1. Brexit prompts a boost in ‘Best of British’ but could threaten recruitment
Emphasis on local, British ingredients and influences is set to be a key trend in 2017.
Recruiter The Change Group says the focus on Brexit will likely prompt “a renaissance in British food and ingredients”, with customers looking to support local, British producers and farmers.
This will also extend to wine, according to Paul Newman, RSM consulting’s head of leisure and hospitality.
Despite this, uncertainty around Brexit may hit recruitment, The Change Group warned, alongside an expected fall in consumer confidence as the global implications of a Trump presidency and Brexit negotiations set in.
The group offered hope that the government would chart a moderate course ‒ encouraging hospitality employment from the EU ‒ and Prime Minster Theresa May’s attempts to retain the UK’s status as a growing economy may even lead to a long-awaited cut in VAT, it was suggested.
2. Innovation: healthy and vegetarian options rise
Already popular, healthy eating options on menus, alongside veggie and vegan options, are set to soar in 2017.
Vegetables may even push meat off some plates entirely, according to international food consultancy Baum + Whiteman (B+M). Consumers on a wider scale are now said to be eating noticeably less meat, with vegetarian and vegan diets getting more respect, and pickling veg is set to continue its popular rise ‒ following on a trend arguably started years ago in London by chefs such as Tom Sellers and Grain Store’s Bruno Loubet.
Restaurants will likely provide more allergen-aware dishes alongside healthier choices too, as the NPD Group suggests that consumers are more inclined to perceive a venue as high-quality if they see these options on the menu (even if they don’t go on to order them themselves).
Consumers are still likely to be ‘creatures of habit’, however, and will welcome classics with a new or healthy twist rather than total unfamiliar change, says The NPD Group.
Despite this, bad news for health food bunnies everywhere: B+M has also declared that we may actually be at ‘peak kale’. Worry not though, as it’s only said to be gone in favour of another similar veg: seaweed (especially when used in increasingly popular dishes such as ramen).
The inevitable backlash has already started, however, in the form of restaurants attached to ‘artisan butchers’ and the ongoing nose-to-tail trend already hitting back against veggie-focused ventures.
3. Breakfast gets serious
Breakfast has become big business in the past few years, but 2017 is set to boost it even further, as it moves to brunch and the all-day space, becoming far more varied in the process.
B+M goes so far as to say that breakfast is changing completely, going from a “smooth foods” option along the lines of scrambled eggs, to a dish focusing on crunchy textures, such as fried chicken, crispy chorizo and coarse cereal.
Unsurprisingly, then, that breakfasts featuring strong flavours such as cheddar cheese, carnitas, pica de gallo and chorizo ‒ often in the form of international influences such as tacos – are also expected to rise.
Winning brands will also offer ‘portable’ grab-and-go breakfasts such as breakfast sandwiches, designed to appeal to the fast-moving Millennial generation, B+M said.
4. Spices surge ahead
This year is looking good for spices, according to McCormick & Company’s ‘flavour forecast’, whose research found that Middle-Eastern and global spices such as coriander, cumin, and fennel are expected to pop up in breakfasts and beyond
Cayenne pepper, caraway, saffron, lemongrass, ginger, cumin and cinnamon were also said to be on the increase.
The powerful flavours – alongside a melding of European and Eastern influences ‒ are expected to be used in ever more unusual ways, such as Persian ‘minestrone’, ash-e reshteh with beans, herbs, turmeric and flat noodles, shakshuka (made with fried eggs and spiced tomatoes) or in salads and even desserts (such as strawberries with pepper cream).
5. Desserts get weird
Last year saw the arrival of the Australian ‘freakshake’ in London – which has now moved to the States ‒ and desserts are showing no sign of slowing down.
According to B+M, “oddball ice creams” are set to be the story in 2017, including innovations such as London’s candy floss soft serves (soft vanilla ice cream scoops surrounded by halos of spun sugar candy floss).
The veggie trend will appear on all parts of the menu, too, as ice creams look set to see additions such as beetroot, sweet corn, pumpkin and sweet potato…
6. Prices under pressure
Wine and food prices are likely to mount in 2017, with most estimates suggesting the price of an average meal out could rise by as much as 10 per cent.
Couple this with a weak pound and post-Brexit uncertainty, and The Change Group reckons that domestic budgets will be hit hard, leading to a drop in consumers’ willingness to eat out, and a consequent search for better value and higher quality.
Overall, operators will need to more creative in their deals to keep the sector thriving, according to Coffer Peach, which suggested that a planned rise in business rates will add an extra burden to tenants.
Paradoxically, high- end brands could cash in, with The NPD Group citing groups such as The Ivy Café and Grill as an example of top quality models hitting the high street.
Customer loyalty will mean more than just good quality, however, with the rise in restaurant delivery also set to be a factor.
RSM and the NPD Group predict that instead of losing business to the “Uber-isation” of delivery groups such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats, winning brands will instead set up their own systems as a complementary service to keep existing customers loyal.
However, despite rising prices and squeezed UK consumers, The NPD Group also suggested that “a strong dollar and an unpopular US Presidency” would see more US tourists visiting the UK, allowing room for international innovation. Coffer Peach agreed, warning that cities – especially London – should be clear that they are ‘open for business’ and welcoming to outside investment.
Despite this, doubts were cast on the possible saturation of the fast-casual market, with David Coffer Lyons pointing out that “growth among some of the UK’s biggest F&B chains” is slowing.
B+M even asked: “Just how many fast-casual pizza chains or artisan hamburgers can the market support?”.
7. Design brings the outside in
Alas, a restaurant cannot thrive on new menus and great offers alone, with design experts Style Matters reminding us that design plays a key role in any given operation.
The Cheshire-based group (which has been involved in the design of recent high-profile projects such as London’s MNKY HSE and German Gymnasium, and Manchester’s Hotel Gotham) said the new year would be inspired by nature and rustic finishes, including materials such as wood, clay, marble, copper, velvet, leather and tweed, and countryside shades such as deep browns, reds and burnt oranges.
Hints of metallics on retro-inspired monochrome (with splashes of bright colour) were also expected to feature, especially including vintage-style furniture, metal accents and fixtures, and a return to vintage florals.