2017 saw a large change in people’s attitudes towards food in terms of health and the environmental impact of food. Trends seen include reduced meat consumption, the ‘avocado craze’, cereal and yogurts fortified with plant protein, turmeric as a superfood and a move away from the recent low-carb trend in favour of healthy grains such as quinoa and bulgur wheat. What can we expect for 2018? Below are avisso’s predictions for the hottest food trends to look out for in 2018.
2018 is likely to see this trend continue with a focus on the environmental impact and an increased demand for transparency around how our food is sourced. New companies are producing increasingly realistic meat alternatives.
It is thought that, worldwide, nearly 2,000 species of insects are consumed by around two billion people. Despite this, UK consumers are wary of including insects in their diets. Recent new product development and campaigning to change attitudes to insects in food mean that 2018 could see a shift in consumer perception. With customers looking for more sustainable sources of protein whilst reducing their carbon footprints, there is ample potential for this trend to take off this year. Examples of champions of this trend are Eat Grub who are making insects more accessible by including them in their cereal bars. Additionally, Crunchy Critters include salt and vinegar crickets, insect powder, ants and caterpillars in their range. A range of insect snacks including crickets, mealworms and grasshoppers are also available to purchase on Amazon.
Recent years have seen a rise in the popularity of fermented foods, and avisso predicts a continued growth of this trend in 2018. Traditionally, fermentation was used as a method of preservation. During fermentation, microorganisms such as bacteria, yeast, and fungi convert organic compounds such as starch into alcohol or acids, acting as a natural preservative. During the process, a large amount of ‘good’ bacteria, known as probiotics, is produced. There is now evidence to suggest that probiotics provide health benefits. Read more below.
Adding edible flowers to dishes has been popular for a few years but mainly for their aesthetics rather than flavour. 2018 is likely to see an increase in flowers being added to food and drinks, but now also for their flavour. Popular ones are likely to be rose, elderflower and lavender flowers, with examples of how they will be incorporated into foods including lavender latte and elderflower cocktails. In addition to their flavour, many flowers may also be used for their health benefits, often being rich in vitamins and minerals.
Two trends in focus – plant protein and gut-friendly foods
It’s ‘Veganuary’, meaning a lot of us will be accepting the challenge of following a vegan diet for a month. However, for more and more of us, the plant-based diet is becoming a permanent lifestyle choice.
A 2016 Ipsos MORI survey for the Vegan Society found a 350% increase in the number of Britons following a vegan diet over the last ten years. The trend is largely observable in the younger cohorts, with the 15-34 age bracket making up 42% of vegans in the survey. (source: https://www.ipsos.com/ipsos-mori/en-uk/vegan-society-poll)
Further shifts in consumer habits and, perhaps more importantly, consumer perception has seen an increased focus on the macronutrient protein.
Previously, vegetarians and vegans were often quizzed about their ability to reach the recommended daily protein intake of 0.75g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight (British Nutrition Foundation, 2017). However, more and more high-protein labelled products are appearing on supermarket shelves every year and many of these contain so-called plant proteins. Recent innovation has a role to play in this.
Beyond Meat, an LA-based company makes vegan burgers to simulate beef burgers as closely as possible, containing a similar amount of protein and iron. The protein comes from peas and a small amount of beetroot is used to give the burger a red colour and the effect of ‘bleeding’. Beyond Meat will be launching in the UK in 2018. A similar company, Impossible Foods, based in Silicon Valley, produces vegan burgers containing the ingredient heme, a compound found in meat that can also be sourced in plants. According to Impossible Foods, it is heme which makes the burger sizzle, bleed and taste meaty. The company is currently in talks with a restaurant chain with a presence in the UK.
Influential UK retailers Waitrose and Marks & Spencer predict a continued rise of product innovation geared by a continued steady increase in demand for meat alternatives. 2017 saw a 417% increase in the number of ‘saves’* for “plant proteins” on the social media platform Pinterest. (Pinterest, 2017). Furthermore, online searches of ‘plant protein’ have also increased steadily as demonstrated below (source: Google).
*Pinterest is an online social network where peers share visual collections known as pinboards that can be ‘saved’ (previously known as ‘pinned’) by users. These often revolve around food, recipes, style inspiration and ‘life hacks’.
Fermented foods – for your gut’s sake
The fermented food trend is less of a new product development revolution and more of an introduction of traditional regional foods (think Korean kimchi, Japanese miso and Eastern European sauerkraut) into Western cuisine.
Fermented foods are gaining in popularity, partly due to their high probiotic content. Probiotics are often celebrated for their gut-friendly properties. It is thought that taking them with antibiotics can help reduce antibiotic-related diarrhoea and nausea, by preventing the superbug Clostridium difficile. It is also thought that probiotics may help to reduce the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (BBC, 2017). Furthermore, there is emerging evidence of the positive role probiotics may play in weight management through improving the immune system and reducing allergies. However, it is important to note that studies surrounding weight management claims remain inconclusive and further evidence is needed to provide direct links.
Examples of fermented foods and how they have grown in popularity
Tempeh – made from naturally fermented soybeans. With a slightly nutty flavour, not only is it a good source of probiotics but also as a source of protein for vegans and vegetarians, containing all the essential amino acids needed in our diet. Tempeh often falls within the meat substitute market (alongside Quorn, tofu, seitan and textured vegetable protein). A recent Allied Market Research report predicted an 8.4% global market growth of meat substitutes during the period of 2015-2020, with Europe accounting for 39% of meat substitute purchases in 2014 (Food Manufacture)
Kefir – a fermented dairy drink, similar to yogurt but higher in probiotic bacteria and yeast. Kefir has a notably acidic flavour and an effervescent mouthfeel. The probiotic-rich dairy product has been predicted to have a CAGR of nearly 6% by 2021 (Technavio, 2017) A recent episode of BBC’s Trust Me I’m a Doctor tested, with the help of university and research centres experts, three different so-called gut-friendly foods on different test groups. Measuring the volunteers’ gut bacteria over a four-week period, it was the group that consumed kefir every day that exhibited the most notable change in their gut microbiome through a consistent rise in Lactobacillales. This family of bacteria is thought to help general gut health and improve conditions such as ‘travellers’ diarrhoea’ (BBC, 2017)
Kombucha – a fermented, ‘fizzy tea’ thought to originate from Manchuria. Kombucha is predicted to have a compound annual growth rate (“CAGR”) of 15% globally through 2021 (Technavio, 2017) with the kombucha market in the EMEA region expected to reach $660.67m by the same time.
Kimchi – a traditional Korean side dish of spiced, fermented vegetables (often cabbage). Kimchi is thought to have grown in popularity not only through the growing fermented foods trend but also from the growing popularity of Korean foods and the recent emergence of fast-casual Korean restaurants such as Kimchee and Bibimpap on the UK high street. Kimchi has also been observed in fusion foods – for example as an alternative to pickles in burgers (Source).
Sauerkraut – popular in Germany and Eastern Europe, Sauerkraut is made from finely-cut cabbage and salt and has a distinctive sour flavour. As with all the above examples, sauerkraut has been around for many years but it is the recent change in perception around the food – owing to the fact that it is fermented – that has led it to gain popularity outside its home base.