What will 2018 bring for pub food?

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

Creepy crawly: the insect trend could be here to stay (image credit: Koldunova_Anna/iStock/Thinkstock.co.uk)
Creepy crawly: the insect trend could be here to stay (image credit: Koldunova_Anna/iStock/Thinkstock.co.uk)
Exciting new eating trends, from Hawaiian bowl food to insect protein, could be coming to the fore in 2018.

This was the year of the avocado boom and ‘fake news’ was added to the dictionary. But that was 2017 and next year looks set to be full of exciting new trends, with some familiar themes thrown into the mix too.

Food trends set to rock the culinary world over the next 12 months, according to research carried out by Waitrose’s Food and Drink Report 2017-18​, include Indian street food, but not the traditional takeaway style. No heavy sauces or chicken korma, it is all about smoked, grilled or seared dishes, such as scallops with pickled ginger.

Food trucks selling puris stuffed with vegetables and drizzled in chutney could set up shop across the nation. This cuisine also lends itself to hybrids, including spiced burgers or lamb keema tacos.

The supermarket giant wasn’t the only one to highlight Indian street food as a huge trend operators need to look out for, as CGA also echoed this.

Commercial director Graeme Loudon says: “We see Indian street food as a key trend within the market when consumers are looking to indulge and try something new.”

But this isn’t the only international trend Waitrose lays out, as it outlines that the indulgent end of the Japanese food spectrum is where operators should look.

Gutsy sharing dishes favoured in the country’s izakaya bars are set to become a big thing. Whether it is yakitori-skewered chicken or deep-fried tofu in broth, the trend will combine the hearty ‘dude food’ of southern US states with the unctuous, rich and surprising flavours of after-hours Tokyo.

From sharing dishes to extra dishes, the report found there is growing evidence that Brits are starting to squeeze a small, fourth meal into their daily routine.

A late-night snack before bed or a post-workout salad before dinner, this trend is expected to rise in the future.

Healthy eating is sticking around for the foreseeable and the demand for high-protein food continues with more consumers choosing a flexitarian diet.

Pulses, shoots, grains, seeds, soy and even algae are creeping onto menus and everyone, from small start-ups to big conglomerates, is jumping on the protein bandwagon.

Spark of inspiration

Food Spark, a newly launched digital service from the same stable as The Morning Advertiser​, has predicted which food categories are set to pick up steam in 2018.

The Hawaiian dish, poke, will be big next year thanks to the rising trend of bowl food. The raw fish dish can be served in a never-ending number of variations thanks to its versatility, where any fish fits. Best served with rice, or a rice alternative, and topped with fruit, pickles or sweet potato.

While Waitrose predicts food from across the subcontinent will be big, Food Spark has picked a trend from within Europe.

The pattern of Portuguese food began with custard tarts (pastel de nata), something that is rapidly expanding, fuelled by the increasing number of Brits visiting Portugal and Portuguese residents settling in the UK.

The food itself is hearty and can cross over with classic pub food, such as a pork and bean stew or a steak sandwich.

From meaty meals to other sources of protein, the insect trend is something that Food Spark reckons is here to stay this time around.

However, if this is something pubs are going to consider, they need to ensure insects are introduced to the menus as a normal addition.

So, instead of seeing the shape of a cricket, the food would be made from ground-up crickets. This means diners get the flavour and nutrition without sensationalism, making the cricket flour easier to introduce into regular food.

Provenance remains important

Georgian food is becoming increasingly popular in pubs, especially when it comes to pop-up bars in the capital and surrounding areas.

Similarly to Portuguese food, the dishes are different but not off-puttingly so, making them easily acceptable to British palates.

Although pop-ups are temporary, health-minded consumers are not going away any time soon.

Pubs already offer a multitude of superfoods, organic produce, reduced sugar and meat substitutes on top of a plethora of vegetarian and vegan choices. Now, they are offering new tastes and experiences by using foods high in protein, antioxidants and omega-3, according to market research company NPD Group.

Diners wanting to know where their food comes from is nothing new either, and this trend shows no sign of stopping.

UK NPD director of foodservice Cyril Lavenant says: “This potentially fits nicely into a pub’s food agenda, especially in rural locations where it is easier to build links with local producers and to promote meat, cheese, bread and vegetables that come from locations your customer base will know and trust.”

On a global scale, diners are wanting to know exactly what they are eating and are open to new textures and sensations.

Market research experts Mintel revealed that drinkers and diners want to know exactly what is in the products they are consuming in its Global Food and Drinks Trends 2018​ report.

The report also stated that businesses, including pubs, should look to include foods with additional textures to attract younger consumers.

In 2018, the sound, feel and satisfaction texture provides will become more important to companies and consumers.

Alongside this, technology will begin to disrupt the traditional food chain next year as enterprising manufacturers aim to replace farms and factories with laboratories.

Substitute products

An important development likely to capture consumers will be products that provide acceptable substitutions to their harvested counterparts, with a quarter of UK consumers agreeing that meat substitutes similar in taste, texture, and/or appearance to real meat appeal to them.

Technology could also eventually be used to design food and drink that is more nutritious, with the potential to extend the audience of scientifically engineered food and drink to include nutrition-conscious consumers.

So, although this year was full of ‘fake news’, there’s nothing bogus about the trends in food for the coming 12 months.         

Related topics: Food trends

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