We’re constantly hearing about the ever-changing trends and flavours in the world of food, and sometimes it can be hard to keep up. Independent foodservice operators rely on up-to-date ‘intel’ to inform them of what’s hot and what’s not so that they can keep their menus fresh and compete with the High Street giants. As 2018 draws to a close, we take a look at the food trends that will be influencing foodservice menus in 2019 and beyond.

Merging and emerging trends

Foreign travel has broadened consumers’ horizons and influenced creative chefs to merge different cuisines. Sarah Moor, brand manager for Lion Sauces, comments:

“The UK palate has diversified like never before thanks to globally-inspired trends driving a desire to try something new. Menus are more international than ever as diners want to be in control of what they eat and when. Food has become an integral part of how we express our identity.”

According to MCA, 92% of industry leaders believe global cuisines will grow the fastest of the next 3-5 years. Emerging hotspots include Middle Eastern, Korean and Japanese, West African, Venezuelan and Peruvian, and Portuguese.

Lion Sauces has published an insight paper, Flavour Forecast: Going Global, which is available to download at lionsauces.co.uk

Big in Japan

Japanese cuisine has moved on from sushi and got ‘dirty’ with the advent of Japanese ‘Dude Food’, which has been a major trend in 2018 and set for even bigger things in 2019. Inspired by Japanese Izakaya bar culture, where small plates of food (often fried) are served up with alcohol, Japanese comfort food has found a home in the UK. Umami-rich sauces accompany deep-fried chicken and squid, noodle dishes become more indulgent, and meaty yakitori skewers are becoming more popular. Street food is a major influencer, with Japanese favourites such as takoyaki (squid balls) appearing in mainstream restaurant Wagamama. Okonomiyaki (savoury pancakes), another street food, have been popping up in various guises.

An African adventure

West African food is being mooted as the next big thing thanks to a groundswell of interest in the largely unexplored cuisine of countries such as Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal (Mintel ‘UK Foodservice Trends Make Their Way to Retail Shelves’ report, May 2018). Ikoyi, the UK’s first Nigerian fine dining restaurant, opened in 2017 to critical acclaim and won the Newcomer of the Year Award at the London Restaurant Festival Awards. In the street food/fast casual sector, I Go Chop in London serves the Oga Burrito, a Nigerian/Mexican mash up of jollof rice, beans, meat and plantains wrapped in a tortilla.

African cuisine is even influencing pizza toppings. Richard Cooper, senior brand manager, Dr Oetker Professional, advises:  “An emerging trend for 2018 that we are expecting to see more of in 2019 is the use of African flavours and ingredients on menus. Minced Berbere spiced lamb with pomegranate seeds and Tahini paste adds an excellent flavour profile to pizza toppings, especially when drizzled with yoghurt and finished with a garnish of mint.”

Go South

The cuisines of Argentina, Brazil and Peru are firmly under the culinary spotlight right now. Ben Bartlett, celebrity chef and brand ambassador for Lion sauces, explains: “Lovers of South American cuisine are now seeking out the dishes inspired by individual countries, especially Argentina, Peru and Brazil – so expect menus to reflect the best-travelled foods of these nations.”

Tastes to try…

Empanadas stuffed with meat or fish, spiced with habanero hot sauce and served hot or cold
Peruvian ceviche, seafood in lime juice and adobo hot sauce, served with sweet potato and corn
Brazilian feijoada, a stew with black beans, bacon, pork and chorizo, served with tortillas and chipotle mayonnaise

Vibrant Vietnam

Vietnamese cuisine has seen a dramatic increase in consumer interest which will almost certainly continue to grow in 2019.

“The cuisine offers a refreshing new take on several ingredients including the main proteins such as pork and chicken as well as the base ingredients such as noodles and of course, rice,” says Alison Smith, product developer for Mars Food Europe.

In order to truly recreate these global food dishes with an authentic taste and appearance, the type of rice used is very important. Alison recommends Uncle Ben’s Basmati rice for dishes such as ‘Seared Fish and Coconut Rice’ and ‘Vietnamese Veggie Take-Out Hot Pots’ as the Basmati rice will provide an earthy, fresh taste to complement the succulent fish and wholesome veg whilst the soft texture will contrast the crispy skins of the butternut squash, crunchy green beans and fried spring onions.

In a pickle

Gut-friendly fermenting and pickling are key techniques being employed in foodservice, as Scandinavian influences capture the imagination of chefs. Health chain Leon worked with gut health specialist Dr Megan Rossi to launch gut-friendly kefir smoothies and kombucha, and now they have a ‘Good for your gut’ menu including salads, hotboxes and porridge.

Closer to home

Closer to home When thinking about which global cuisines to try on your menus, it can pay to look at places a little closer to home.Fergus Martin, executive development chef for Major International, comments:

“2018 has seen a rise in the popularity of smoky flavours and with its tendency to use smoked meats, Eastern European food taps into this trend whilst also fitting under the umbrella of international cuisine. Something like Polish Bigos Stew is perfect for this time of year and combines smoky sausages with seasonal ingredients like cabbage to create a heart warming addition to your winter specials board. You could also add an extra depth of flavour with the Major Hickory & Applewood Smoke.

Marie Medhurst, sales director at Bannisters Yorkshire Family Farm, adds: “In 2019, while many people are choosing holidays in the UK, expect gastro adventures to plot a course back home as we start to rediscover British classics. Think cauliflower cheese with leek and bacon; broccoli in Stilton sauce; sliced roast beef with gravy; roast chicken with stuffing; or the Birmingham-born Balti. And what better way to serve these traditional favourites than with the original British street food – hot, baked potatoes?”

Push plant power

Plant-based menu innovation is massively disrupting the world of foodservice, and with consumers reducing meat intake for health and ethical reasons, this is a trend that will continue to grow, says Ayisha Koyenikan, global food and drink analyst for Mintel. “Many new high-end openings are positioning plants centre of plate,” she explains. “Interesting vegan street food vendors show that taste and indulgence are as important as health, including Club Mexicana serving up tofu fish tacos and BBQ jackfruit burritos, Young Vegans with their pie and mash, and the Temple of Seitan with tasty treats such as chicken wings made from a wheat-based meat substitute. Plant-based Indian street food is also shaking up the scene.”