Illustration of an orange hand icon with cutlery

5 trends you have to know about for 2016

January 4th, 2016 by

If you’re passionate about food and drink, you’ll love exploring new flavours, experimenting with textures and casting your net wide for inspiration. Nothing stands still in the world of cuisine, so if you’re ambitious about your work and career in 2016 here are five big trends you have to know about.

Ours is an industry that never stands still. Consumers are demanding new products – and variations on old ones – at a relentless pace. We can never stop innovating, so keeping a firm focus on what it is our customers are likely to embrace is essential.

Here are 5 big food themes you should get familiar with for 2016. We’ve cut through the faddish and the fickle, so that you’ll be well equipped to dazzle at your next job interview, or in your next npd brainstorm.

  1. Clean, fresh, simple
  2. Up close and personal
  3. Contrasts, clashes and combinations
  4. Crafting your story
  5. The new healthy
  1. Clean, fresh, simple

microgreens upclose

This trend has is origins in the Nordic food movement, in which raw foods and foraged fruit and vegetables take centre stage. Think about natural ingredients that don’t clock up too many food miles. But this is more than a health trend, it’s about caring for our planet and stripping back unnecessary ingredients to reflect our desire for simplicity and transparency in an technologically noisy and complex world. And yes, this trend also plays to consumers’ desire for nutritionally power-charged ingredients.

Look out for:

  • Micro greens – rich in nutrients and grown sustainably
  • Insects – protein rich, and environmentally-friendly
  • More plant-based eating. Many consumers are eating less animal protein. Pret a Manger is trialling a veggie concept and London’s Grain Store puts veg first, meat second
  • Ancient grains: quinoa, amaranth, teff and kamut
  • Seaweed and leaves of root veg such as beets
  • Ways to minimise waste – and even to reuse it. Consumers will thank you for demonstrating your green credentials, so can you cut down on packaging? Take inspiration from zero waste restaurant Silo in Brighton, and WastED in New York, which serves up food created from waste such as veg peelings and stock from bones

gluten frre grains and seeds

  1. Up close and personal

A desire to be in closer control of not only what we eat but also how we eat it means food suppliers, brands and retailers must offer more opportunity for consumers to do their own thing, their way. Think about the restaurant move towards build your own burgers or pizzas with whichever toppings you favour. But now, customised food boxes and recipe kits that reflect your preferences move this idea from the restaurant into the home. And soups are the new juice, offering the chance to select your ingredients, your flavours, your preferred textures, and whiz them up however you choose.

Look out for:

  • Customised recipe kits and boxes
  • Pickles and condiments that mean you can customise all you like
  • Broth-based foods that lend themselves to creativity; people want to mix and match to suit their individual tastes
  • Salad bars that allow you to choose exactly what goes in to your bowl
  1. Contrasts, clashes and combinations

It’s no news that consumers are increasingly adventurous when it comes to flavour, and this has given rise to experimentation in combinations and pairings. See it in restaurants, but now also well and truly established on supermarket shelves. No doubt you have already tested out some combinations that might have once raised eyebrows and challenged the taste buds, but here are some ideas to get you inspired for the coming year. The term fusion food has been around a long time, and it’s as relevant now as ever, so here we’ve identified some of the world cuisines that are proving inspirational for this year. And don’t forget about colour combinations: eating with your eyes is ever important. Black rice, garlic and apples are all finding their way into dishes and on to menus; hugely effective when used in combination with other colours. Time to throw out the rule books.

Look out for:

  • Afro-Asian-American
  • Korean-Italian
  • Italian-Japanese
  • Explore hybrid indulgences, for example lavish cocktails and unusual desserts.
  • Tokyo is home to the first Michelin-starred Ramen restaurant, and its influence is widespread. Ramenrrito and ramen tacos take the fusion concept to a new level.
  • New pairings: hot and sour (kimchi); bitter and sweet; tart and bitter, for example try a burnt orange chocolate pot)
  • Turmeric, avocado, spirulina, beet leaves, watermelon and chrysanthemum are among the hot ingredients for 2016. Try mixing and matching for new effects.
  • Asafetida: a spice with Indian origins but now used more widely to create interesting flavour combinations, and tipped as another trending ingredient
  1. Crafting your story

KIMUCHI Korean pickles

The story behind your product can go a long way to creating authenticity, but it’s not just telling the story, it’s making sure that what you actually do and make is genuinely rooted in something with real substance. Whether that’s a tale of the processes you use, the artisanal skills employed, or craft techniques and flavours revived from a previous era. Consumers want truth, honesty and authenticity in both the product and the way it’s described and presented.

Look out for:

  • Fermentation applied to various ingredients, with kimchi leading the way, but also think miso, vinegars and sauerkraut
  • Smoking is another traditional process to shout about. But don’t limit yourself to savoury applications: charred fruits, burnt sugar and smoked honey are all on trend. Tea and seaweed are just two of the new ingredients now being used as the smoking agent.
  • Homemade, small batch preserves and condiments including marmalade (in a variety of flavour combinations), and spiced fruit sauces.
  • Extreme ageing: spirits, meats, butter and cheese. Not only taste good but have an impressive story to tell.
  1. The new healthy

Health is now about much more than natural, and it’s not just about being sugar aware and embracing free-from possibilities. Consumers are now looking beyond natural and towards nutrition. They want to power up and feel nourished by what they eat, so it’s not only about what you leave out any more, it’s also about what you put in. Fortification was originally applied to cereals but now you need to look at what you might add in terms of super-charged hero ingredients with highly nutritious properties. And it’s not just about physical health. There is increased talk of how ingredients can help improve mental health too.

Look out for:

  • Tree waters: not just coconut, but aloe, birch and banana
  • New proteins, often plant-based, including some grains such as spelt and kamut
  • Date nectar and maple syrup – naturally sweet with more flavour so you need less of them.
  • Eggs and oils are being explored in new ways as good fats are celebrated
  • Pre-chopped frozen fruit to fuel the ongoing juicing/smoothie trend PIC AVAILABLE
  • Cacao bars
  • Medjool dates
  • Dairy alternatives such as almond, soya and rice milk
  • Making more of the processes that protect the potency and advantages of the ingredients
  • Renewed talk of fibre; what it is and how to boost it
  • Golden berries as a superfood; Peruvian in origin.

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