12 Trends to Watch in 2012
With the New Year well and truly upon us and Christmas sadly behind us, EatSleepDrink brings in 2012 with a bang by speaking to its readers and taking a closer look at 12 trends that look set to define the UK’s dynamic food sector in the coming year.
- Artisanal everything: Not new, but still going strong, “artisanal” originally referred to handcrafted foods but is now springing up everywhere. The term has even trickled down to quick-service restaurants, with major chains like Subway touting ‘artisanal’ breads as a selling point. One product that’s not quite so mainstream: artisanal marshmallows.
- What’s ‘Appening: With the growth of social media, companies are becoming increasingly canny at utilising technology to galvanise consumers and increase brand visibility. Sites like Twitter (www.twitter.com) and Facebook (www.facebook.com) are now an integral part of the majority of high street brands’ marketing strategy. The use of social media for feedback, competitions and suggestions now plays a fundamental role in developing new business opportunities and increasing customer satisfaction.
- Making fast-food fast and healthy: While the traditional concept of fast-food is still many people’s guilty pleasure, those favouring more healthy offerings are now spoilt for choice on our high streets. The proliferation of brands like Pret, Itsu, Wasabi, Now and Chilango are not only producing healthier food but also serving it in record time. With lunch breaks being squeezed throughout the UK, as companies look to save money and increase productivity, such outlets are bracing themselves for another bumper year.
- Breakfast anytime: Customers want what they want when they want it—and for many, what they want is breakfast. Restaurants are happy to oblige, since breakfast food ingredients are typically cheaper than other meals. Some are serving breakfast menus all day long; others are reinterpreting breakfast foods for dinner with items like sandwiches made of waffles, egg dishes or French toast bread puddings.
- Juicy news: Depending on where you live, it might seem like juice bars are oversaturated. But Howard Schultz doesn’t think so. The Starbucks entrepreneur recently bought Evolution Fresh, a super-premium juice maker with a brand presence in grocery stores on the West Coast of the USA. He plans to sell the juice to more retail outlets, put it on the menu at Starbucks and launch juice bars in 2012. If Schultz thinks this market has more room for growth, maybe you should, too — especially if you’re in an area where juice bars (or Starbucks) don’t have a strong presence.
- Pop-up restaurants: High streets cluttered with chains are presenting opportunities for street food, pop-ups, swarms and food trucks. As a result, instant restaurants and bars are picking up steam. With little capital, resources, or planning necessary, chefs have greater freedom to try out menu items, restaurant themes, and locations. Furthermore, pop-ups are a fantastic way for brands to ‘reach out’ to customers and gain new fans without the capital outlay of opening new and expensive restaurants.
- Healthy eating: Trends like gluten-free foods and products catering to diners with food allergies will continue to be hot. Watch for whole grains, a wider range of salads, selection in portion size, calorie counts and low-salt options to grow in popularity as well.
- Appetite for appetizers: Whether you call them tapas, small plates or appetizers, smaller-sized portions are going to keep growing strong for several reasons. They’re less expensive for cost-conscious diners, offer smaller portions for health-conscious diners, and are made for sharing, which appeals to people’s desire to make eating out a social experience. Chefs like them, too, because appetizers allow them to experiment with new recipes and ingredients without committing to a full-scale meal.
- Foodie festivals: Festival veterans will sense that something is afoot at the ever-growing number of festivals dedicated to the wonderful ingredients to be found in our back gardens. In the past, festivals were infamous for their stodgy-verging-on-filthy diet of greasy doughnuts, rubbery noodles and dubious burgers. But times are changing, and changing with style. Led by a new generation of festivals where the food shares top billing with the music and celebrity chefs mingle with rock stars, we predict the revolution will continue at pace in 2012.
- Familiar favourites with a twist: One overwhelming trend that will continue into 2012 is a yen for familiarity. As a result of being battered by the economy, consumers want comfort food. But that doesn’t mean plain old burger-and-chips. Many of the UK’s chefs are putting new twists on old formats, like pizzas, wraps and sandwiches, or using exotic ingredients in familiar foods, such as wasabi ice cream.
- The Mexican’s are coming: As with recently featured Poncho 8 (Issue 3, pg. 29), the growing demand for Mexican-influenced cuisine looks set to grow significantly in 2012. The popularity of burritos, quesadillas, tacos and nachos – food that is tasty, fast and generally more nutritious than American-style fast-food – shows no signs of slowing down. Indeed, such is the demand for Mexican cuisine, American giant Chipotle is already making waves in the UK market and could well be the company to watch in 2012.
- Going organic: Ethical and organic food producers, such as What on Earth, are behind the increasingly visible organic sector in the UK. The pesticide-free approach has caught on with many shoppers in the UK and despite the recession, research has shown that consumers are prepared to pay more for natural products.
Any trends we missed? Get in touch with us: firstname.lastname@example.org