Industry analyst firm Technomic spends its life looking into its crystal ball to predict the state of things to come in the UK foodservice market. We take a look at its most recent assessment of the top trends impacting restaurants and commercial over 2016.
1) Fast-casual fever
The UK is due for a fast-casual revolution. The centre of industry growth in the US, the limited-service, fast-casual segment attracts consumers — especially Millennials — with modern settings, higher quality and better-for-you fare while maintaining affordable cheque averages. As US fast casuals like Smashburger and Chipotle continue to migrate to the UK, expect to see more British operators launch their own fast-casual concepts — while operators in other segments stay on trend by adopting fast-casual elements, like build-your-own meals and smaller, more focused menus.
2) Global hybrids
Chefs are infusing a range of global flavours into modern cuisine to create something entirely new. Ingredients and culinary techniques sourced from the Middle East, South America and South-East Asia will inspire hybrid dishes and fuel more menu-mashup innovation. Look for fusion preparations like tacos stuffed with Korean-inspired fillings and dumplings that pair Asian with European ingredients for an unexpected take on the familiar.
3) Move over, meat
Vegetables are claiming a starring role in the centre of the plate. Playing into the well-entrenched movement around local British foods, regionally grown vegetables are more likely than ever to be presented as the full meal. Watch for main course salads, eclectic interpretations of superfoods like kale, and heartier veggie-centric preparations to delight guests in search of meatless mains that are healthful yet at the same time flavourful.
4) Off the clock
The old meal paradigm is shifting, as dining patterns and eating-out occasions are starting to reflect an ever-evolving consumer sensibility. Consumers aren’t sticking to strict mealtimes these days, instead they’re increasingly gravitating towards food and service formats that can seamlessly integrate into their rapid-fire lifestyle. Expect snacks like bar bites and shareable fare to drive appeal during the hours after dinner, while grab-and-go platforms will expand across segments to make eating on the run easier any time of day.
5) Potent potables
The desire for deeper, more complex flavour profiles is driving the ongoing influx of bolder drinks. Trends point to robust-flavoured cold brews as the next big thing in coffee, while behind the bar, housemade bitters, sour IPAs and lesser-known cocktails that tout Fernet, Campari, Aperol and amaro digestifs will spur on this renaissance for flavour potency in beverages.