What’s ahead for the U.K. foodservice industry? After weighing in on the top emerging trends in the U.S., leading food research and consulting firm Technomic shifted its gaze to the U.K. market and sees these transformative food and restaurant trends for the coming year:
Trend 1. Alternative Diet Focus
The forthcoming allergen labelling requirements will fuel significant changes at restaurants, namely by compelling operators to be more transparent about the ingredients they use. We’ll see an increase in gluten-free, peanut-free and dairy-free options on menus over the next year, as well as more attention to vegan/vegetarian and faith-based diets. These changes may present a challenge to some, but those who fully embrace it have the opportunity to broaden their customer base.
Trend 2. Regional British Cuisine
Pride in regional cuisines is influencing restaurants across Great Britain thanks in part to the recent Scotland independence referendum. Operators are rediscovering rustic preparations and classic dishes of their area and menuing local flavours and ingredients. Restaurants are even showcasing regional British cuisines in other regions to further differentiate yet celebrate the varied cuisines and cultures of each nation in the U.K.
Trend 3. The Bold Life
Today’s consumers are maximising their foodservice occasions by seeking flavourful options on menus. Look for smoky and spicy flavours to lead culinary innovation, with inspiration found in U.S. regional Creole and Cajun fares, as well as the increased use of ethnic condiments, sauces and peppers that pack a punch. Bolder takes on barbecue—a trend that developed from the street-food movement and continues to gain steam—will incorporate global influences, particularly from Asia and the American South.
Trend 4. The Customer Knows Best
The National Customer Satisfaction Index’s reported decline in satisfaction at restaurants has operators working to make consumers feel more involved and appreciated than ever before. Count on chains to use a range of mediums, particularly social media, to obtain feedback on everything from where to open their next unit to what items they should—or shouldn’t—offer on menus. Additionally, expect operators to find new ways to cater to customers, such as making their online services more user-friendly and personalised to the individual.
Trend 5. Expect the Unexpected
Consumers’ constant demand for innovation is resulting in some unexpected changes to restaurant operations and menus. Restaurants—even established chains like KFC and Pizza Hut—are experimenting with major brand shakeups as a way to extend beyond their comfort zone and appeal to a larger audience, particularly Millennials and Generation Z. On the operation front, we should anticipate new prototypes and service styles and more technological advancements. On menus, expect more mash-ups (e.g., hybrid foods, mealpart crossover) that surprise diners and add twists to classic recipes, as well as new beer cocktails and kid-friendly mocktails that bring originality to beverage menus.
Note: This post originally appeared as a company press release.