The food and drink industry has been through a period of rapid proliferation and evolution over the last ten years. The global recession created instability and uncertainty which meant large manufacturers managed their risk through M&A tactics or a consolidation of their own affairs. This, in turn, brought about opportunities for smaller, more agile producers to setup shop and capitalise on, and even induce, new food trends. This meant that the rate in which trends came and went was hugely exaggerated; the next trend was just around the corner and so was the person to mop up the opportunity.
Since Brexit landed (or didn’t land or who knows what may or may not happen) the mood has changed. We are again in a period of genuine uncertainty and the producers that were thriving under those conditions now have to take stock. This is having an impact on consumer trends and we are now in a postmodern food world where the trend of yesterday has become a pastiche; we are savvier to marketing ploys than before. ‘Artisan’ is no longer a badge of quality but an undercover sales agent. This doesn’t mean that the market has stopped evolving, far from it. New entrants are finding more profitable ways to enter the market using initiatives such as ours, where they can rent a commercial kitchen space rather than investing heavily in capital at the early stages of business. Our kitchen facilities are now available in Shoreditch, Bermondsey, Bethnal Green and Vauxhall and have provided a number of innovative food businesses with the platform to launch in a tough economic climate. So if the evolution hasn’t stopped, what has it done? Well, put simply, it’s evolved…
Just think for a second: have you ever seen anyone on a faddy diet smiling in any way other than smugly? No? I thought not. Want to know why? It’s because they’re unhappy! Faddy dieting has been punitive and focussed on denying yourself certain foods or food groups but this cannot continue. We need to celebrate the good in food.
As a trend, health is going to be a key focus for many years to come but the way it’s consumed will change. Superfoods have fallen in and out of fashion but they are a great example of celebrating food benefits rather than criminalising food baddies. Watch out for a rise in the use of spices and citrus additions to improve food flavours and supporting the body to break down fats.
This food trend for 2018 is born out of the same postmodern frustrations as the new health direction. Our obsession with self-denial in the pursuit for a better body has left some food stuffs feeling unloved. Carbs have been the enemy for a long time but I was delighted to see some #bringbackbread tweets recently.
Although I do endorse the moderation messaging, carbohydrates, whether simple or complex, must form part of our repertoire. We have enough crap weather to deal with in the UK that we at least need proper food, we need comfort food and we need to love our food. So expect to see a move back to proper food in 2018 to fill our plates and social media feeds with pies, pastries, pasta dishes and amazing breads!
This trend isn’t going anywhere. We love to eat and explore new foods. We love to socialise. We love to be busy. So we will always love to eat on the hoof. The sight of a stationary trailer on the high street used to signal sweaty burgers, greasy walls and even greasier hair nets but now it carries a mark of intrigue and interest. If you’ve ever seen the Jon Favreau classic food film Chef then you’ll fully appreciate why street food is exciting.
So what will be the cuisine trends of 2018? Well, major global sporting events are usually a good barometer of which country’s food will come into fashion so I anticipate Russian food to rise to the top at least for the summer months. As well as that I expect to see a rise in home comforts hitting street food vans: grilled cheese, quality pies, fish and chips and maybe even a roast dinner or two on the go!
So there you have it: my proper food trends to watch out for in 2018. Any comments or questions save them for January 1st 2019!