Wild Card’s Group Food Director, Victoria Prior, shares her round-up of the best food trend predictions for 2018

The first month of the year has rolled to a close and the flood of predicted trends for 2018 have all been paraded in the media. In the spirit of picking up where we left off at the end of ’17, with the review of the trends that actually landed, we move onto a whistle stop blast through the 2018 list. The wheat from the chaff has been sorted, casting aside the self-serving editorial focusing on chefs’ own agendas, to get to the real insights – and  identify the ones to watch:

  • Purple foods – the advocates of purple grub aren’t giving up, despite the no show in 2017. I’m sceptical but prepared to be open minded (I will eat my hat if this really lands though)
  • Vegan – it’s not moving anywhere, rather moving on in the innovation stakes with Vegan Junk Food, the pop up trials started at the very end of 2017 with Gizzie Erskin’s Pure Filth at The Tate. The genre is set to move to bricks and mortar with By Chloe (US import) due open this year. The single concepts are already with us such as Temple of Hackney, London’s first vegan ‘chicken shop’. 
  • Heavily localised sourcing has become pretty commonplace since Rene Redzepi of Noma, Copenhagen, placed it into culinary cool; taking this wider – and again not a new concept to dine out on – Brexit could push local sourcing further, and not just those traditionally associated with the UK but far flung crops too. Dorset’s Ryewater Nursery is harvesting rare Asian plant varieties like som saa and pandan (the latter is according to Nigella set to be the avocado of 2018). 
  • Nose to tail eating meets veg – nose to tail is a meat associated term, coined by St John, and vegetables are now not to be left out. Wholefoods is setting its stall on us using the whole veg and fruit, and the popularity of recipes such as Carrot Shoot Pesto (Rebecca Sullivan, Australian food writer) illustrate the point.
  • Gut friendly food – fermenting and pickling we are told is ‘mainstream’ now, or at least it has been widely covered in the media. The evolution of this trend is to move the focus to the subject of gut health and diet, for example Leon’s link up with Dr Megan Rossi creating new menu items and hosting events on the subject area. Further builds here are in the area of Nootropics (brain food), and we look set to see media conversation and attention within the sector on cognition and ingredients.
  • Booze free beverages – this category will grow and grow with more ‘Seedlip’ style launches
  • Timut Pepper from Nepal – it is spikey, zesty, and carries tones of grapefruit, leaving a tingly residual heat on the palate – and is tipped as the next ‘big thing’ in condiments and possibly cocktails too.
  • Heme – back to the vegan conversation, Heme (pronounced heem), is claimed to be a stepping stone to a more environmentally sustainable meat alternative, it is used to bring a more ‘meaty’ quality to plant based dishes and the ‘bloodiness’ of rare cooked meat. Oh the irony.   
  • Cuisine genres to watch – West African and South American – the latter not new to us, but we could be going deeper into regionality and fusions. Not a genre but tipped as a trend is ‘the fourth meal’, the actual definition of this is woolly and I am skeptical, but what’s not to love about an excuse to eat more?!
  • Moving onto matters of trading and trend in eating out. The sale, closure and administration of multiple mid-market restaurant chains has been hitting the headlines over the past 18 months. Survival in this sector could look to greater shrinkification, with paired down versions of the main concept. The discount lead, over saturated mid-market, needs to look to cost-cutting to survive the squeeze. Fast food kings Five Guys are leading the charge with smaller formats in west London with a bigger focus on takeaway and delivery.
  • Plastic – we all know the headlines hit in Jan and will continue to roll on through the year.
  • Antibiotic resistance and the over use in the food chain – at the tail end of last year we saw the multiples at last starting to talk and set policy. This is a subject that will roll on through the year along with Brexit in relation to food and farming policy as well as pricing across the whole sector.