EHL Ingredients predicted consumers will continue to diversify their eating habits to suit modern lifestyles, diets and fitness, and healthy eating trends.
Alongside this, pomegranate molasses, harissa, sumac, edible flowers and Hawaiian flavours are also set to whet the appetite of UK consumers.
EHL Ingredients joint managing director Tasneem Backhouse outlined the food ingredient trends operators should look out for in the year ahead.
Consumers of all ages are becoming increasingly experimental with their food choices, with a surge in those following a vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian diet.
Veganism has attracted a new wave of fashionable, younger consumers adopting the animal-free diet, and research by the Vegan Society revealed that there are now about 542,000 vegans aged between 15 and 35.
In the UK, about 1% of Brits suffer from coeliac disease and about 12% of adults have chosen to follow a gluten-free diet.
To feed this demand, pubs, bars and other dining outlets are under pressure to bring high-quality, differentiated, gluten-free products to the table.
Backhouse said: “Consumers are looking for authentic flavours and textures in free-from foods and EHL’s new gluten-free range offers chefs quality, versatility, ingredients to create traditional favourites and innovate dishes for consumers to enjoy.”
Pomegranate molasses has appeared in celebrity cookbooks and it is set to be a cookery essential in 2018, according to EHL.
It makes a good replacement for balsamic vinegar or soy sauce, and makes a perfect meat marinade or glaze, as well as a syrupy addition to dips, sauces, soups and stews.
Spice blends and pastes such as harissa and sumac are the new condiments on the block. They can enhance hummus and dips, meat, fish and vegetable dishes, burgers and chicken wings, soups and stews.
Edible flowers make a perfect decoration for food photos for the Instagram generation and bring powerful flavours to dishes.
Eye-catching, colourful flower petals and buds including lavender, rose and violets, make a great addition to cakes, biscuits and bakery items as well as jams, jellies and vibrant salads.
Next healthy fast-food trend
Hawaiian food involved lots of fish and raw vegetables and poke bowls are expected to be the next healthy fast-food trend.
EHL said it was important for chefs to recreate authentic flavours with the right herb and spice blends, oils, sauces and seeds to give consumers a real flavour of Hawaii.
Backhouse said: “This year looks set to bring more exciting food trends as tastes and preferences develop. Social media influencers, bloggers, health and fitness enthusiasts, and celebrity chefs play a huge role in encouraging consumers to follow certain diets and food trends.
“The vegan and gluten-free markets are growing and they really present an opportunity for us, and for the food industry as a whole, so we are working hard to source and develop ingredients to ensure those adhering to these diets don’t have to compromise on flavour.
“We are always looking for the next big food trend and our new product development team is constantly working on sourcing new ingredients and developing new herb and spice blends to suit the ever-changing tastes and preferences of British consumers.
“Pub operators and chefs can capitalise on these emergent trends to ensure they are meeting demand and making products more readily available, increasing convenience and choice for consumers in 2018 and beyond.”