As we get into the swing of 2018, we and our sister site Flavour Feed have been reflecting on the year gone by and making predictions for the year ahead. As always with modern eating, we’ve seen a distinctive yin and yang to today’s trends. Wellness coexists with comfort food, classics with the cutting-edge, and more than ever before, our food preferences are a clear mark of personal choice. Whether eco-friendly, indulgent or restrained, shared with friends or savoured solo, food choices are now a mode of self-expression. We really are what we eat.
Here are some of the defining trends and innovations every industry insider needs to keep their eye on. Find the full list over at Flavour Feed.
Organic, natural and sustainable food is becoming an entry-level expectation for consumers of all generations. With consumers increasingly aware of their health and environment, manufacturers will need to be open about ingredients and supply chains in order to allay scepticism around the safety of products. We’re likely to see an increase in food labelling with natural, nutritious and eco-friendly claims in 2018.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
A third of the world’s food is being wasted, and with the problem reaching crisis point we’re set to see a mounting number of businesses trying to combat the problem and cash in on its marketing potential. Edible up-cycling firms such as ReGrained, Toast Ale, Bio-bean and ChickP are already leading the way in using food waste as a potential source of revenue. Plus, along with the release of David Attenborough’s Blue Planet, more attention is being paid to reducing our use of plastic. Just this morning, supermarket chain Iceland announced its plans to eliminate plastic packaging in all of its own-label products by 2023.
The entertainment industry is branching out from the big screen, and immersive-dining experiences are on the up. In the British capital, Londoners’ love of drama is being creatively combined with their passion for great food, with restaurants such as Dishoom, venues like the National Theatre and even productions like the musical Mamma Mia and seasonal pantomimes getting in on the act. Expect even more in 2018, with the film, theatre and gaming industries incorporating new kinds of immersive and experimental tech into their businesses, such as floating food.
Instagram is an industry influencer and an incredibly powerful business tool – it’s now not only about how good a dish tastes, but how well it will photograph. Although this trend won’t be going anywhere fast, we could see a rebellion against the culture of ‘Instagrammable’ cuisine that can cause some to forget what food is really all about. Far too often, we overlook the fact that the joy of good food comes from its taste – the celebration of beautiful, simple and well-balanced ingredients on a plate. In 2017, we noticed more chefs – such as queen of the kitchen, Nigella Lawson – challenging this Insta-centric approach, and we think others will follow suit.
A Feast for the Senses
That said, millennials are still hungry for alternative ways to experience their food. Products that appeal to multiple senses – offering sounds, sights and touch, as well as taste – are set to scale new heights. Food and drink producers are using natural ingredients – such as matcha, charcoal, pulp and turmeric – to create vibrantly coloured products, with an element of surprise, that attract the attention of social-media-savvy youngsters. Colour will continue to be key, but texture could be the next step for multisensory eating: look out for puffs, pops and bubbles.
Oppressive, high-end dining is increasingly out of fashion. Modern consumers favour informal fare over the buttoned-up style of yesteryear, and upmarket fast food and fine-casual dining are set to take its place. The popularity of pop-ups, tapas and small plates, and speedy dining is likely to continue, with even Michelin-starred restaurants pressurised to offer quicker, cheaper options. Eleven Madison Park and Momofuko in the States, and Duck & Waffle Local in Britain are some of the standout establishments already offering fine-casual options.
Flavour Feed is a dynamic subscription platform that brings you the latest food trends, news and updates in real time as part of a series of bespoke newsfeeds. Created by myself, innovation chef David Swann and retail-insight authority Richard Savage, and supported by a panel of experts including nutritionist Kiki Bosch, butcher James George (of Turner & George) and food historian Marc Meltonville, it’s used by restaurateurs, marketers and foodie entrepreneurs to stay on top of this notoriously fast-moving industry. You can sign up or learn more here.
Images courtesy of Emma Veares