From fermenting to grazing and everything in between… Welcome to our take on the key food and drink trends you need to know about in 2021!
The Future is Fermented
Fermented foods have long been a menu staple in Asian countries, but we’re going to see a huge increase in the consumption of pickled and fermented foods in 2021 as more research links these foods to optimal gut health.
Whether it’s swapping the afternoon coffee for a kombucha, baking your own sourdough or topping your avocado toast with kimchi, fermented foods will be high on the list of healthy foods customers want to see.
Grazing boards dominated Instagram last year. Whether laden with delicious charcuterie or indulgent sweet treats the humble sharing platter was the real glow-up of 2020. Whenever we’re allowed back out into the wild again, most of us are going to want to be with friends sharing stories over drinks and delicious food.
The grazing board trend may fly in the face of the current need for highly individualised hygiene measures, but this casual approach to dining takes the pressure off the customer allowing them to sample a range of products at their own pace. Sharing food with friends will continue to be a priority for customers in 2021 and there’s still room for innovation. Think about mixing it up with high quality locally sourced produce, breakfast patisserie platters, or sushi and seafood sharing boards.
Eat More Plants
According to the Vegan society, Vegans and vegetarians look set to make up a quarter of the British population by 2025, and flexitarians – those who are interested in consuming fewer meat products – will make up just under half of all UK customers.
2020 saw most high street chains introducing or expanding their vegan offering, building on the success of Greggs Vegan ‘Sausage’ Roll in 2019. But it’s not only the savoury dishes that are getting an animal-free makeover. Krispy Kreme has just released a vegan version of their iconic Original Glazed Donut which is currently available to order online. Every major supermarket now carries its own vegan range, and we’ve seen a rise in vegan comfort food over the winter months – think Mac & Sheeze and BBQ Jackfruit Tacos. So, if your vegan offering is still a humble nut roast, now is the time to start adding some more creative plant-based dishes to your menu.
First, we had the flat white. Then came the caramel syrup, the switch to oat milk, and an eventual evolution into beetroot lattes. Ok, it might not have been quite that simple, but customers are becoming more adventurous with their drink choices – and more demanding too.
‘Drinks That Do More’ has been a growing category over the last few years, and we now expect more than just a caffeine hit from our beverage of choice. Ashwagandha, CBD, and turmeric have been making an appearance on drinks menus for a while now, and this year customers will want even more health benefits from their daily cuppa. The introduction of collagen into mainstream soft drinks and alcoholic beverages also holds great appeal for the image-conscious millennial market. Specifically targeting the female consumer, collagen drinks alleviate some of the guilt around consuming products such as milkshakes and alcohol, which would otherwise be seen as indulgent treats.
“People buy people, not products.” Never has this old sales and marketing catchphrase been truer than it is in 2021. Our worlds have all become smaller, and customers are finding themselves increasingly interested in the story behind the brands they support.
Family recipes and heritage dishes are a great way to add some personality to your menu. Whether it’s your Nonna’s lasagne recipe, your Mum’s pumpkin soup or the exact cookies your Aunty used to bake for you when you were a child, engage your customers in the story of the people behind your dishes.
If we’re going out in 2021, we’re going out-out, and we want it to be special. Now more than ever, going out to eat needs to be an event that gives us a night to remember. But this trend is not limited to premium offerings and fine dining.
Customers are craving interaction and experience, but most importantly something which they cannot replicate at home. Expect to see an increase in food theatre, with open kitchens and food being prepared or finished in front of customers. This will not only amplify the restaurant experience but also serve as a way to reinforce food quality and good hygiene practices.
The Localised Supply Chain
During the first lockdown of 2020, many of us rediscovered our local neighbourhoods again, whether that was visiting the local butcher for the first time in years or ordering our groceries from a local supplier. Adding locally sourced products to create an authentic and fresh menu can help to differentiate you from your competitors.
Sourcing good quality local food has traditionally been difficult for restaurants. Seasonality of produce plays a big part, and local sourcing can also add complexity to your supply chain – not to mention cost. However, localisation also brings benefits that can far outweigh these difficulties. Localising your supply chain keeps money in your community and purchasing from a local supplier means fresher produce alongside the environmental benefits of a reduction in transport. But most importantly, your customers will respect you. Highlighting locally produced ingredients on your menu shows that you care about the source of the food you are serving and that you’re conscious about its impact on the environment and your local community.
Thinking about how you can create your own incredible customer experience in 2021? Why not get in touch…