Round Up of the Year: 2018 Trends

With plant-based foods, the meat-free movement and experiential dining, 2018 not only saw a shift in the types of dishes frequenting menus, but also the way in which they are served. As consumers actively look for dishes with a difference, the days where food was ordered just to be eaten are long gone; it is now there to be enjoyed as part of an experience.  

We look back over some of the hottest food trends of the year:

Veganism

2018 saw flexitarian and vegan diets rising in popularity throughout the year; according to research by Plant Based News, veganism now accounts for 7% of the UK population (3.5 million people). This, teamed with news that eating less meat is more beneficial for the environment, drove many operators to incorporate fresh, plant-based dishes into their menus. A recent report by Foodable Labs revealed more than half (51%) of chefs in the UK added vegan options to their menus during 2018, up from 31% in 2017.

Experiential dining

With growing emphasis on the behavioural habits of millennials and Gen Z, 2018 saw a huge increase in experiential dining, as consumers turned their focus to memorable experiences. As 72% of millennials admitted to valuing experiences over materialistic things, we saw a rise in restaurants that enabled diners to cook their own food, as well as new and exciting experimental flavours cropping up on menus. 

Premiumisation

The trend for premiumisation in the on-trade continued to grow through 2018 with operators increasingly looking to add ‘upgrade options’ to their menus; in the last year alone, we saw skin-on sales surge by 65% as a result of this. During 2018, we launched Crispers and Sweet Potato Rusticsfor those operators looking for easy wins on menu upgrades. 

And not forgetting our heartland… 

Loaded chips 

We couldn’t have a trends piece without a potato appearance and loaded fries are a great example of a potato trend that went from strength to strength during 2018, as operators discovered a dish that worked for both diners and those visiting primarily to drink. Loaded fries also play nicely into the premiumisation trend, giving operators an opportunity to upsell with a variety of toppings. 

As customers demanded new flavours in 2018, we saw a variety of loaded fries popping up on menus across pubs and casual dining venues, with a selection of exciting toppings including chilli and cheese and My Thai sweet potato wedges. We recently created 50 recipes for loaded chips from operators, street food vendors and many more to bring the best new dishes to the hospitality sector, available to download here.

From new and exciting vegan recipes to a makeover for the humble chip, 2018 was a busy year for foodservice. We’re now looking forward to seeing the hotly tipped trends for 2019 come to life across the industry.