With the industry slowly getting back to some sense of normality, a new report has revealed the hottest dining and social trends set to shape the industry as we enter into a very different world in 2022.
Through exploring the impact of the pandemic and consumers’ ever-changing habits, the report from foodservice provider Bidfood is designed to help operators navigate the changing market, adapt their menus and delve deep into the latest flavours and cuisines dominating the industry.
The main reasons people are going out for food and drink are all social or celebratory. This trend is all about how people are treating themselves and what it takes to make occasions that little bit more special – from decadent desserts, to experiential style dining and activities.
A focus on sustainability is continuing to grow – in fact, 3-out-of-4 people now actively try to lead an environmentally friendly lifestyle, as well as consumers’ continued desire for more ethical consumption.
The health trend continues to rise in popularity, but not in the ways previously talked about. 7-out-of-10 adults are proactively trying to lead a healthier lifestyle in new, unique ways and 8-out-of-10 people are consciously looking for menus with healthy options when eating out. As ‘healthy’ food is subjective, operators need to look at all aspects, from the classic less sugar or calories, to those 1-in-3 looking to reduce alcohol.
Consumers are more eager than ever to support the British economy – which is not surprising given the impact of the pandemic and Brexit. 56% of UK adults are actually making decisions on where to eat out based on the venue’s policy of sourcing British products and 86% of adults are choosing British cuisine more often than they did in 2019.
Over the last year, the ongoing travel restrictions drove many of us to seek adventure through different means, like food. This has resulted in consumers becoming more experimental with their choices. In fact, 6-in-10 people are now opting for venues that offer new and interesting cuisines, meaning it’s the perfect time for operators to tap into those ‘off the beaten track’ cuisines that are gaining traction.
Peruvian, for example, has a vibrant mix of exotic flavours built from Japanese, Spanish and Arabic influences. Scandinavian is well-loved for its simplicity and fresh ingredients, focusing on ancient cooking methods such as preserving, smoking, pickling and salting. Burmese, the most niche of the trends, boasts unique tastes with familiar formats such as noodles and curries. Pacific Rim highlights key dishes associated with health, such as fresh poke bowls. Filipino cuisines are the perfect combination of sweet, sour and salty flavours, appealing to all variety of consumer palates.
Catherine Hinchcliff, Head of Corporate Marketing and Insight at Bidfood commented: “This year we’re excited to see that the food and drink trends surfacing are all about adventure and experience, giving chef’s lots of scope for creativity. Unsurprisingly, consumers are looking for something a bit special on menus to look forward to, balanced against a clear desire to live a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle.
“For our 2022 trends, we’ve worked with CGA to run our own exclusive research, which not only surveys consumers, but also draws from the opinions of food influencers, as well as a Futurist. This means that we can help customers look further ahead, and future proof their menus.”
Rob Mannion, founder and CEO of b2b.store, said: “Just as e-commerce platforms designed for B2C businesses don’t quite work in B2B markets, the foodservice sector also has different requirements of e-commerce platforms when compared to its grocery counterparts.”
The early days of the pandemic saw b2b.store working with a number of foodservice wholesalers looking to pivot to reach new audiences or serve existing customers more flexibly.
“The lessons learned through creating those platforms – quickly and at a time of crisis – are now being integrated more widely into our b2b.store platform so we can offer a more tailored experience for foodservice customers,” says Mannion.
For example, b2b.store has introduced the ability to order by weight, rather than unit, for one of its UK-based fruit and vegetable wholesalers, while the company has also created a ‘parent:child’ ordering capability for a foodservice customer in the United States. This allows junior members of staff to compile orders but then requires a simple review and authorisation by a more senior team member before the order is processed. Along with b2b’s existing integration with Erudus, which provides food product data, these two innovations were created specifically for the foodservice sector and sit alongside the wider benefits of e-commerce, such as the ability to create and manage orders any time, any place; personalisation of customer communications; and the ability for field sales teams to place orders on behalf of end customers.
Crucially, the platform can be tailored to support the needs of foodservice customers of all sizes. For example, the free self-service set up is a risk-free way for smaller foodservice businesses to experience the benefits of e-commerce, while large multi-million pound turnover enterprises can benefit from higher levels of customisation and an array of more-complex features – including Live Chat, automated workflows, bespoke pricing and even personalised in-app advertising – using the same platform and infrastructure.
“The joy of this approach is it enables foodservice companies to provide an e-commerce solution that is tailored to meet the needs of their individual customers, but can be easily scaled, using the same infrastructure, as their business grows,” adds Mannion.
The UK’s number one pulses and grains brand, Merchant Gourmet, has released a range of individually quick frozen (IQF) packs to the foodservice and wholesale sectors.
The range includes Red Lentils, Green Lentils, White Quinoa and the latest edition Green Chickpeas, which are vibrant in colour and are sweet with a nutty crunch. Each pouch has been simply cooked and frozen, to provide a quick and easy ingredient addition to recipes.
