11th January, 2018
Consumers are ultimately led by trends when it comes to their eating and dining habits. We know that it is important as operators to understand exactly what your customers want and what will excite them in the near future. That’s why we’ve put together this trend guide for 2018; so that you can stay one step ahead of the curve when it comes to building your New Years menu.
From deeper exploration of global cuisines, to fusing micro trends from the past couple of years, this guide gives an overview of the top ten food trends for 2018, sourced from trend reports by Waitrose, Whole Foods, Mintel, NatCen, and Supermarket News, as well as our recommendations on how you can best adapt them to suit your menus.
“WHETHER IT’S A HEALTHY SNACK OR AN INDULGENT TREAT, WE EXPECT TO SEE MORE OF THIS IN THE FUTURE” Waitrose
We tend to discover routines in our lives that work for us, and stick to them. But it seems that the traditional routine of three standard meals a day has evolved. To match our often hectic lifestyles, more and more people are opting to eat a fourth meal throughout the day. For some, this is a pre-gym snack to give them a boost of energy. For others, it comes in the form of a late snack before bed, if their meal times have fallen particularly early throughout the day. It’s not necessarily a trend that points toward a greedier nation, but more an adaptation to suit our progressing lifestyles. And it means you don’t have to feel guilty about that extra snack you had yesterday – it’s a no brainer!
“CONSUMERS ARE READY TO EXPLORE THE DEEP TRADITIONS, REGIONAL NUANCES AND CLASSIC INGREDIENTS OF MIDDLE EASTERN CULTURES” Wholefoods
Having embraced Middle Eastern influences in our food for many years, it seems we’re ready to delve deeper into the cuisine for 2018. Hummus, pita bread and falafel are welcome staples in our Middle Eastern diets, but during the next year we’ll be burrowing much deeper into the cuisine’s roots. Next year will explore the classic ingredients and regional nuances of places like Persia, Morocco, Israel, Lebanon and Syria. The success of restaurants like Comptoir Libanais have really paved the way for this trend, bringing traditional, often unfamiliar Middle Eastern dishes to the forefront of their menus. Expect to see more aubergines, pomegranates, dried fruits and jams, and spices such as za’atar and cardamom across menus. An innovative twist for gastro pubs would be a Middle Eastern roasted harissa chicken, served with peppers and feta. Perfect for an early Spring menu – tahini for all!
“TACOS ARE SHEDDING THEIR SHELL FOR NEW KINDS OF WRAPPERS AND FILLINGS” Wholefoods
The taco trend isn’t one that’s new for 2018, but it’s definitely one that’s growing rapidly. Last year saw the famed Latin American street food take hold of the nation, but next year’s tacos are well advanced from their predecessors. We’re talking breakfast tacos, lunch tacos, dinner tacos, and dessert tacos. We will also see tacos losing their traditional corn shells and being replaced by all kinds of wrappers, perhaps most notably seaweed nori shells. Fillings are also no stranger to change, from poke-style fillings to sweet treats. Classic tacos will always have a place in the nation’s heart and on authentic menus, but they’ll need to make some room for their experimental counterparts. Products that lend themselves well to a taco menu are those with a higher fat content, so we would recommend using pork belly, Boston Butts for pulled pork, or beef brisket. All hail the taco!
“SHOPPERS ARE BUZZING ABOUT FUNCTIONAL MUSHROOMS” Wholefoods
Mushrooms of all shapes and sizes can already be found in the fruit and veg aisle, but 2018 will see a rise in mushrooms of a functional variety. Fungi such as chaga and reishi, that can often be found in wellness products, will be starting to pop up in hot beverages such as coffees and teas, in place of herbal remedies. You will also find mushrooms in less likely products, like your hand and body soaps!
“CONSUMERS WANT TO KNOW THE REAL STORY BEHIND THEIR FOOD” Wholefoods
The evolution of product labeling over the past 5 years has really placed a focus on transparency for consumers, and this is not something that will be slowing for 2018. We’ve seen menus listing information as detailed as the name of the farmer who reared and slaughtered the animal next to the dish description. Consumers are showing interest in GMO transparency, first and foremost, which will be listed on labels of all food items in stores from September 2018. Consumers are also demanding transparency on matters such as responsible production, Fair Trade certification and animal welfare standards. We’ve recognised the importance of this for years, which is why we guarantee full traceability from farm to fork.
“GUTSY SHARING DISHES FAVOURED IN THE COUNTRY’S IZAKAYA BARS ARE SET TO BECOME A BIG THING” Waitrose
It seems that as a nation, we’ve grown bored of the Japanese staples that we’ve been enjoying for the past couple of years, such as miso and noodle soup. Instead, our appetites have grown for something a little more hearty. Japanese ‘dude food’ is the amalgamation of the rich, surprising flavours of late night Tokyo eateries, and the indulgent, gutsy cuisine from the southern US states. Keep your eyes peeled for a boom in hearty sharing dishes native to the country’s Izakaya bars, laden with yakitori chicken and deep fried tofu. Our recommendation for an adaptation on this trend would be glazed pork cheek or belly skewers, finished on a Robata grill. Or alternatively, try slivers of rare skirt steak brushed with textured miso, for the perfect marriage of smoky and savoury. Who doesn’t love a meal you can truly gorge on?
“HISPANIC CHEESE CLIMBS THE CHARTS” Supermarket News
Over the past four years, Hispanic-style cheese has had a place on chefs’ menus. From the salty, crumbling firm cheeses like Cotija, to the creamy, melty Queso Quesadilla cheese that you’ve most likely come across in just about any Mexican eatery you’ve ever stepped inside, the market has seen an increased spend across the board. Interestingly, roughly a third of these Hispanic-style cheeses are now produced in Wisconsin, where cheesemakers are maximising on the growing trend.
“THE CUISINE LENDS ITSELF TO HYBRIDS – IT’S INDIAN FOOD LIKE YOU’VE NEVER SEEN IT” Waitrose
The UK’s love affair with Indian food is decades old, but new wave Indian restaurants are paving the way for new flavour discoveries. The Indian food trend has largely been about regional flavours and dishes in the past year, but for 2018 it’s more focused on smoked, grilled or seared specialties, all over heavy, rich sauces. This trend also lends itself well to some of the other emerging trends for 2018 – spiced lamb Indian-style tacos have been spotted on menus, and seem to be a big hit! Look out for shellfish with pickled ginger and spices, and vegetable puris with a zing! This is a trend that lends itself well to succulent beef cuts and bone marrow.
“MOVE OVER PUMPKIN SPICE” Supermarket News
After the pumpkin spice craze took hold of the nation (which shows no signs of slowing), it’s no surprise that something equally sweet and seasonal would step into the limelight. Make room for maple! Maple certainly isn’t a new or unfamiliar flavour, but we’re now starting to see popularity for products such as maple water and maple flavoured nut butters. Maple water is the byproduct of the process of making maple syrup, which can be up to 97% of the yield of the maple harvest. This maple water has been bottled with a slight carbonation, and is officially the only water that is certified organic by the USDA. And with the boom of breakfast foods over the past year, this trend couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time!
“DUMPLINGS DOMINATE” Supermarket News
A trend that hits home with the Millennials and Gen Z customers is the authentic Asian dumpling. A well loved favourite with the customers who are rapidly spending more and more in the foodservice sector, the dumpling trend is a great opportunity for QSR operators, deli counters and prepared food sections within retail. And there’s room to get experimental, with a variety of fillings that don’t stop at an Asian flavour profile. These are a popular snack, both meat filled and vegetarian.