Which key food and drink trends will be shaping menus and kitchen development during the course of 2020?
That was the question posed to a selection of industry experts that collectively represent more than 8,000 sites representing tens of thousands of customers a day.
The exercise, undertaken by leading trade show Casual Dining ahead of the event in March, provides a snapshot of the trends that some of the most influential executive chefs and food development heads expect to shape their work this year.
Here’s what they had to say:
Brian Trollip, operations director, Dishoom: “We’re all pretty exhausted by the constant squabbling, politics and polarisation that seems to be happening globally. All the anger is tiresome, and I think that 2020 will be great for anyone who helps people to escape for a while and to have fun and let go. Things are getting expensive and we’re fast realising that we need to look after the world we live in, so I think that restaurants offering a delicious, fun, inclusive experience with little or no meat will do very well (and it’s probably important that they do).”
Jane Treasure, food & beverage director, Pizza Express (below): “Consumers will be increasingly focused on self and their sense of wellbeing, plus their impact on the world and documenting it. The big opportunity for food operators will be to elevate the whole dining experience, with beautiful food presentation and great flavours with great ingredient combinations. Strong sustainable credentials to all ingredients and removal of unnecessary packaging will be expected and become the norm.”
Amir Ali, culinary innovation strategist, Mitchells & Butlers: “Sustainability and health continue to drive innovation but there are some signs that diners are looking for more adventure – not just in taste but also textures. In the mainstream, where most brands sit, change is always slow. Anything innovative we do needs to be comfortably anchored to something familiar. ‘Better Beef’ is a good example of this, where consumers are opting for smaller quantities of high-end cuts of British beef.
“It’s a great anti-trend to the now-ubiquitous vegan influences – if you’re going to eat meat, you need to make sure that it was worth killing for. Other considerations include longer aging and different ways of getting marbling, from feeds to breeds, such as Wagu crosses or North American grain-fed.”
Paul Lewis, chef director, Prezzo (below): “The flexitarian lifestyle will become more mainstream off the back of the Vegan market. People, irrespective of demographic and age, will choose two to three days a week to follow a vegan diet. So, picking the right carbs and proteins will play an important role. Pasta is now beginning to grow in popularity again – as people have a better understanding of consuming the right amount of carbs to maintain a healthy diet and all the fantastic, meat free alternatives to classic pasta dishes that are coming back on the market.
“Following Brexit, I can see the celebration of the best of British seasonal produce leading the way casual dining innovators develop their menus. It’s not a new trend for independents or fine dining but something that casual dining has moved away from in recent years and I feel the British public will want to embrace.”
Nicola Underwood, food development manager, Thwaites: “I think consumers will become even more conscious of the choices they are making and the brands they are aligning to. Shorter supply chains, less processing of ingredients and heritage will all play an increasing role in the industry in the coming 12 months. The rise of the market hall-style operation, where people in a group can choose something different but all eat together, is gaining momentum, which I think will continue. Also, breakfast/brunch as a meal occasion will continue in its popularity. This brings greater opportunities for businesses to extend their offerings with some of the global cuisine influences that are trending, such as Middle Eastern and Asian.
Andy Briggs, menu development manager, Punch Pubs (below): “There will be even more focus on healthier dishes starting with salads, lower carb options or even carb less meals. We are looking at updating our salads, using seeds and raw, clean ingredients to fulfil our customers’ requirements. Vegan has been a trend for a couple of years and there have been some great developments with our food suppliers. Now vegan meals are a mainstream requirement, it’s more of a focus for us. If we have a vegetarian meal, then we look at how we can make it vegan to also cover that market.
“We’re seeing a bigger uptake in these types of dishes with meat eaters too, who like the thought of these meals or the flavours that we are using. Take the Cambodian curry on Punch’s Our Local menu – for 66% of sales customers add a protein of chicken or prawns to the meal. Out go Mediterranean and South American dishes and in come light Asian meals and broth-based dishes, with some great flavours. We will be putting these to the test on our next Spring/Summer menu in 2020.”
Charlotte Huckvale, product development and innovation manager at Marston’s: “It will be hard to avoid the fact that vegan products will continue to surge on to the market. However, we are likely to see the conversation turn more to plant based as the term used to describe these products, opening the market to more customers. I think the focus will also turn more to other plant-based products compared to this year, which has been heavily focused on meat replacers. Also, we are likely to see increased interest in prebiotic ingredients and more regional specific Asian flavours.
“The biggest opportunities will be particularly around driving experience for consumers (in all the different aspects going to a pub/out for a meal can involve). Customers will still want to see value for money, not just through price but through provenance and quality. Health will also continue to be a focus, especially with the pending calorie targets from PHE and increasing awareness of the link between the food we eat and our gut and mental wellbeing.”
Seamus O’Donnell, executive chef, The Alchemist Bars & Restaurants: “I dread to say it, but Brexit will have a big influence on food and drink trends next year. It will be a challenge that will impact menus and what we eat. The population is rising and there is huge demand for crops that cannot be grown here. Society has grown used to so much being available all year round. Can we increase self-sufficiency? Definitely. There are some very basic things that we are going to have to accept that we will have to import, and we will have to pay more for it.”
Mark Teed, food implementation manager, Star Pubs & Bars: Sustainability will have a major impact on the products and ingredients operators choose. The use of food that would otherwise have gone to landfill and produce with low food miles will be big, and there’ll be lots of shouting about it. Sustainability will also impact on menu content. Customers are still eating red meat but are more frequently choosing to have meat-free days and are looking for meat-free options to balance their diets, so meat substitutes will be big in 2020. We’ll see things like banana blossom make their way onto mainstream menus and vegetables being added into meat products, both to enhance taste and texture and cut C02 emissions.