15 food trends for 2018

Discover Good Food's hottest trends in food and drink for 2018, including meat-free burgers, alcohol-free spirits and more innovative ways to eat healthy.

Saag paneer in bowl

Want to read about the latest trends? See our guide to the top 15 food trends for 2019.

Over the last year, we've seen a wide range of food and drink trends reflecting changing attitudes towards health, community and the environment. We've seen a brunch boom, buddha bowls aplenty and of course, the avocado craze.

It seems 2018 is set to be a year of even more adventurous veggie and vegan cuisine while the rise of hyper-local cooking and exciting advances in technology take a firmer hold on British food culture. Wondering what to expect from the future of food and drink? Check out the BBC Good Food team's predictions for the coming year.

1. Gut-friendly food

Pickles in jar
With fermenting, pickling and preserving reaching the mainstream, our panel agree that gut health is set to be a big food trend for 2018. This includes probiotics like kimchi, miso and kefir and prebiotics such as onions, garlic and other alliums.

Want to learn more about preserving food and the health benefits of doing so? Take a look at our digestive health hub for all the latest recipes and research. Then, see our beginner's guide to fermented foods and try it for yourself. 

2. Booze-free beverages

Rhubarb cordial
Good Food columnist Tony Naylor cites non-alcoholic drinks as a growth area in the food and drink industry, and our supermarket forecasters say that health-conscious millennials are drinking booze less and less. Premium tonic waters with interesting flavours, non-alcoholic 'spirits' and botanical mixes are flooding in to fill a gap in the market. 

You could shop for booze-free drinks or make your own mocktails and fruity cordials at home.

3. Hawaiian food

Poke bowl
Poke bowls are everyday food in Hawaii – essentially sushi without the fussy presentation. Still relatively hard to find, even in London, next year they will likely cross over into the mainstream. These bowls are endlessly customisable and can be economical, too. 

Try our Japanese-influenced poke bowl for a fresh and filling lunch.

4. Timut pepper

5 ways with gin and tonic
We love exploring new seasonings and we're not afraid of hot spices. Timut pepper, from Nepal, is spiky, zesty – surprisingly grapefruity – and leaves a tingly residual heat on the palate. It's also been tipped by sous-chef.co.uk and supermarket giant Asda as being the next big condiment for 2018.

Try adding a sprinkling to gin & tonic to take this classic cocktail to the next level.

5. Specialised tea

Jasmine & ginger festive tea
Good news for fans of a cuppa – tea is even more popular than before. Sales of herbal and green tea, in particular, continue to rise for consumption at home, so it’s likely that the small number of tea ‘bars’ that we've seen popping up may also start to proliferate on the high street. People are beginning to think of tea with the same reverence as coffee for its many varieties.

Get to know your types of tea and become an expert on the perfect brew.

6. Hyper-local food

Foraging for apples
In the UK and many other countries now, there is a growing trend for dishes created with ingredients sourced within walking distance. One of the figureheads for this movement is Danish chef René Redzepi who is doing just that at his two-Michelin-starred Copenhagen restaurant Noma. Tony Naylor observes that at home, too, there are more and more "restaurants are applying a Redzepi-like sense of localism to their ingredients". 

Want to use your hyper-local ingredients in your cooking? See our beginner's guide to foraging.

7. Heme

Impossible burger
Not available to buy yet, heme – pronounced 'heem' (from the Greek word for 'blood') – is at the cutting edge of food science, and is a possible stepping stone to more environmentally sustainable meat alternatives. Tech-food start-up Impossible Foods are already using it to bring a meaty quality to their plant-based burger including, yes, the bloodiness of meat cooked rare. 

Find out what the Impossible Burger tastes like.

8. Plant-based protein

Avocado burrito bowl
With more and more chefs embracing ingredients such as tofu, tempeh and quinoa, veganism is on the rise. Food blogger Angry Chef  talks about redefined Indian cuisine (rich with pulses) as a growing trend, with restaurants taking dishes back to their plant-based roots with originality and mass appeal. There'll be more meat-free days in 2018.

Learn more about modern veganism and find out what a plant-based diet is, as well as how it affects your body.

9. Everyday food tech

Food tech
Having recently purchased Whole Foods, Amazon is now competing with a clutch of smaller outfits who specialise in delivering recipe kits to home chefs, which means an emerging trend is set to become even bigger. Tying in with this, the development of smart fridges will take the hassle out of ordering ingredients by snapping 'shelfies' of your food to keep you well-stocked. We can also look forward to more voice-operated gadgets such as Google Home and Alexa to record and order your shopping lists.

