2020 campaign, which aims to achieve zero food waste to landfill by next year, is at the centre of a cultural shift in the way we see our food. Gone are the days of mindless food disposal. Instead, growers, distributors, and retailers are making a clear commitment to making sure food literally doesn’t go to waste.
With less than a year until the big date, the idea of eradicating food waste is poised to become much more than just a talking point throughout 2019. Major UK companies such as M&S, Ocado and The Co-operative Group have already made clear commitments to significantly reduce their own food waste, as have restaurant chains like Nando’s and Pizza Hut. But why the urgency?
50% of all food that is produced in the world never gets eaten. In the UK alone, almost 15 million tonnes of food waste is produced every year. When you consider crises like climate change and hunger in the developing world, it becomes obvious that something needs to be done, and fast.
Chefs and catering staff can help the government achieve this target. By taking simple steps such as taking regular inventory, buying less than you need, storing food properly and recycling your leftovers, kitchens up and down the country can vastly contribute to the greater good. Food prep, but without the rubbish.
9) New kitchen products
As far as trend predictions go, this one is a little easier to gauge. The modern kitchen is a place of ongoing discovery and innovation, and a range of new kitchen products can help you and your team forge a reputation as connoisseurs of creative cuisine in 2019.
Having blunt knives in your kitchen is a big no-no for chefs and kitchen assistants, and the latest chef’s knives are a fast, efficient way to ensure your equipment is a cut above the rest. (For a classic, affordable option, we recommend the Robert Welch Signature Cook's Knife).
Many other sought-after new kitchen products echo the widespread industry trend towards healthier food. Items such as soup makers, spiralisers, air fryers, food processors, juicers and blenders are increasingly part of a cutting-edge chef’s canon.
Any kitchen that wants to uphold quality cooking without compromising on speed should look to add these useful tools.
10) Sustainable agriculture
Sustainable agriculture’s goal is to meet society’s immediate food needs but without making it harder for future generations to do so. If this sounds like an ambitious plan, that’s because it is. Sustainable agriculture requires every person involved in the food system — from the people who grow produce to the kitchen staff who put it on customers’ plate — to play a part by thinking about the overall impact of the job they are doing.
The world is changing, and some would argue that it’s changing too fast. Ecologically, this is definitely the case, and climate change experts predict that by 2050 crop yields in developing countries could fall by as much as 2.9 per cent. As such, the need to develop sustainable agriculture is a major issue for governments around the world.
Fresh from the success of Veganuary, the rapid rise of veganism is tipped to turbocharge throughout 2019. Just recently, the much-publicised launch of Greggs’ vegan sausage roll put plant-based diets at the centre of public attention, sending Piers Morgan into a Twitter meltdown. Unfortunately for Piers, veganism is far from a flash in the pan. It’s in the mainstream, and it’s here to stay.
Current estimates put vegans at 3.5% of the population — a figure that will rise as retailers and restaurants continue to expand their meat- and dairy-free options. As customers become more aware of their diet’s environmental impact and more attuned to health concerns related to the consumption of too much meat and dairy, the sale of vegan products looks set to soar.
Seitan (a meat substitute made from wheat gluten) and haem (a protein that allows veggie burgers to “bleed”) have become staples of the vegan cookbook. Faux meat snacks that taste like meat will also become a regular fixture on supermarket shelves and gastropub snack boards, as will milk-free products such as oat milk and nut butter. And what kitchen is complete without jackfruit: the versatile, punchy centrepiece of many a vegan recipe.
For people living with coeliac disease, the experience of dining or drinking out can be accompanied by FOMO, or the Fear Of Missing Out.
Although many restaurants have long offered a range of allergy-friendly, gluten-free options on their menus, the experience can be extremely stressful and disappointing for diners who are not catered for.
This is set to change in 2019, with gluten sensitivity being taken far more seriously by the culinary world. There’s also room for some myth-busting around gluten-free diets: far from being a choice, exposure to gluten can cause severe symptoms for someone with coeliac disease and debilitate them for days on end.
That’s why you can expect supermarkets, restaurants, and food market stalls to start serving more gluten-free products this year.
The culinary universe is expanding at a rapid pace. For those working in the industry, being adaptable to these changes will prove fruitful — especially as increasingly experimental consumer tastes and buying habits provide kitchen staff and restaurant professionals with an infinite number of opportunities to get creative.
As the year unfolds, we’re going to be exploring these trends in-depth to see just how much they’ll impact our industry. For more on the world of food, hospitality and catering in 2019, stay tuned to the weekly Blue Arrow catering blog, follow us on social, or sign up to our newsletter below.