It’s no secret that the UK has become a nation of food lovers. In fact, recent research has revealed that 42% of Brits identify themselves as a ‘foodie’[i] – and for chefs already working in the fast-paced pub and bar sector, this means continually keeping on top of emerging food trends.
When time is of the essence in a busy kitchen, seeking opportunities to review and revitalise menus, without having to make multiple or significant changes, is key – especially when it comes to encouraging new and repeat custom.
With what seems like daily claims of the newest "superfood" or "next big thing", at Bidvest Foodservice we have been looking at exactly what the trends are which are going to spell success in foodservice innovation throughout this year.
To do this we have talked to countless experts and reviewed all the major reports. Here’s what we found:
Big up British
A movement which we have been seeing more of in recent years is an interest in "backing British" and this is something which is going to come into its own in 2017.
British, provenance, artisan and regional are all key buzzwords right now, and consumers will be doing just that when it comes to choosing meats, cheeses, vegetables, ice-cream, yoghurts and cheeses, for example.
Adding sourcing information to your menus or switching ingredients to include more products that offer heritage, authenticity and provenance could encourage new customers through the door.
Go for American, but not as you currently know it
This trend doesn’t just mean the usual burgers and hot dogs, we’re seeing a growth in demand for dishes from North and South America, through to Latin America, Mexican cuisines, Caribbean and Hawaiian.
Consumers are looking for authentic, regional flavours and cooking techniques, such as smoking and barbequing, and items such as BBQ ribs and enchiladas fit well within this.
Sharing plates are a good place to start with this trend, especially in a pub environment where those who have popped in for a drink may be tempted by a snack-style plate rather than a full meal.
Oriental flavours are key
Asian street food is a trend which is showing no sign of slowing down and there is a demand for new cuisines - such as Korean, Vietnamese and Japanese - different dishes and flavour combinations, all at reasonable prices.
This is a cuisine trend which also lends itself to fusion recipes for example Komex (Korean and Mexican) which can be fun for chefs to play with and a real talking point as a special in the right venue.
So how can these trends fit into menus?
It’s important to find what works best for your establishment and customer base. In some cases, it may be as simple as calling out certain ingredients on menus to alert diners to British-sourced food.
Or it may be trialling dishes or themes for specials as part of a tasting or event – for example, Japanese dining or Mexican-themed evenings to test out recipes and concepts, pulling in new and existing customers with something different.
It doesn’t need to break the bank either – by trialling new ideas you can discover what works best for your establishment before taking the plunge.
Alternatively, adding a twist to current menu items by using different spices and flavours can be a cost-effective way of incorporating trends into menus.
Innovation is the key to thriving in this crowded market, it’s all about differentiating your menu and tuning into trends that drive consumer engagement at just the right moment in time.