Foodies are no longer the only people who care about how to make the most from every meal. There is a clear, continued push for innovative food ideas across global drink corporations, established restaurants and new food startups. Gregg’s vegan sausage roll got people talking and buying and Veggie Pret went from a one month pop up to four locations in less than 3 years. The market is calling, will you answer?

Health benefits, produce quality and sustainability are all important not only for food and drinks brands but their consumers. Here, we break down what we’ll be eating, why we’ll be eating it and how you can use that to make your business a plate-leader for consumers.

Food that does good

We care more about the food that we eat more than ever before with 73% of consumers saying they would change what they would consume based on environmental impact. This means that food and drinks brands need to care as well.

So, with words like organic, fairtrade and considerations from environmental stewardship to animal welfare orbiting eating habits, what are we seeing as the most important, and therefore valuable, food trends for do-gooders?

Low carbon footprint foods

Diet, sourcing and packaging are all ways in which consumers are looking to lower their carbon footprint. However, all of these choices are only possible when there are food and drinks brands who are willing to provide, with some being easier to access than others.

Going vegan or vegetarian, if you haven’t already

Veganism has been skyrocketing in popularity in the last five years. Yes, this is partially down to the idea of fad diets, but with younger generations of consumers coming into the market and becoming a valuable buying set, food brands can’t afford to ignore vegans. Offering alternatives to your most popular foods can be enough to attract new businesses and retain those customers looking to make the change in the new year.

One of the ways in which veganism is becoming more widespread is with like-for-like replacements to some of the most popular meats with vegan alternatives. For example, the Jackfruit has gone from unwanted in India to best of the best in vegan havens like London. With a texture likened to pulled pork, a staple of open air hipster markets, it has appealed to former meat eaters looking to make an ethical change.

Not everyone is convinced of making the change to veganism. Although food companies can make significant gains with vegan alternatives, vegetarianism continues to be a common middle ground for many consumers. The market for vegetarian foods has already been steady for many years and since it has more leniencies, has led to greater competition, for example, with vegetarian sausages.

The best vegetarian sausage has yet to be created; at least according to Good Housekeeping’s reviews of vegetarian sausages, which means it could be you that finally cracks the recipe. While there are more vegans than ever before, we are also seeing a push towards flexitarianism, where meat is sometimes consumed, along with vegetarianism. Meat free alternatives are in demand but aren’t yet fully catered for in a satisfying way.

There is a particular call for the familiar with meat free foods, consumers want the cruelty free benefits of vegetarian foods in recognisable forms. Burgers, sausages and mince are all key to classic dishes, particularly in British foods. Arguably, Quorn dominates this market, with Linda McCartney often being cited as the best vegan sausages, all of which has caused supermarkets to come up with their own vegan and ranges. It’s touch and go how long the vegan burger might last, however, with the EU hoping to ban certain terms to prevent confusion between meat and meat free dishes.

Looking for inspirational vegan recipes? We’ve delved into the how and why to offer vegan dishes to your customers, and the odd inspirational recipe too.

Motherless meat is (almost) here

Lab grown meat, also known as motherless meat, has been a source of fascination for the food industry for a little while now but has yet to hit the big time. 2019 could be the year, with India leading the way.

Motherless meat is created from animal cells, harmlessly extracted, and is therefore cruelty free. It doesn’t come with the environmental and ethical baggage of farming and so is seen by many of the future of meat eating. Getting onto this trend, while still in its infancy would definitely be profitable for food businesses. But watch out as, since this is such a new phenomenon, there has been speculative reporting about just how eco-friendly motherless meat is and whether the production methods are worse for the earth than traditional farming.

Going Plastic Free

The Blue Planet II effect has woken up the entire world to its need to reduce its waste, particularly plastic. From a government pledge to ban plastic straws, cotton-buds and drinks stirrers, to Glastonbury festival announcing that it won’t be selling single use plastic drinks bottles on site this year; plastic and waste in the food industry is a hot topic. If you look to reduce your plastic use in any way, tell your consumers. If it’s a promise that you feel a step too far, try it for a week, or month, or one day a week! Nobody wants to contribute further to the destruction of the planet and encouraging people to eat with you because of your goals with your environmental impact is a real way to lure in customers at the same time as genuinely doing good. You can learn more here.

Wellness ingredients

CBD oil is the new hemp tea

With the legalisation of marijuana in many US states, along with movement on the use of medical marijuana in the UK following some high profile cases, interest in “hemp” and cannabidiol (CBD) has skyrocketed. As a result, numerous businesses are looking to develop the ways in which they tap into the potential health benefits of these ingredients.

If you are considering tapping into this trend then you first need to understand the differences between cannabis, hemp and marijuana, which many use interchangeably and incorrectly. The main distinctions can be summarised as follows:

  • Cannabis is the name for a family of plants which has two primary classifications:
  • Indica and Sativa.
  • Marijuana can be considered a member of either the Indica or Sativa families
  • Hemp is only considered to be a member of the Sativa family

Like chamomile and other similar herbal teas, hemp tea is said to be good for reducing stress, anxiety, insomnia and helping with chronic pains. However, research has found more tangible benefits in hemp seeds, namely as a protein source, but also in helping to aid digestion. As with other popularised milk alternatives, Good Hemp milk is looking to become the new go-to for customers with an eye for non-cow milks.

