9 food trends tipped to shape the catering industry in 2018

10:26 am

Buddha bowls, turmeric lattes, activated charcoal and sushi ‘burgers’ wedged between buns made of rice were amongst some of the food trends that piqued our interest throughout 2017.

Now it’s that time of year where everybody will be asking: what will be trending on our dinner tables and across social media throughout 2018?

Towards the end of last year, Nisbets predicted the 12 months that were to follow would see a greater focus on vegetarianism, table top technology, brunch, freakshakes and speakeasy bars - but what surprises lie in store for us over the coming 12 months? 

1. The only way is ethics

Food and beverage professionals are going to have to be increasingly skilful and almost holistic in  their approach towards adapting menus to align with the social values of the modern- day consumer. Research carried out by Innovate has indicated that consumers are more conscious than ever about food responsibility. Consumers want to know where their food comes from and how it is produced in line with their commitment to making ‘mindful choices’. Diners are also showing a preference for ethical food service brands considerate of the environment.  Expect to hear more about methods of reducing food and industry waste such as tip-to-tail eating and eco-friendly packaging.

2. Keep innovating for the meat free

The days when a vegetable lasagne or a stuffed pepper/mushroom would suffice as the scope of your vegetarian offering are dwindling. The National Health Service estimates that there are over 1.2 million people in the UK currently following a meat-free diet. A recent YouGov survey found that 25% of those asked claimed to have reduced the amount of meat they consume for a variety of different reasons. Chefs will need to continue to find appealing ways to offer vegetarians and ‘reducetarians’ meat-free ‘choices’ rather than ‘options’.     

3. Glorious colour and floral flavours

There is no substitute for colour if you want your food to go viral on Instagram and other influential social media platforms. Rainbow bagels and colourful ‘freakshakes’ were just two of the phenomena that reinforced the relationship between colourful food and shareable content this year. That partnership will continue to strengthen in 2018, but with more of a focus on adding a healthy twist. Not only will creations for social media need to be beautifully rich in colour, they will also need to taste good and pack nutritional value. Lavender lattes could possibly fit the bill. They would also satisfy the increase in demand industry experts are expecting to see in the use of fragrant flavours from edible flowers such as nasturtiums, pansies and marigolds.

Look at our most recent Pulse Survey to see what food trends Nisbets customers are predicting will be big in 2018 

4. More meals, smaller portions

‘Three square meals a day’ is a phrase that is beginning to symbolise the dining timetable of a bygone era. Consumers are showing a preference for eating less, but more frequently. We are all experiencing busier lifestyles and, as such, set meal times will continue to become less prevalent. Demand for grazing on smaller portions, healthy snacks, grab and go options and shared dining is expected to increase.

5. A taste of the ocean 

With almost 8,000 miles of coastline, Britain has never been short on supply of seaweed. The nutrient-dense vegetable has been a source of culinary enjoyment and nourishment in the fish-heavy Japanese diet for centuries. Yet despite an abundance of the stuff on these shores, it has never been particularly popular to consume other than in the form of a supplement. But with nutritional values well in excess of some of the more orthodox and recognised fruits and vegetables, ocean-dwelling seaweed, algae and plants such as spirulina and chlorella, are expected to be in your smoothies along with a host of other ‘superfoods’.

6.   Far Eastern grilling 

With over 16,000 sushi restaurants outside of the country, dining by conveyer belt has been one of Japan’s most successful exports. But it is the centuries old cuisine of the Izakaya bars that is about to interest the British palate. Bite-sized morsels of rice and fish will be replaced by bold and smoky grilled chicken or pork, soaked with the rich and traditional flavour of soy-based tare sauce. Accompanied by crispy dumplings or deep fried tofu, this is ‘pub grub’ Japanese style. Indian cuisine will continue to be a street food stall favourite. Heavy sauces and curries are set to be overtaken by lighter grilled and fried options such as panipuri, kati rolls, aloo tiki and lamb keema tacos.

7. Fermented foods 

As if to prove that what goes around tends to come around as far as trends are concerned, the ancient practice of fermenting foods is piquing the interest once again. The resurgence of fermented side dishes, condiments and beverages such as sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha is in keeping with the overall trend in increased awareness of nutrition and wellness. Classed as probiotics, fermented foods generally require little more than a preserve jar and some sugar or salt to make. The bacteria formed as part of the process is said to be great for digestive and gut health. 

8. Rum  

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association are forecasting that UK sales of rum are set to tip the £1billon mark for the first time. This big performer of 2017 will continue its renaissance into next year. Encouraging growth is believed to be driven by older drinkers, although a national love of cocktails and the re-emergence of tiki bars have also played a part. Expect to see focus increased on premiumisation and a greater choice of luxury rum as consumers show a willingness to pay more for better quality.

9. What your sommelier will be pouring  

With a market worth £17.3 billion to the UK economy and around 60% of British adults citing it as their favoured alcoholic drink, it would be remiss to ignore what products will be driving the wine industry next year. English sparkling wine has been a progressive mover over the last few years as consumers have started to make a conscious effort to eat and drink local. Sales of the product have doubled to well over £100 million since 2011 and its popularity is only likely to increase as a weaker pound continues to raise the price of imported prosecco, champagne and cava. Chardonnay, meanwhile, was the undisputed wine of the 1990s, but it soon became the symbol of globalisation and suffered a backlash. A steady increase in both price and demand suggests it is back in favour again. American Pinot Noir is also expected to do well next year. As for red, the dark concentrated flavour of Malbec is making a splash following an increase in sales of 28% during 2017. 


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