The food and drink industry has to constantly adapt to changing consumer trends. So, according to experts, what should you be adding to your shopping list in 2018? Suttons, online gardening retailers and advocates of grow your own vegetables, investigates:

Healthy indulgence

The occasional alcoholic tipple is popular with many Brits, whether it’s to go with a nice dinner or for a social occasion. However, we are becoming more health conscious and calorie counting doesn’t go well with a taste for liquor…

Pave the way for our latest trend — low-calorie drinking. This new trend allows us to drink and be sociable without consuming extra calories. The low-calorie option amongst alcoholic drinks has been a rising segment for many years and will continue to grow as we increasingly monitor what we eat and drink.

You might have already noticed a healthy alcohol section in your supermarket with low-calorie beer and cocktails. Now, 78% of bars offer cocktails which is up 12% on 2016 — driven by social media and people’s willingness to post photos of their fancy drinks. Zach Sasser, a head bartender, predicts that ingredients such as beetroot juice, kale and pureed carrots will be popular. “Going into this health-conscious age that we live in, I believe integration is inevitable,” he says.

There are some predictions for new ingredients in our cocktails too. In one survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association, 700 chefs were surveyed on what they think the latest culinary trends may be. They said that the relationship between the bar and the kitchen is to become stronger. Can we expect vegetable-infused cocktails in 2018?

Mushrooms — the main ingredient

Studies have demonstrated to us that the ‘adaptogenic’ compounds are what makes mushrooms so good for us. These compounds have anti-stress and anti-cancer properties. For this reason, we predict that mushrooms will be the next big thing in 2018. In fact, Food Navigator found that year-on-year sales of food products that include medicinal mushrooms have risen between an outstanding 200-800%, depending on the variety.

The market for mushrooms is predicted to increase rapidly over the next six years, becoming worth over £37 million. Making its way into the food and drink sector through mushroom-infused coffees and mushroom smoothies, many cafes and retailers are already profiting from the trend.

It’s not just foodstuffs that will be containing the magic ingredient either. Different species of mushrooms are chosen for their varying properties — for example shiitake mushrooms are known for their richness in antioxidants and high vitamin D content, and the reishi mushroom is selected for its anti-inflammatory properties.

Non-meat eaters

Becoming vegan or vegetarian is becoming more popular as people choose to remove meat from their diets. In fact, the number of vegans in the UK has risen by 350% in the past decade — predominantly driven by the younger market, with half of those opting for this diet falling between the ages of 15 and 34. Some people are enjoying the best of both worlds with a flexitarian diet — primarily vegetarian with meat and fish occasionally.

At the moment, a vegan diet is often synonymous with healthy eating and no fast food. But some food producers want this to change. With so many people transforming to a ‘flexitarian’ diet, there is a new market for vegan fast food.  

It’s therefore possible that we will see more plant-based ‘meat’ in our supermarkets. An example of this is an innovation that Leonardo DiCaprio has invested in called Beyond Meat. This could come in the form of burgers or fried food. Expect to see other indulgent food too, such as extravagant vegan desserts.

New, plant-based proteins

Did you notice that smoothies were everywhere in 2017? Finely ground tea leaves, matcha and powdered super vegetables such as kale, spirulina and spinach have been popular too — their texture making it easy to add to soups, smoothies and salads. Registered dietician, Abbey Sharpe, explains their popularity: “I think people love a quick way to get in their healthy-eating fix, and powdered substances are seen as an easy way to pack in the nutrition.”

As part of this new fad, we could see more of plant-based proteins. One of the newest forms of this is pea protein which has many benefits including its neutral taste — making it favourable for regular consumption.

Heading to the garden

Following the announcement of Brexit, it’s possible that we will head to the garden to grow our own in a fight against rising prices. Brexit is already changing our views on food shopping. In April 2017, one in five said that they were more likely to buy British food after leaving the EU to support the economy. However, this was dependent on pricing, and if prices rise, many will go for cheaper alternatives.

In an incident in 2016, we saw fruit and vegetable prices soar as a result of unpredictable weather. Vegetable prices rose by 6.6% and this was explained by climate problems in Europe which led to shortages in some items. Can we risk facing these soaring prices again? Many think not. Instead, keen and amateur gardeners are heading to their back yards to plant their own plants and seeds and it’s expected that this trend will continue.

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