Just what food trends are the UK interested in at the moment, and what have we got ahead of us for 2017?

Catering equipment specialists Nisbets ran a survey across 1323 catering providers and restaurants to find out just what the New Year will have in store for us.

The survey was able to highlight some really interesting food trends that are on the move and ready to land in 2017, giving an insight to catering professionals and how they can stay ahead of the game (And competition!)

The majority of respondents came from a restaurant background (18%), café (17%) or pub/bar (15%). Other respondents were from fast food or takeaway businesses, contract catering, hotel or guest accommodation, alongside residential or care home or public sector.

Respondents were asked:

What evolving food/industry trends are impacting your company?

Of those asked, 363 responded with a contribution. The results of which are below…

Gluten free diets and food allergies (13% of answers)

A large percentage of the survey respondents noted they’d seen a shift towards requests for gluten-free options, alongside the accommodation of other diets.

Some mentioned parents’ concern for their children’s allergies and food intolerance. Others mentioned that specialist diets related to faith, cultures and allergies were becoming more recognised and accommodated. Some individuals were using it as an opportunity to produce gluten-free products to accommodate a new market.

Others were more negative about food allergies and free-from diets, stating “we get a new one nearly every week” or simply suggesting that an intolerance to gluten was becoming a “fad” or “trendy”.

Health food and healthy alternatives (8% of answers)

From ‘clean eating’ to concerns about the levels of salt and sugar in foods, it looks like health food is more popular than ever before, with respondents keen to cite healthy eating as a trend influencing their business.

Some noticed this preference in breakfast in particular, and those working in the public sector noticed an inclination towards health food in schools.

The response from caterers and restaurateurs was strongly focused on this being an opportunity, noting that their introduction of “healthy choices is definitely a good move.”

Local products and food quality (8% of answers)

Consumers are now becoming increasingly interested in where their food comes from and have a huge interest in locally-sourced ingredients. Some mentioned the Buy Local challenge as a cause for this. Other respondents had noticed even more of an interest in a product’s beginnings, with requests for “organic” or “ethically-sourced” food too.

Alongside an interest in locally-sourced products, respondents had noticed an increase interest in the quality of the food that customers had grown to expect.

Whilst some people refer to the preference as “high expectations of presentation or variety”, others noted a higher interest in “sustainability” and “where food comes from”.

Vegetarianism and veganism (5% of answers)

5% of those who provided an answer to this question mentioned the increase of vegetarianism and veganism as being a key industry trend.

Many commented that this was an opportunity for their organisation, especially if their business was already involved with providing healthy food. Some of the comments included “people becoming more aware of a plant-based diet and its health benefits”, showing the choice seems to be for health as well as principle.

One respondent elaborated even further, commenting that more customers are growing “tired of the burger culture.”

Street food (5% of answers)

Street food has been popular for a while now – and it looks like that’s going to continue into 2017. Lots of respondents mentioned “street food” as a trend influencing their market – some saying street food was giving them more competition, others said it was making customers keen to try new products. If they were working in street food already, they found it advantageous to their business.

Increased interest in new and innovative products (5% of answers)

It is important to note that respondents of the survey commented on their market becoming increasingly interested in new and innovative products.

Some commented that customers themselves were looking for “new food trends” or expected “creativity” from their dining experience. Others said customers’ “education” about food in general was more apparent.

Whilst some appreciate customers’ “willingness to try other things”, others remarked that this was more a case of being interested in “fads” and encouraging “unrealistic demands” in customers.

Coffee Culture (4% of answers)

It seems like the coffee culture in the UK is just as popular as ever, with many respondents mentioning the popularity of coffee shops and speciality coffees as trends that are impacting their business.

Whilst some respondents noted that coffee culture was having a negative impact on their business, due to the “increased competition from coffee shops”, others simply remarked on customers’ increasing discerning tastes, whether it’s for “fresh coffee beans” or specifically “latte coffee.”

Worldwide food (3% of answers)

It looks like people are getting more adventurous when it comes to the type of food they want to try. The respondents of the survey mentioned an “increasing diversity and quality” naming cuisines from “Sardinian fine food”, “Mediterranean food”, “American dining” and “Nordic food”.

Interest in a relaxed dining experience (3% of answers)

Respondents were keen to mention a more relaxed dining attitude as being a notable food trend. This food, described is the “casual dining scene” and “pub food” has encouraged respondents to make good quality food that’s also accessible to many people. Some examples were “burgers and beers” and “tapas”.

Alcohol (3% of answers)

Respondents mentioned an increased interest in alcohol as being a developing phase – with particular reference to how it’s made and its quality.

Increased interest in the “fermentation process” in particular was mentioned, including a revived interest in the traditional processes. “Craft beers” in particular were referenced, alongside the increased levels of bar snacks.

In addition to craft ales and beers, respondents also mentioned an increased interest in gin.

Specific food and ingredients

Ice cream

Respondents cited ice creams as a popular trend, with examples including ice cream parlours and adult alcoholic ice creams.

Cakes and Afternoon Tea

Several respondents noted an increased interest in Afternoon Tea, including traditional scones and Afternoon Teas, as well a healthier options like “naked cakes”. The Great British Bake Off was noted as one of the potential causes of this.

Pulled meats

Pulled meats and American-style BBQ food – with particular reference to pulled pork – were also noted as being a popular food trend.

Other foods mentioned:

  • Smoothies
  • Cauliflower rice
  • Game
  • Steak