CBD oil isn’t new, but it’s usage as an ingredient is becoming more commonplace. Unlike the more commonly smoked leaf form of marijuana, CBD oil is an extract that produces no psychoactive effects. This means that it can be added to food and drinks to pass on its benefits; pain relief, reduction of anxiety and alleviation of cancer treatment symptoms to name a few, more simply and in a flavourless way. There are all kinds of ways to incorporate CBD oil with a food or drinks brand, and now is the time to do it as global corporations, like Coca-Cola are taking notice.

Get your probiotics fix from fermented foods

Probiotics are most commonly linked with yoghurt, thanks to robust and continuous marketing from yoghurt and probiotic drinks brands like Yakult. But with the changes in how dairy is being consumed, and the environmental effects of the farming industry, consumers are looking to fermented foods for their doses of probiotics.

Fermented foods can be made from leftover vegetables, giving it an eco-friendly appeal, while offering the health benefits of probiotics. Since world cuisine is also at the forefront of trends, in particular from Asian regions following the popularisation of foods like sushi and ramen in recent years, the iconic fermented food kimchi is ideally placed to be included in new foods.

For those who aren’t in the know, probiotics are produced during the fermentation process and have been used to improve digestive health. In particular helping those with bloating, indigestion and constipation. It has even been linked to health benefits for your skin. Popular fermented foods include Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Miso and Tempeh. Add these to your list of ingredients to drive traffic for your gut conscious consumers

Fads and new favourites

Fads have most often in the recent (Western) memory been about making a food or drink “unicorn”, whatever that seems to mean… Though these have always been flash in the pan fads. More long lasting trends in food and drink have focused on finding that elusive treat or undiscovered edible treasure with staying power.

(Not so) Guilty pleasures

People want to have the foods they love, and they want them to be less “bad” for them. Once upon a time this meant choosing froyo over ice cream, but no longer. There are a whole host of almost as good as the original versions of consumer’s favourites that food brands should look at offering in 2019.

Can hummus be frozen? Yes, and made into ice-cream

Have you ever wondered “Can hummus be frozen?”. Well, someone has, or rather a few someones have. Classic hummus can be frozen for up to 4 months and used as a healthy snack with carrot sticks or pitta bread, but that is only the tip of the chickpea. Hummus ice cream is looking to take the vegan world by storm.

The healthier ice cream market has been quietly developing in the past few years, in part in answer to the rise of veganism, but also as a tie-in to the fitness focused. Halo Top is a high protein, low-carb ice cream, which was the most popular ice-cream in America in 2017, while vegan ice cream has appeared in dedicated brands like Booja-Booja and vegan versions of favourites from Ben and Jerry’s. Whether you have your own ice-cream twist or are looking to include an alternative in your dining, now is an ideal time to get involved.

Seasonal dieting for summer and sobriety

Trendy is always on trend, it’s about the new as much as it’s about what we should be eating, meaning these aren’t necessarily foods that will last in the long term. If you aren’t convinced that you want to convert your food business to target one of the above food trends then it’s likely your consumers aren’t either.

Instead you could consider adhering to the seasonal diets and offering options with your food and drinks to test the water of interest in your consumer base. Popular month long diet trends include Veganuary and Sober October, but you needn’t limit yourself to these two months as consumers are opportunists and could make a change at any time of the year.

Mocktails for kids? Non-alcoholic cocktails are for adults too.

As far back as 2016, sobriety was being reported as on the rise among young people. Mocktails for kids, as well as adults, is now a viable unique selling point for a brand. This trend isn’t about leaning into fancier juice combinations, or the ever growing number of alcohol free Pimms recipes out there, instead it’s about emulating the complex flavour profiles of cocktails, but as non-alcoholic mocktails. Well regarded restaurants like Duck & Waffle and global drinks brand Diageo are already on board with non-alcoholic spirits, suggesting that we can expect a surge in new varieties in 2019 and beyond. The market is wide open for a food and drinks company that can capitalise on cocktails without alcohol.

Supper clubs

2018 was a huge year for supper clubs in the UK, especially in London. Dining on fine cuisine with a small group, dinner party style but with strangers, seems set to continue in 2019 and beyond. Supper clubs have also taken on charitable twists and there is room for more ways in which these dining experiences can tap in the trends of the year.

With supper clubs, food businesses can cater to specific diets, like vegan or gluten-free, and introduce new people to new ways of dining. Aligning a brand with an eco-conscious or ethical initiative is a great way to create a buzz around a food and drinks company. Similarly, using food as a gateway to culture with a humanitarian angle, like the Syrian Supper Club which aims to raise money for syrian refugees with their evenings of culinary excellence.

The TL;DR for 2019 Food Trends

What 2019’s food trend and forecasts show us about the year ahead is that food and drinks companies need to be not only supplying options for those diners looking to make an eco-friendly, ethical choice in what they consume, but also to be advocates for it.

Veganism is on the rise and only going in one direction. Superfoods are getting harder to ethically source, due to increased demand causing environmental damage, just look at the effects of the demand for avocados. Even once reliable industries such as beer and spirit brands are seeing disruptors succeeding with alcohol-free alternatives.

The best thing a food and drinks brand can do in 2019 is to stay informed, capitalise on trends in moderation, and to expect that this could all change by the end of the year.

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