If you are reading this, then congratulations on surviving yet another mammoth Christmas meal, followed by a wave of festive celebrations, family visits and partying on into the new year. Like many of you, The Beaver is eagerly anticipating the new innovations and treats the foodservice industry is set to spring upon us.
Over the last year, there has been a wide range of different trends and innovations reflecting consumer demands and changes in attitudes, such as the breakfast and brunch boom, food served in bowls, avocado being in everything, ‘eastern’ food inspirations, and the huge increase in food delivery. Looking ahead, The Beaver believes 2018 is set to be a year of even more food adventures, with trends and cuisines building on the stepping stones that the previous year created.
Having seen Eastern influences aplenty across the food industry, from Korean broths, Szechuan sauce and Cantonese style noodles, it was clear that we and operators had gone Asian mad. Towards the back end of last year, The Beaver noticed the slow emergence of Middle Eastern and African flavours creeping into restaurant meal choices. Spices such as turmeric, harissa and cardamom will be ever more prominent, allowing consumers to explore different cultures through new meal choices.
Another notable change is in the fast food and fast casual market. Most notably this category has introduced the better burger, the faster pizza and the quality one pot meal. While Hawaiian food grew across London in the form of poke, The Beaver does not see this as being the new wave of fast food (yet – maybe look out for this more in 2018/2019). Vegan and gluten-free markets are booming thanks to social media influencers, bloggers, health and fitness enthusiasts and celebrity chefs, as well as consumers being more aware of what they eat.
Leading on from this, London has already embraced the vegetarian movement, with vegan and gluten-free to follow this most notably with the introduction of by CHLOE., New York’s hippest plant-based, fast casual operator opening its first site in the capital. The Beaver also believes that this trend will positively impact the growth of plant-based meals and diets, with more chefs embracing ingredients such as tofu and quinoa.
The other big trend which has taken 2017 by storm is the combination of eating and entertainment. This is surely set to grow across the new year with multiple operators now offering the same experiences, such as crazy golf focused around quirky burgers and smoothies. There will be plenty more restaurants that look to combine entertainment with eating, in a bid to make their offer look more attractive and enticing, while some operators and individuals will combine the use of technology and virtual reality to send consumers on a journey of how their meal was created.
The Beaver also considers the growth of technology and artificial intelligence to be a big factor across the industry in terms of ordering and payment. Across other continents, guests are using facial recognition to pay for their meals, while some restaurants are introducing technologies similar to Amazon Alexa and Google Home. Technology is increasingly changing how consumers live, to the level that now our appliances know when we wake up in order to ensure a cup of coffee is ready for us by the time we reach the kitchen.
What a wonderful world we live in now. While we close the door on the previous year, the industry shows no signs of slowing down with ever growing, interesting and more exciting trends altering our attitudes not only towards foodservice, but how we live our lives and explore new cultures and cuisines.