Just like the fashion industry, the success of hospitality relies heavily on following popular trends.
Food has become the obsession of many: according to food ordering site Menulog, 54% of 18-24 years olds have taken a photo of their food while eating out, whilst 39% have gone on to post it online. 90 new photos hashtagged #foodporn are uploaded to Instagram every minute.
New trends from around the country and abroad are being shared every minute, meaning hospitality food fads are moving faster than ever before. Have you got your finger on the pulse?
We’ve trawled online and consulted the experts to bring you the major trends for 2017 that we think you need to know. Why not try some out this week?
Food with ‘active ingredients’
The term ‘active ingredients’ might appear more often on a tub of anti-aging moisturiser than they do on restaurant menus, but all of that is about to change. From take-away salads to 6-course degustations, customers and looking more and more for ingredients that can offer clear benefits to their health.
One great example has been the rise of fermented foods. Everything from kimchi to kraut, pickled vegetables to kombucha has gone from relative obscurity to front and centre in food fads. Fermented foods, as we now know, are crucial to promote gut health and maintain a digestive balance. Not a very glamourous thought, but now mainstream language in the world of hospitality!
Plastic containers, cutlery, and delivery bags are a thing of the past. Perhaps the stratospheric rise of food-delivery apps pushed brands to better their packaging – it is a highly competitive market – but these days, paper bags and biodegradable packing are the norm.
Sustainable presentation also extends to the in-house dining circuit. Rather than using baskets or serviettes to present certain dishes, what natural fibres can you use? Banana leaves or corn husks are a beautiful and interesting way to present food in a sustainable way.
Remember when there was only a handful of cuisines in your neighbourhood? We all grew up with the local Chinese, Indian, Italian, and Thai takeaway places – but these days, it’s far more complex. A big trend of 2017 is the dissection of these mainstream cuisines into micro-trends based on specific regions.
For example, Mexican food has found great success in recent years, but you can give it a modern twist by focusing in on a specific town or region. The city of Chiapas has a completely different focus than mainstream Mexican, preferring sweeter and milder flavours with little or no use of chilli.
Do your research and re-interpret specific aspects of a popular cuisine. It will attract the curious, and the serious foodies looking for their next addiction!
Cost effective luxury
Expensive food is becoming mainstream. Whilst green juices were once a status symbol of exclusivity, falling price points and making them a standard option, like a takeaway coffee.
Other exclusive food items like truffles, expensive cheeses, or expensive cuts of meat have filtered into mainstream foods – there’s even truffle potato chips now! – particularly in fast food. Local Japanese restaurants will offer Wagyu sushi, whilst cheap and cheerful pizzerias will load up a Quattro Formaggio pizza with top of the line blue cheese.
This year will see this trend flourish, with more and more consumers wanting to see old favourites give a luxe makeover, for a standard price. Think about what garnishes you can look to include that will feel luxurious, but not send your produce prices through the roof.
Yes, insects! Deep fried crickets, dehydrated ants, and roasted scorpions are finding their way out of exotic backstreet markets and onto the plates of everyday Australians. They are being heralded as the best new sustainable source of protein, far exceeding the health benefits of red meat, and saving the planet from the damage mass farming inflicts.
Squeamish? Don’t be. Even Sydney’s trendy inner-city eatery, Billy Kwong, serves up a variety of creepy crawlies. She maintains a selection of four or more insect dishes at any time, ranging from Cantonese fried rice with roasted mealworms, crushed wood cockroaches (”they taste like dark chocolate and coffee beans”) and a chilli-cricket sauce. And green tree ants, which are served live at the end of the meal.
Plant based or vegan alternatives
Here’s a fact you should take note of: Australia is the third fastest growing vegan nation in the world. And vegetarianism has almost doubled in the last 5 years. In 2016, Roy Morgan released a poll showing that the number of vegetarians in Australia has risen from 1.7 million people in 2012 to 2.1 million today – a rise from 9.7% to 11.25% of Australians.
Fair to say that plant-based options are no longer catering to a unlikely minority, for even those who don’t officially prescribe to a vegan or vegetarian diet will opt in occasionally, thanks to campaigns like Meat Free Monday.
Plant based alternatives are much better for your health, and with Australia still recognised as the fourth fattest country in the world, it’s up to everyone to start making the shift towards healthier options
Crickets and witchetty grubs aside, you’ll find that all the major food trends for 2017 are completely within your reach.
You can choose to adopt them in part or in full, trial them temporarily or even use them as inspiration for a new menu for the season ahead.
However you decide to use it, know that change and experimentation is what will keep your business feeling fresh and exciting – to both you, and your customers!