Some years we try to predict what we’ll do in the months to come. This year, we’re sticking our necks out and looking at what might happen in the world of food in 2019. Think we got it right? Let us know.
Let’s hope 2019 sees the end of restaurants offering sharing plates. While I have a motto that ‘sharing is caring’, when it comes to plates of food, I’m not a fan. It often means having to order more than one dish, as one is never going to satisfy a table of three to four, and if you’re dining with people with hungry appetites, it often means that when your bill comes, it’s often far more than you would pay for a two – three course dinner.
Sadly, I predict the reliance on foodbanks for many more people. The Trussell Trust runs a network of over 420 foodbanks, which work out of more than 1,200 centres across the UK and provide emergency food to people referred for support. In the last year their network gave 1,332,952 three day emergency food supplies to people in crisis. The inability of benefit levels to cover essential living costs and issues with payments remain the most common reasons for referral to a foodbank. The minimum five week wait for a first Universal Credit payment, experienced by those moving onto the new benefits system, has only made matters worse.
The charity relies on voluntary donations to support its network of foodbanks to provide essential emergency food, offer additional support to tackle the underlying causes of someone’s crisis, and campaign for change to structural drivers of foodbank use. So in 2019, everytime I shop in a supermarket, I’ll be buying some extra produce to drop into the foodbank bins, often situated at the end of the aisles.
The last few years has seen an increasing focus on sustainable, local produce. With Brexit looming, I think that will becoming even more common. Restaurants, large and small, will have to work even harder to make a profit, making the best of what’s cheap and local. There’s an argument that this is a good thing but if consumers continue to expect to get food cheaply, it’s a hardship for restaurants. I think we’ll see prices go up in restaurants as well as in supermarkets.
A diametrically opposed trend from the last few years is increasing access to exotic ingredients: konjac, doenjang, tempeh, teff… I think the sharp rise in plant-based diets provides some of the demand for these items. But we’re also hungry for novelty, travel the world and have adventurous palates. It’ll be interesting to see how that trend interacts with our new boarders over the next few years.
Rum (and rhum) is on the up. Gin’s not finished but I rum is gaining traction. I look forward to my first rum master class: it’s just a matter of time.
I don’t have my finger on the foody pulse as much as I used to, but I expect we’ll see much more from the free-from and vegan trends.
I think climate change will be a driver, with more evidence published on the importance of reducing our meat and dairy consumption. But the market will likely anticipate consumer demand first, with an increasing number of animal alternatives appearing on supermarket shelves. My biggest prediction is that many of them will be far more palatable than ever before, thanks to developments in taste and texture.
But I’m not just referring to tofu and meat substitutes: we’ll see more and more dishes on restaurant menus created without meat, and they’ll be just as delicious in their own right. I think this will draw more consumers in to try something new and beneficial for the environment. It will contribute to a change in perceptions about our dietary needs, too.
Of course, another driving force pushing consumers to try something new will be Brexit. I’ve not exactly got my finger on the political pulse either, but I think it’s safe to say there’ll be some changes to our food landscape whatever the outcome of this horror show. Price points and availability will both be in the spotlight, so get ready to adapt your weekly menus at home.
Do you have predictions of your own? We’d love to hear them.