Food and Catering Trends for 2019

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Animal welfare, sustainability, and health are top of the food trend agenda for 2019, as Mike Hardman, Marketing Manager at catering equipment supplier Alliance Online, explains.

When it comes to food, fads can fall out of fashion as quickly as they come in. And while there’ll never be a shortage of crazy ideas with supposed health benefits, it is the longer-term trends in the food industry, not the often-short-term crazes, that show the real trajectory of where we are headed.

Fortunately, there’s good news: we are moving in the right di rection. While progress may be slow, we’re starting to understand the impact that our consumer habits have on animals, the planet, and ourselves. In this article, I’m going to explore the four biggest food and drink trends that will impact us all in 2019.

Veganism and Vegetarianism

It’s undeniable that Britain’s attitude towards meat is changing dramatically. In 2014, there were around 150,000 vegans in the UK, while in 2018 that number had jumped to 600,000 (Vegan Society). For that number to have quadrupled in just four years is a sign that people are becoming more informed about animal welfare and what goes on behind the scenes of food production. Campaigns like Veganuary continue to see incredible success year on year, with 225,000 people taking part in 2019, 55,000 more people than last year (Veganuary).

Even those that still eat meat are becoming more conscious of their decisions, choosing more meat-free options and animal product substitutes. Campaigns such as Meat Free Monday, which encourage meat eaters to only cut down a little bit, can have a great impact. It’s clear that this trend shows no signs of slowing down and, as more companies start servicing this growing movement, more viable alternatives will come to market. While many meat eaters won’t be convinced to shun meat entirely, there is the future hope of lab-grown alternatives. Though early in its development, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to see products like this become widely available at affordable prices in the next decade, and this could have a huge impact.

Sustainability

Ever since David Attenborough graced our screens in 2017 with Planet Earth II and highlighted the devastating effects plastic is having on our oceans, the issue of non-recyclable goods has become a top priority in the public consciousness. This idea remained a popular theme in 2018, with public outcry forcing many governments and businesses to signal their intent to stop using non-recyclable packaging in their products.

This has led to some rather interesting and innovative packaging ideas. For example, Waitrose is now stocking two new organic wines in recyclable cans, while Carlsberg is ditching the plastic rings and gluing its cans together. Walkers crisps has teamed up with TerraCycle to start a recycling scheme for its crisp packets, while McDonald’s has pledged to make all of its packaging from sustainable sources by 2025. With continued awareness driving an increase in demand from customers for companies to do more for the environment, this trend will only get stronger in 2019.

Wonky fruit & veg

With increasing pressure on the big supermarkets to reduce food waste, many are now looking at selling ‘ugly’ fruit and vegetables to their customers. This is produce that would usually be thrown away as it is considered to be imperfect, with as much as a third of any crop being disregarded for not meeting aesthetic requirements (Metro). With mounting environmental concerns, this approach is no longer acceptable to consumers.

Now, this is being echoed within industry itself, with many businesses now making new products out of misshapen fruit and veg that would otherwise go to waste, such as crisps and hummus. Other promising movements are coming from the big supermarkets, with Lidl selling boxes of wonky fruit and veg at reduced prices and Morrisons pledging to buy full crops from farmers. Searches for eco-friendly food increased steadily throughout 2018, and the idea of rescuing imperfect produce is sure to gain momentum this year.

Low or no alcohol

Aside from Veganuary, another popular challenge for the first month of the year is Dry January, in which drinking alcohol is curtailed for a month. British millennials are already drinking significantly less than previous generations, according to BMC Public Health, and this is a trend that continues to grow in strength. So much so, that multinational alcoholic drinks company Diageo has predicted that low and zero alcohol drinks will surge in 2019, with young consumers driving this shift (Harpers).

It seems that part of this trend can be attributed, at least in part, to an increased health-focus among younger people, with many now shunning the unhealthy effects of alcohol. A new demand for non-alcoholic versions of popular drinks is seeing companies change tack. One of these success stories is non-alcoholic spirit Seedlip, which was created as a direct response to changing consumer preferences and is now stocked in Michelin star restaurants around the world. Likewise, already well-established brands such as Budweiser, Carlsberg, and Heineken, among many others, are predicting further success in their alcohol-free ranges.

While many fads will come and go in 2019, these four trends will only continue to pick up pace as consumer knowledge and awareness of important issues increases. Whether it is animal welfare, the environment, or our own health, we’re slowly becoming more conscious of how we affect the world around us, and that can only be a good thing.

***This article was written by a guest contributor***