If you love hi-tech mod-cons at low prices, discover our pick of the best kitchen gadgets under £20.

10. South American cuisines

Purple potatoes on yellow wooden board
Mexican, Peruvian and Brazilian food along with Japanese-Mexican fusion could well be big this year. ‘Arepas’ [pronounced ‘uh-rey-puhs’, which are corn pizzas-come-muffins], chicha [‘chee-chuh’, a fermented maize drink] and chulpe corn [‘chool-puh’, used to make snacks] will be prevalent,’ says Georgina Lunn, Product Development Manager at Sainsbury’s. Quinoa and chia seeds have peaked, but purple potatoes, white and purple corn, black quinoa and kiwicha seeds are on the up.

Get your tastebuds in the mood and browse our Brazilian recipe collection

11. Foreign farming in Britain

Pandan in serving dish with shaved coconut
Luke Farrell from Dorset’s Ryewater Nursery, who has encyclopedic knowledge of Malaysian and Sichuan cuisines, is harvesting rare Asian plant varieties like som saa and pandan (Nigella reckons the latter is the avocado of 2018). Meanwhile, there’s sustainably farmed British tilapia in east London (growup.org.uk), with the waste produced used as fertiliser to grow veg. British farmers are even producing txuleton (pronounced chuleton), the Galician old ox or dairy beef that foodies go wild for.

UK pioneers include Andrew Barraclough’s farm near Penrith and the Lake District Farmers (LDF). 

12. The fourth meal

Two bowls with noodles, broth and meal on bamboo mat with chopsticks
Brunch, brinner, lunch... are you confused too? Now, we have a fourth meal to contend with. ‘We’ve been watching the fourth meal for months,’ says Jonathan Moore, Waitrose's executive chef. ‘We’re eating differently. We have breakfast for dinner, dinner for lunch – everything is less structured. The fourth is the final meal, which is normally a treat.’ So, four meals a day – if you have the appetite for it!

13. Nootropics

Bowl of turmeric powder
The health-conscious will be consuming nootropics – that’s brain food, to you and me – according to trends prediction agency Pearlfisher. Gut health is still a major focus but cognition may now start to take over. Look out for turmeric, salmon, eggs, dandelion greens and jícama (Mexican yam).

14. Craft butter

Butter block on knife
Grant Harrington, of Butter Culture, is elevating the humble yellow block. After a year of research into dairy fermentation, when he built a cabin on a farm in Oxfordshire, the ex-Fäviken chef started supplying butter locally. Now, his rich, buttercup-hued fat, heaped with naturally occurring diacetyl acid – the stuff that makes butter buttery – is omnipresent. Diners are eulogising it in restaurants from Sat Bains in Nottingham to London’s Bibendum.

Learn how to make flavoured butters for fun toast toppings or easy garnishes.

15. West African cuisine

Spicy rice in serving dish with spoon on board with peppers
Zoe Adjonyoh’s recent cookbook, Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen, about growing up eating grilled tilapia and gingery Scotch bonnet stew, has been influential. Thanks to her, ‘there is scope to show customers how to use different spices,’ says M&S’s Head of Food Product Direction and Innovation, Cathy Chapman. Additionally, Yeo Valley is releasing a limited-edition baobab and vanilla yogurt. 

Get started on your West African cooking repertoire with our smoky Jollof rice recipe

Check out other food trend guides...

The 10 best spirits to buy to stay on-trend 
25 foods you should try at least once
What our team are eating this week
10 food trends for 2017

Do you have a food trend prediction for 2018? Leave a comment below...

Comments, questions and tips

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20th Aug, 2018
The article mentions 'arepas' under South American cuisine. Arepa is an indigenous staple from Venezuela and Colombia and other countries in the Caribbean. Although made of corn, arepas are different to Mexican tortillas and other corn cooking from Peru, Brazil.
Joanna Barajas's picture
Joanna Barajas
25th Apr, 2018
In addition to West African cuisine, I might say that East African cuisine might be on the radar too. The Ethiopian spice, "Berbere" seems to be popping up more often in articles and on supermarket shelves in the US. It's a combination of 20+ spices, similar to a curry.
2nd Feb, 2018
Definitely agree with these trends this year. Add to add is the rise of simple healthy/organic foods. Vegan, anti-allergic recipes will hopefully rise this year due to a growing number of new illnesses and healthy conscious individuals.
ugrasen nayak's picture
ugrasen nayak
7th Jan, 2018
2018 will also feature simple home style food that seems to have been lost. As more and more working couples have less time for 'labour of love' and care less to cook at home. This is a craving and one relates to mothers or grandma's cooking. 2018 is also the year of home style simple food.
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