Aimed solely at professional kitchens, each pack of ingredients needs no prep or soaking and offers efficient portion control.
The new operation will look to strengthen Merchant Gourmet’s proposition, increasing listings and distribution while supporting existing customers. Providing a simple and convenient way to create plant-based dishes within hospitality, the IQF grains can also be served hot or cold in any recipe.
Despite widespread closures due to the pandemic, restaurants have been continuing to diversify their offerings. Consumer interest in plant-based foods has skyrocketed over the past few years and many restaurants are tapping into this trend, offering a wider variety of vegan dishes on their menu.
The brand’s consistent YOY growth has seen Merchant Gourmet gain 40 per cent market share with its grocery retail range. As a proven leader in the market, providing high-quality pulses and lentils to customers, the brand is in a strong position to cater to OOH industries.
Merchant Gourmet has an appetite for change and will continue its mission to inspire people to eat more plants, by bringing vibrant flavour, colour and creativity to plant-based food.
Clive Moxham, Group Commercial Director at Leathams Ltd, comments: “After witnessing a rise in both veganism and grains amongst different consumers across the UK, we knew as a business that it was important to offer the foodservice and wholesale sectors a product that they can trust.
“Launching into a new industry strengthens our position within the plant-based category, showing our commitment to create simple, great-tasting products that are of a great standard in the industry.”
“We want to make plant-based food accessible, convenient and simple to use so that restaurants and cafes can inspire their diners to eat more plant-based foods.”
Merchant Gourmet’s IQF packs will be available across the UK in packs of 400-500g.
Matthew Grenter, Sales Manager, Brioche Pasquier, comments: “The staff and supply issues facing the hospitality industry are well documented. Wholesalers can help operators cope at this difficult time by stocking up with products that help them overcome the challenges. Expanding and developing the range of frozen desserts is one way for wholesalers to offer chefs the opportunity to save preparation time and ensure a consistent supply.”
Quality is key, and Brioche Pasquier’s Symphonie Pasquier range of frozen pâtisserie is designed to offer chefs a truly premium alternative to desserts made in-house. The pastry items freeze beautifully and operators benefit from a high quality, on trend product that cuts both expenditure on ingredients and high levels of waste, and vitally, saves on time and expertise in the kitchen.
“Our Macarons did extremely well during lockdowns, and demand has continued to rise as the hospitality industry returns to normal service,” adds Grenter. “As the staff shortage continues to bite, operators will increasingly be looking for good quality, time efficient options that will help them meet demand.”
David Bone, Foodservice Channel Manager, Weetabix, comments: “Health will always be a focus for us here at Weetabix. Here at Weetabix, we’re passionate about providing our consumers with the ‘Weetabix Advantage’ every morning when they sit down for breakfast, giving them the strong start that only a proper breakfast can do.”
Now more than ever, consumers are still looking for a convenient and nutritious breakfast to give themselves a head start to take on the day, whatever that looks like.
“Catering for people in the morning can be a tricky business,” adds Bone. “Health will come back to the forefront in the months ahead. There will be more looking to lose weight following their lockdown diets, whilst improving general health and immunity will be a focus – 80% say they will make greater attempts to stay healthier because of Covid-19.”
Weetabix Original is a low sugar, high fibre cereal. It is low in salt, fat and sugar to aid a balanced diet, fortified with vitamins and iron, and CQUIN compliant.
“Consumers returned to cereal during lockdown because of its versatility – it’s quick and convenient but can also be personalised with additional toppings and different milks, which taps into the trend for personalised breakfasts,” says Bone. “This is a great option for caterers to allow consumers to customise their breakfast cereal in the months ahead.”
Ready brek is the number one porridge in the catering sector and especially in care homes, because its super smooth texture makes it easy for those with conditions like Dysphagia to swallow.
Easy to prepare and CQUIN compliant, Ready brek porridge is made with 100% wholegrain oats to give residents a nutritious, warming start to the day. It is also a source of Vitamin D for a healthy immune system. Ready brek is available in portion or bulk packs to meet varying volume needs of caterers. There will be a big burst of activity and promotions for Ready brek in the new year, with the cold weather ensuring it’s the ideal time for porridge.
The new year will also see additional marketing support for Weetabix Food Company’s ‘Everyday Favourites’ range – including Weetaflakes, Fruit and Fibre and Malt Wheats. These offer trusted Weetabix quality and offer great value – they also come individually boxed for display or for bulk use on buffet breakfasts.
The Weetabix Food Company has seen a significant increase in demand for portion packs in the past few months, especially with care home caterers looking for convenient ways to meet food needs for patients.
The Weetabix Food Company offers a range of trusted products in portion packs to help caterers satisfy convenient individual servings, regulate portion control and provide lower volume service. The cereal portion pack range already includes Weetabix, Ready brek and Alpen Muesli, as well as Weetabix Food Company branded products.