According to The Morning Advertiser’s sister title MCA’s Menu and Food Trends Report 2018, responsibility is the key trend of 2018 for both operators and consumers. This includes lower beef consumption, growing interest in vegetarian and vegan diets, falling alcohol consumption, rising demand for local produce and the surge in popularity of nose-to-tail and root-to-stem eating.
The findings revealed that when combined with the rising importance of affordability, responsibility – in regards to health, the environment and personal finances – is the key trend of 2018.
Recent years have seen huge growth in barbecue concepts and barbecue items on menus, but the current trend leans towards lower meat consumption, healthier eating and sustainable sourcing.
This means barbecue concepts will have to refine and differentiate their offers to stand out and remain relevant.
The report also found that consumers still want to try something new, exciting and worth telling their friends about when eating and drinking out but, product quality will determine if they return.
When it comes to cuisine trends, food from West African countries is making waves in street food and in fine dining.
Fried chicken is a key trend for 2018, but premium chicken is seen as a key growth area over the next few years, with more than one quarter (28%) of industry executives expecting it to be among the fastest-growing cuisines, second only to healthier eating.
Portuguese food is a hot trend alongside Korean food, which continues to proliferate. Interest in Japanese food beyond sushi and bento is also growing.
However, traditional Chinese takeaway and curry houses; meat-focused, undifferentiated barbecue food and undifferentiated Italian have peaked as food trends.
Vegan and vegetarian
Key products this year include jackfruit – a popular ‘fake meat’ product – as well as seaweed, seitan, roasted vegetables and tofu.
One of the main growth cuisines is Middle Eastern, which also has a central focus on veggie options. Operators need to address the growing demand for meat-free dishes, even from non-vegetarians.
Specific food product trends are also changing, as in 2018, many items that only emerged in the past 12 to 18 months, have already peaked.
Many of these trends have focused on visual, Instagram-friendly eating, such as black ‘activated charcoal’ buns and pizza bases or matcha-flavoured (Japanese green tea) foods instead of taste.
Consumer appetite for trying new trends is expected to be somewhat adversely hit by subdued consumer confidence, yet MCA predicts current trends around environmental and personal wellness to strengthen further in the future, providing opportunities for operators to attract younger consumers.
Prominent newer trends this year include goat’s meat, jackfruit and more artisanal and authentic pasta.
The MCA Menu and Food Trends Report 2018 is a breakdown and analysis of 31 leading casual, fast food and pub restaurant brands.
Please contact Laura Bicknell on 01293 610343 or email laura.bicknell@mca‑insight.com for the full table of contents and pricing information of the 2018 Menu & Food Trends report from MCA.