This year has seen growing demand for vegan-friendly food, great flavours from around the world – and lots of unicorn-inspired sparkle! Our Head Development Chef Mark Richmond writes about what could be on our plates in 2018.
Looking back on the last year, we’ve seen a huge demand for our everyday products to be accessible for different diets – whether that’s vegan, free from or meat-free. In 2017 we were the first retailer to stock vegan mince pies, a Christmas staple. It’s everyday products like this that have our focus for 2018.
Families these days are facing challenges at mealtimes, with veganism, meat-free, plant-based and free-from being common food choices and requirements which can mean some meals are more complex. Because of this we're commited to growing our ranges in the New Year.
Plant-based dishes have grown in popularity too over the past 12 months, and this looks set to continue into 2018. My big tip for this year is that ‘meaty mushrooms’ are set to take over from cauliflower steaks as the new must-have meat alternative, with their great texture and rich flavour.
Another key watch out for 2018 is that more and more customers want to know the story behind the food they're buying and where it's been sourced from. We’re starting to see a demand for specialist skills to be implemented in the development of food, like artisan breads or our distilled gin-infused ham for Christmas. We're going to continue to work closely with suppliers to ensure products of the best quality go on our shelves.
With the nation becoming increasingly aware of food waste, and scratch cooking still on the rise, meal kits have been a revelation to customers, with exact quantities of fresh ingredients included to make prepared cooking easier. These kits provide a great solution for smaller households.
While 2017 saw Asian street food spices inspiring our everyday dishes, 2018 can expect flavour inspiration from Korea, such as BBQ meats and Kimchi, and the Middle East.
With the rise of ‘brunch’ and ‘brinner’ as the nation's new mealtimes, eggs have already become the hero of our plates. High in protein and versatile egg-based meals, such as ramen, are set to continue cracking the nation’s tastes.
And finally, following 2017’s demand for all things unicorn, sparkle and colour, 2018 will bring even more!
Expect plenty of colour on your plate. We added lots of bright and magical products to our bakery and confectionary lines, like our Unicorn Cake pictured above, and we'll continue to roll out even more products using bright and exciting colours – so keep your eyes peeled!