What’s Hot? Food Trends 2013
Think Scandinavia, buttermilk, kids and ‘eater-tainment’ – no not a trip to Ikea – these are the main trends influencing foodservice this year.
In their ‘What’s Hot in 2013’ chef survey, the National Restaurant Association found that locally sourced foods and children’s nutrition are the leading trends in 2013. Over half of the chefs surveyed said they will continue to make an effort to adjust dishes and recipes so they are more healthy. With health and the economy being concerns for consumers this year, dishes are also healthier and all-inclusive menus to accommodate all types of diners – vegetarians, vegans, kids, gluten-free, wheat-free and eco-conscious ones – are becoming prevalent.
Mintel predicts the use of clever menu tactics this year, such as smaller steaks and ‘premium’ chicken to deflect from high ingredient prices. The importance of continued innovation in an outlet’s beverage offering is also key, according to their 2013 Foodservice Trends Predictions. Gourmet cocktails, craft beers and super-nutritional juices and smoothies have heightened expectations – meaning the bar has to be further raised to achieve growth this year. The Food People have recently released the ‘Food Watching 2013 food trends bible,’ where they look at the macro and consumer influences on food trends. They identify global influences together with societal, health and political influences on food.
Food trends this year are heavily influenced by foreign cuisines. Scandinavia is affecting gastronomy on a global level and is the lead trend influencer. It isn’t its indigenous cuisine that is setting trends, but its modern food scene, techniques and approach.
Preserving by salting and pickling is typical in Scandinavian cooking, together with low cooking temperatures and lighter, subtle flavours.
Brazilian food is also expected to be popular in 2013 with Brazilian BBQ and Rainforest foods, their lighter eating and more subtle flavours becoming fashionable.
Cuisines affecting Foodservice
Key influencers that the report highlights for foodservice are American, contemporary British, Korean and Spanish food.
Nostalgic American comfort food is rising in popularity – think gourmet hot dogs, next generation burgers, pizza and flat bread and fire charred and smoked food. As Catherine Hanly, editor of the restaurant website HotDinners.com noted, ‘all things American are going to be huge this year.’ Andrew Balazs of New York restaurant ‘The Standard’ will open in London this year, as will Keith McNally in Covent Garden with his ‘Balthazar’ brasserie. The Mexican brasserie ‘La Esquina’ is also set to open. Seafood from The Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, milk shakes from Shake Shack and burgers from the chain Five Guys hope to continue their success in America with London launches. British cuisine is set to see re-invented and modernised classics, regional ingredients together with seasonality and modern gastro fine dining. New brands bursting on to the scene this year are Bumpkin and Union Jacks which both offer British Cuisine with a contemporary twist. One of the hotly tipped ‘chefs of the year,’ for 2013, Tom Sellers opened Story in February. Story is a restaurant inspired by the history of England with one dish on his menu being Bread and Dripping – a dish incorporating beef fat, bread, veal tongue and horseradish. The rise of modern everyday Spanish food together with the upsurge of Tapas as an eating concept will prove important, with fine ingredients such as Jamon Iberico being popular.
Ingredient trends that the bible identifies for this year are big cuts of meat, river fish, bugs and buttermilk, heritage vegetables such as tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, chilli, Yuzzu and beetroot. Forgotten herbs such as sorrel, lovage, rose and elderflower are also set to feature in dishes in 2013 as are gluten free flour blends, flat breads and popcorn.
Experiences – ‘Eater-tainment’, Urban food and Wellthy
A major new trend for 2013 as identified by The Food Bible is food experience, where food appears in new and hybrid contexts to provide a heightened consumer experience and to entertain. The term, ‘eater-tainment’ has been coined to describe this trend and includes food with music and experiences such as bringing the consumer closer to food by serving it on farms, in fields and in breweries.
Urban eating is on the rise too – especially in East London and New York where street food, cart and pop up catering is an accepted and popular form of food retailing.
An example of ‘eater-tainment’ is the restaurant ‘Bounce’ in London. Known as the home of ping pong, the restaurant mixes eating with playing table tennis and has successfully generated a real buzz and eating experience.
The blur between wellness and health has created a new food trend: wellthy! The Food Trends Bible has found that consumer attitudes to health and wellness can be variable and short term and be impacted by the day or week, season or even event, meaning people’s health mood can be ever changing. The report claims this is to be reflected in food trends this year, by caterers focusing on gluten free and wheat avoidance, healthy kids alternatives and the offer of more vegetarian options for flexible Vegetarians – ‘flexetarians.’
The Food Bible has found that natural food is big this year. This is where food is simpler, less prepared and more in-tune with nature, with flavours and processes that occur naturally being used together. Nobu in London is an example of a restaurant that adheres to this principle with its natural Japanese food. Foraged foods are predicted to become more popular and naturally occurring flavour combinations are set to be the order of the day. See our article on spring foraging.