Looking into the crystal bowl – Foodservice trends for 2018

As we enter the dawn of a New Year (and recover from a busy end to 2017), we take a look at the trends that will be influencing the foodservice industry in the 12 months ahead. Here, four key players share their predictions…

Simon Stenning, executive director. MCA MCA analyse all trends, covering lifestyle, cuisines and foods, and we place all examples onto a bell curve to determine whether they are Warm, Hot, Emerging, Established or Mega. For 2018, we have mapped the following food trends and believe that they could well embed themselves and become more prevalent, which more operators should take notice of:

  • Warm – Poke, the Hawaiian dish of sushi served on a bed of rice, which is grabbing the attention of many younger consumers delivering an interesting new experience but meets all-round needs
  • Hot – Seaweed, a highly nutritious, easily sourced, healthy and sustainable ingredient which is making it’s way into many menu items. Used in sushi and other Japanese dishes such as Ramen, but can translate into other dishes in the same way that Samphire has
  • Emerging – Asian soups, such as Laksa, following on from the acceptance of Japanese Ramen, and Vietnamese Pho, we are now seeing versions such as Malaysian Laksa grow in awareness
  • Established – Global spices such as Harissa, Cumin, Turmeric and Coriander, starting to appear in more mainstream locations, such as the Persian Burger with harissa sauce at Gourmet Burger Kitchen
  • Mega – We track eight different mega trends, however the one which is really critical for 2018 is the continued importance of Healthier Eating, as this is one trend that won’t go away – as long as it still delivers a great food experience, as consumers don’t want to suffer in their desire to eat more healthily

Peter Backman, foodservice consultant There are quite a few issues that will affect the industry in 2018 that we need to get to grips with. The market is now turning down for the hospitality sector, not with a vengeance but enough to make it quite tricky, and there will be a period of decline caused by consumer confidence and Brexit. In terms of staff availability, people are staying shorter in their jobs and moving on, partly because a number of them are immigrants and it no longer makes sense to work in this country, so there will be ongoing costs of staff recruitment. Schools, care homes and hospitals will continue to suffer increasing prices and staff availability, and they are also being squeezed by the government. There will be growing demand for school places and care too. However, there are some good signs for independents. If you are clued up you should be able to work your way through this. As is always the case in foodservice during a recession, the people at the edges who run their businesses well and control their costs will triumph. By being flexible the smaller players will have a big advantage over the chains. Restaurant delivery – from the likes of Deliveroo and Just Eat – is a rapid growth market which will continue through the next year but there will be limits to that growth.

Jenny Zegler, global food and drink analyst at Mintel In 2018, expect to see transparency and traceability for all, regardless of their income. From ingredient scares to political bombshells, self-care has become a priority for many and one that includes choosing food and drink that will address perceived nutritional, physical, and emotional needs. Opportunities also will be plentiful for natural, tantalising, and unexpected textures from chewy beverages to cookies with popping candy inside.

  • Full disclosure – In our new post-truth reality, consumers require complete and total transparency from food and drink companies. The need for reassurance about the safety and trustworthiness of food and drink has led to increased use of natural as well as ethical and environmental claims in global food and drink launches.
  • Self-fulfilling practices – As more consumers find modern life to be hectic and stressful, flexible and balanced diets will become integral elements of self-care routines. Many people who feel overwhelmed are focusing on ‘self-care,’ or prioritising time and efforts dedicated to themselves. Looking ahead, individual definitions of self-care and balance will reinforce the need for a variety of formats, formulations and portion sizes of food and drink that present consumers with positive solutions—and treats—that can be incorporated into their customised and flexible definitions of health and wellness.
  • New sensations – Texture is the latest tool to engage the senses and deliver share-worthy experiences. In 2018, the sound, feel, and satisfaction that texture provides will become more important for food and drink companies and consumers alike. The quest for experiences will provide opportunities for multisensory food and drink that uses unexpected texture to provide consumers, especially the teens and young adults of the iGeneration.

Morgaine Gaye, food futurologist 2018 will be the year of the chickpea, and beans and peas in general, but we’ll be seeing lots of different ways of using them from roasted, sprouted to used in drinks and desserts. Humans are very comfortable with hummus now and the plant-based, protein fad will continue into 2018. Socca, which is chickpea flour and a speciality of Nice, can be used to make delicious vegan pancakes and we’ll also be seeing things like chocolate covered chickpeas served as snacks. We’ll be seeing a lot more fermentation and kombucha this year, plus more raw food and more vegan. We’ll also be seeing a lot more options for fermented, non-alcoholic drinks. Ruby chocolate is a new variety of chocolate which will be big in 2018. It’s not milk or dark – it’s naturally pink and looks beautiful so we can expect that to be influencing a lot of desserts in the year ahead.

  • Black food – things like charcoal latte, black sesame and edible soil will be key menu trends.
  • Horchata de chufa – this sweet milk is the next big non-dairy milk and originates in Spain. It’s made from tiger nuts, which are actually a root and not a nut so it’s suitable for people with nut allergies. It’s nutty in flavour and we’ll be seeing things like Horcheta coffee.
  • Florals and natural botanicals will continue to influence menus. Look out for rose milk teas and lavender lemonade in the summer.
  • Mochi are a Japanese pudding staple and are set to take the UK by storm this year. They’re brightly-coloured rice balls filled with ice cream or bean paste. It’s all about texture – they have a chewy casing but are creamy on the inside.