What’s in fashion in the world of food?

What’s next? It’s the question on everyone’s lips. In a world where, thanks to technology, everything is moving faster, it makes sense that trends in food and drink are also emerging at lightning speed. In this piece, we consider some of the biggest trends that have emerged so far in 2018, why that is, and how we think they might develop over time into 2019.

2018: The Year of Health
One of the most overt trends we’ve seen over the last year is that health has become huge – and that the route to ‘healthy’ has taken many different forms. In previous years, we saw high-fat diets such as the Atkins diet find favour. Then, low carbohydrate diets emphasising an increase in fat and protein, such as the Palaeolithic or ‘Cave Man’ diets, had their heyday.

FODMAP diets, allegedly good for those with IBS or other gastrointestinal sensitivities, entered consumer consciousness, and Ketogenic diets promised to help the consumer shift weight fast.

Now, according to Macphie’s Category Marketing Manager, Catherine McBeth, the market is all about cutting down on meat to stay healthy. Much of this has come from those generations we seem to hear so much about – the Millennial generation (those born between 1980 and 1994) and Generation Z (born between 1995 – 2012).

Described as being perhaps more ethically aware that their elder counterparts, Millennials are the driving force behind the rise of vegetarian, vegan and flexitarian diets. And, if you don’t know what ‘flexitarianism’ is, it’s about time you found out.

Emphasising the power of a plant-focused diet to improve your overall health, whilst occasionally consuming carefully sourced and ethically-reared animal proteins, flexitarianism has found a foothold in modern food consciousness.

Millennials, often dubbed the ‘snowflake’ generation, are shaping their food habits around a highly ethical approach to eating. Veganism, for example, has never been more popular – with supermarket giants such as Tesco developing their very own ‘Wicked Kitchen’ vegan range.

Quality is King
At Macphie, we know that this trend is one thing that’s here to stay – and that vegans, vegetarians and flexitarians are demanding premium plant-based eating options. The days of the nut roast being the sole vegetarian option are gone, and customers have a real appetite for consistent quality options.

Catherine remarked that: “We know that the flavours and textures of meat may remain appealing – the advent of the ‘bleeding’ beet burger is a testament to this – but quality, as ever, is king.”

At Macphie, we know that our BBQ jackfruit product is a no brainer for those looking to tap into the consumer appetite for quality meat-free options.

Endlessly versatile, it lends itself to nachos, as a mushroom burger topping, or generously stuffed into a wholegrain wrap with nutty brown rice and that other fashionable favourite – avocado.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that we eat with our eyes. But with the rise of Instagram and all its attendant hashtags, millennials are the first generation to blend social media and dining. Indeed, for many people, it begs the questions – if you didn’t post a photo, did you really go out for dinner?

To capture those ever-decreasing consumer attention spans, operators have had to become increasingly creative – deploying activated charcoal in cakes, glitter in lattes, and food colouring in frosting for ‘unicorn food’ lovers. Sushi burritos, ramen burgers, and bright blue smoothies served in coconut shells with edible flowers – the more visually arresting, the better.

A shift in this market has taken place, however, and the trend we’ve seen emerge is that bigger may no longer mean better. Excess for the sake of excess now seems to be a thing of the past. Whilst candied bacon and marshmallow ‘freakshakes’, outlandishly topped hot dogs and vast cronuts were all Instagrammed for their rainbow colours, size or shock factor, consumers are now turning their attention elsewhere. Now, to make the Instagram cut, consumers are on the hunt for food that’s genuinely aesthetically pleasing – and that tastes great. Enter Macphie’s burger melts.

As Catherine says: “By crafting premium flavours with quality ingredients, burger melts are a new way to elevate an existing burger offering into something superior.” Our jack cheese and jalapeño melts are perfect for adding a twist to the American classic, and our Stilton melts give burgers a touch of British class.

The sweetest thing
Sugar is officially on the agenda. With 8Irn Bru fans somewhat displeased at the alteration to the recipe of their favourite fizzy drinks, the sugar tax is certain to have real impact as the government cracks down the sweet stuff.

Those health-conscious millennials and fans of ‘clean eating’ may be no strangers to agave syrup, raw honey or stevia, but these alternative sweeteners are now edging their way into the mass market. Savvy operators keen to avoid the sugar levy who make changes now may well profit in the long run.

Who and what is here to stay?
As millennials continue to impact the market, we see their buying habits, purchase decisions, and food ‘consciousness’ influencing sales from supermarkets to street food trucks. And it isn’t just the operators we see being affected!

Baby-boomers and older generations, who are also interested in being healthy, are now turning towards those trends sparked by the younger crowd. As the popularity of plant-focused diets rises, at Macphie, we fully expect this trend to continue well into 2019 and beyond.

As veganism and vegetarianism remain on the increase, and with more operators providing delicious meat-free alternatives, carnivores may well find themselves captured by these animal-friendly options.

Charlotte Leith is a writer at Macphie. Macphie has been a creator of quality ingredients since 1928, and is a supplier to numerous catering outlets and household name brands, as well as many high-street restaurants and operators. Its innovation and industry expertise have ensured that businesses, outlets and operators stay ahead of the market curve, and informed about trends in their industry.