Meat supplier Danish Crown has revealed its operators guide to the 2018 food trends, including information from trend reports by Mintel, Whole Foods, Waitrose, NatVen and Supermarket News.
The guide includes deeper exploration of global cuisines to fusing micro trends from the past couple of years.
1. Meal number four
The traditional routine of three standard meals has been well and truly thrown out and evolved for consumers’ hectic lifestyles so more and more are opting to eat a fourth meal throughout the day.
For some, this is a pre-gym snack to provide a boost of energy or for others it comes in the form of a late snack before bed if meal times have fallen particularly early throughout the day.
It is not necessarily a trend that points towards a greedier nation but more an adaptation to suit progressing lifestyles.
2. Taco takeover
The taco trend is not a new one for 2018 but it is definitely one that is growing and fast. Last year, Latin American street food took hold of the nation but the next 12 months are well advanced from their predecessors.
Tacos for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. Tacos will also lose their traditional corn shells and be replaced by all kinds of wrappers, perhaps most notably seaweed nori shells.
Fillings are also no stranger to change from Hawaiian poke-style fillings to sweet treats. Classic tacos will always have a place in the nation’s heart and on authentic menus but they will need to make some room for their experimental counterparts. Products that lend themselves well to a taco menu are those with a higher fat content.
3. Meet the Middle East
Having embraced Middle Eastern influences in food for many years, it seems consumers are ready to delve deeper into the cuisine for 2018.
Hummus, pita bread and falafel are welcome staples in Middle Eastern diets but during the next 12 months, diners will be burrowing much deeper into the cuisine’s roots.
Exploring classic ingredients and regional nuances of places like Israel, Lebanon, Morocco, Iran and Syria, the next year will see far more Middle Eastern influences on menus.
Expect to see more aubergines, pomegranates, dried fruits and jams, and spices such as za’atar and cardamom across menus.
4. Room for mushrooms
This year will see a rise in mushrooms of a functional variety. Fungi such as chaga and reishi that can often be found in wellness products, will be starting to pop up in hot beverages such as coffees and teas, in place of herbal remedies.
The evolution of product labelling over the past five years has really placed a focus on transparency for consumers and this is not something that will be slowing for 2018.
Menus listing information as detailed as the name of the farmer who reared and slaughtered the animal next to the dish description is already taking place across pubs and restaurants nationwide.
Consumers are showing interest in genetically modified transparency, first and foremost, and they are also demanding transparency on matters such as responsible production, fair trade certification and animal welfare standards.
6. Japanese food
It seems consumers have got bored of the Japanese staples that they have been enjoying over the past couple of years such as miso and noodle soup.
Instead, their appetites have grown for something a little more hearty. Japanese ‘dude food’ is the amalgamation of the rich, surprising flavours of late-night Tokyo eateries and the indulgent, gutsy cuisine from the southern US states.
Eyes should be kept peeled for a boom in hearty sharing dishes native to the country’s Izakaya bars, laden with yakitori chicken and deep-fried tofu.
7. Hispanic cheese
Over the past four years, Hispanic-style cheese has had a place on chefs' menus. From the salty, crumbling firm cheese like Cotija, to the creamy, melty Queso Quesadilla cheese, the market has seen an increased spend across the board.
8. Indian street food
The UK’s love affair with Indian food is decades old but new wave Indian restaurants are paving the way for new flavour discoveries.
The Indian food trend has largely been about regional flavours and dishes in the past year but for 2018 it is more focused on smoked, grilled or seared specialities, all over heavy, rich sauces.
This trend also lends itself well to some of the other emerging trends for 2018 – spiced lamb Indian-style tacos have been spotted on menus and will be a big hit.
Look out for shellfish with pickled ginger and spices, and vegetable puris with a zing. This is a trend that also lends itself well to beef cuts and bone marrow.
After the pumpkin spice craze took hold of the nation (which shows no sign of slowing), it is no surprise that something equally as sweet and seasonal would step into the limelight.
Make room for maple. It certainly isn’t a new or unfamiliar flavour but now popularity for products such as maple water and maple-flavoured nut butters.
Maple water is the by-product of the process of making maple syrup, which can be up to 97% of the yield of the maple harvest.
A trend that hits home with the Millennials and Generation Z customers is the authentic Asian dumplings.
A well-loved favourite with the customers who are rapidly spending more and more in the foodservice sector, the dumpling trend is a great opportunity for quick-service restaurant operators.
There’s also room to get experimental with a variety of filling that don’t stop at an Asian flavour profile and these are a popular snack, both meat filled and vegetarian.