Food and dining trends to watch out for in 2019

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The new year is on the horizon and after a great year for Bespoke.World, it’s got me thinking about what the next year has in store for the dining industry. I’ve been doing some digging to see what food and dining trends we can anticipate cropping up in 2019, and what restaurant owners should be on the lookout for in the coming year. 

Plant-based foods

According to a Food Navigator, plant-based alternatives are booming due to the growth of vegetarianism and veganism. This comes as no surprise to me, as more and more consumers are looking to be more responsible with their food buying habits, particularly when it comes to the environment as well as our own health. 

I believe the rising popularity of going meat-free is down to a few reasons, the biggest being social media influencers encouraging veggie or vegan lifestyle, and the other is down to being more environmentally conscious and considerate of animal welfare and the environment.  

According to Waitrose’s 2018 Food and Drink report, searches for vegan and veggie barbecue recipes on Waitrose rose by 350% during the summer of this year, with beetroot burgers and celeriac steaks being the most common searches. Not only this, but it seems consumers are redefining what it means to be vegetarian or vegan, with many people ‘dipping in and out’ of the lifestyle. “The lines between those who do and don’t eat meat are blurring. Half of consumers who say they’re vegetarian or vegan also eat meat ‘at weekends’, ‘occasionally’ or ‘on special occasions’.” 

I’m sure this massive growth in plant-based foods isn’t going to slow down anytime soon. As more people switch to veganism and vegetarianism not only do foods that cater to these diets become more accessible, there is also more demand for variation. I’ve already seen countless articles discussing a predicted rise in ‘masculine’ vegan food over the next year. As traditionally men are portrayed as avid meat eaters, the vegan food scene is currently working to create plant-based alternative that match up to more masculine food stereotypes. It’s new ventures in veganism like this that I think are going to mean plant-based continues to be one of the biggest food trends in 2019. 

West African dishes

Love exotic flavours and spicy native dishes? The Waitrose report also predicts the growth of native foods in 2019. “Native foods from countries like Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria and Mali are likely to rise in popularity across the UK next year, according to the retailer,” says Good House Keeping

Jonathan Moore, the executive chef at Waitrose & Partners, told Good Housekeeping that this is due to the fact that “West African recipes so often combine the ingredients, spices and flavours of foods we already love in the UK.” 

Moore also told Good House Keeping that this particular type of cuisine is great for one-pot cooking, which is likely to be popular with busy professionals and parents. “West African dishes can make an impressive but relatively straightforward family or entertaining meal. We're already seeing dishes such as jollof rice become popular in this country, and we see the real growth continuing in the coming years in home cooking, as more people discover interesting and exciting West African dishes." 

Bitter flavours

It seems the days of ordering a syrupy sweet cocktail at the bar could be falling behind us, as the Waitrose report also mentions that consumers are looking for more intense and bitter tastes and flavours not dominated by sweetness – which drinks like kombucha, shrubs and even no-sugar softs like Kolibri offer. 

"Bitter is the last of the flavour profiles to really have its moment," said Moore in another statement to Good House Keeping. "In recent years we've seen a surge in popularity of bitter flavours - from dark chocolate to Aperol Spritz to good quality coffee, or the growth in craft beers. 

It’s also not just limited to the drinks market either, says Moore. “It's something we see building further as people look to include ever more interesting tastes and ingredients in their cooking. In restaurants we're seeing chefs create charred dishes to add another depth of flavour to dishes." 

Dining in

Since the 2008 recession, dining-in has become as popular as dining out. And with advances in technology, companies have made it easier than ever to order your favourite restaurant dish straight to your front door. And not just pizza and Chinese food either – the growth of delivery services like Deliveroo and Uber Eats are enabling consumers to eat their favourite restaurant dishes in the comfort of their own homes. 

NPD Group has coined the term ‘virtual restaurants’, whereby consumers’ orders are catered for in an environment without actually having to be there. But this isn’t just beneficial for the consumer, as it also presents many opportunities for restaurant-owners too. “While they often trade from an industrial estate rather than a traditional retail location, virtual restaurants can also be run from under-used conventional restaurant premises. 

“A core appeal is that virtual restaurants can begin trading quickly, are relatively cheap to run and are flexible, aided by a lack of overheads such as dedicated retail premises and waiting staff.” 

Currently, Deliveroo has around 400 ‘virtual restaurants’, while Uber Eats aims for a similar number by the end of the year. Just Eat is just entering this budding market with a focus on ‘digital pop-ups’, which they launched in March earlier this year

To me, it is interesting to see just how much the decisions and trends of the consumer can impact a whole other industry. From the recession to the changing attitudes towards our health and the environment, consumers are driving dramatic changes to not just what foods we eat, but the way we eat them. I don’t know about you, but I am really looking forward to seeing what 2019 has in store.