The food industry is always changing with new tastes, flavours, and dishes to discover – which is what makes it such an exciting, not to mention delicious, space to work in.
As the world continues to recover from Covid-19, adjust to the cost-of-living crisis and adapt to new technologies, what does this mean for the future of the food we’ll be eating? These are some key trends to watch in the next year and beyond.
- New nostalgia
We’re seeing a return to traditional dishes and ingredients. There has been high demand for classic desserts like tarte tatins, trifles and rice pudding, as well as heritage vegetables in savoury dishes. These old school recipes might come with a modern twist like unexpected flavours but tend to retain their much loved simplicity and comfort.
This return to nostalgic dishes is in part a legacy from Covid-19 when home baking boomed, and many people longed for ‘the good old days’. There has been a desire to go back to basics, not over complicate and enjoy classic flavour combinations that create an amazing experience. Dishes like this have the added benefit of being relatively cheap to make, offering great value as well as flavour. Watch out for more twists on classic dishes over the next few years.
- Indulge in the wow factor
As well as a trend for nostalgia, we are also seeing a real desire for wow factor and indulgence. Dining out has become a bigger treat with many people now keen for experiential dining and a feast for the senses. Christmas 2022 is set to be pure indulgence, with cakes piled high, beautiful decorations and extravagant finishes. It’s all about thinking differently, adding quirky touches and wowing with visuals as well as flavours.
The introduction of calorie counts on menus in the UK has highlighted and raised awareness of what people are eating to some extent, but there is still a place for indulgence and experience. We’ve seen that many people are aware of calories but opt for experience over restriction when eating out.
- Exotic flavours
While it’s been hard to get overseas for much of the last two years, our desire for culinary travel has only increased. We’re seeing a growing demand for new exotic and international flavours which we expect to continue into next year and beyond.
Japanese flavours including miso, wasabi and matcha are growing in popularity, while tea flavours like chai and green tea are a trend to watch in deserts. Levantine inspired dishes are becoming more commonplace on menus, while middle eastern herbs and spices are being used as flavouring across the board.
- Free-from steps up
We’ve been creating vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free dishes for a long time, but innovation in this space is really picking up pace. Once relegated to a tick box or after thought, as food requirements become mainstream, free-from dishes and ingredients are becoming so good, they appeal to everyone.
Non-meat alternatives like chicken fillets and burgers now taste as good as the real thing, while traditionally tricky alternatives like dairy free cheese have become much better over recent years. With veganism rising, there’s sometimes a battle between vegans and vegetarians who still want to see dairy options on menus. It’s important not to treat all food restrictions as one thing and consider various options. New ingredients like potato milk which is creamy and easy to use are becoming more commonplace and the humble mushroom is still a cornerstone of meat-free cooking.
- Tech helps hospitality
Staffing is a major issue in the hospitality industry, and as the labour crisis continues, expect to see a move towards using technology sustainably to help.
While robot waiters might be making headlines, innovation could also mean dishes arriving almost completely finished so they just require plating up. We’re seeing more demand for simple assembly, sometimes accompanied by quick and easy finishing touches. Customers often want a hand-crafted finish, but this can often be replicated offsite to improve efficiencies in the kitchen and create a better experience.