This time of the year always gives rise to a flurry of food and drink predictions – what’s hot and what’s not. Connect Local and Scotland Food & Drink’s market intelligence team have sorted the wood from the trees and come up with five key trends that you need to know.

Whilst they won’t be relevant, or affect, all of you, they would be very much worth bearing in mind as you make your plans. Forewarned is forearmed, and businesses who capitalise on these trends will be ahead of the game.

Sea Veg and Eat It

In the last few years seaweed and algae have had a growing presence in food and drink but in 2019 we will go a step further. ‘Seacuterie’, sea vegetables and an increasing whole fish usage (‘fin-to-gill’) will help us reduce waste and create a more sustainable environment.

Fish butcheries, which use butchering techniques for fish that are normally applied to meat, are gaining popularity. On the back of the fish taco and poké popularity, seacuterie is perfectly placed to trend. Who wouldn’t fancy an octopus terrine with freeze dried peas, lemon gel and olive oil or a monkfish merguez, a refreshing monkfish and shrimp paté?

Fishmongers are becoming more adventurous and turning every part of the fish into a gourmet treat; high protein fish eyes, tilefish cheeks, collars and the hidden parts of trout heads and whole sardines.

Kelp is becoming the new kale as seaweed, algae and sea veg become popular for their natural sodium and protein content. Marsh Samphire is making its way into mainstream kitchens across Europe and could turn into the new green asparagus. Sea vegetables are a simple, but flavourful ingredient that is going to be appearing more frequently in gastronomy this year.

 

Hare Today, Game Tomorrow  

In our globally connected world where anything seems possible, there is a part of us that seeks a life more unrefined and untouched, where technology and robotics are confined to the realm of science fiction.

Harking back to a simpler age (real or imagined) consumers are looking for natural food, ethical fashion, clothes made from natural fibres and paraben-free cosmetics. We want to see menus with unwashed coffee, unpasteurised milk and wine without sulphites.

This refocus on wild produce opens up opportunities for a wider portfolio of meats, including elk, hare, deer and pigeon.  Increasing diversity in the food chain, less pressure on conventional farming methods and the perceived lack of antibiotics and hormones compared with some intensively-reared meats is attractive to the conscious consumer. Chefs are playing around with different meat cuts and preparations, offering customers more sustainable, creative and inventive dishes.

Traditional vegetable types like salsify, fenland celery and even the humble turnip are regaining popularity, ironically making the leap from TV and online recipes to supermarket shelves.

 

Past Present

Associated with the ‘Hare Today’ trend is a growing distrust amongst consumers for new health and wellbeing claims. This is leading to a focus on more traditional eating habits. Chefs are opening history books in the hunt for new (old) ways to excite and entertain diners.

Searching through the past for inspiration, ancient wisdoms and indigenous ingredients, there are more historically influenced dishes, prepared with modern techniques. Native Australian, Scandinavian and Canadian ingredients are all on the rise. At the same time, anti-inflammatory foods, herbal medicine, intermittent fasting and cleanses are becoming more and more popular in an attempt to find a new balance within the fast- paced life.

 

Smart Food Tech

Our desire to look to the past is partly driven by the pressure of contemporary life; a techno-centric society, more interconnected than ever before. How we live, eat and spend seems to be changing faster than ever.

Mechanical labour and automation are becoming real; the likes of burger-flipping robots and drones delivering straight to your door. We will be seeing more smartphone apps that will control our lives, from grocery planning, recipe ideas adjusted to personalised diets, to online grocery shopping and delivery applications.

 

Ghost Kitchens

Our contemporary, fast-paced work-life environment is having a seismic effect on gastronomy. The rise of home deliveries, from the likes of Deliveroo and UberEATS, has developed a new type of phenomenon: restaurants without customers, so-called ghost kitchens. A ghost restaurant is a food service business that serves customers exclusively through online food delivery. It is a fully-equipped kitchen without a restaurant or takeaway counter. 2019 will see an increasing number of restaurants in the UK that will establish outsourced virtual kitchens for home delivery services only, facilitated by third party delivery apps. With no need to interact with customers directly, ghost restaurants can offset the high cost of a delivery system with cheaper real estate and operations as well as benefiting from more effective insights into customers’ preferences.