Here are all the biggest food trends you can expect to see in 2020, from the delicious to the wacky. Tony Naylor explains the trends everyone will be talking about.
From pea milk to salmon pastrami, Filipino BBQ to gorse gin ice cream, Tony Naylor suggests you pour yourself a hard seltzer, buckle up and get set for a roller-coaster ride into the food future.
1. Low-sugar chocolate
'We've seen a big increase in dark chocolate's value sales. People see it as healthier – higher cocoa, lower sugar content,’ says Emma Weinbren, features editor at The Grocer. That benefits ethical dark chocolate makers such as Doisy & Dam, while – possibly to deter any ‘snack tax’ – big brands like Nestlé (who have launched Milkybar Wowsomes) and Cadbury (30% less sugar Dairy Milk) are also innovating hard in the reduced-sugar realm. Emma adds, ‘They see that as a real area of development.’
2. Food halls
New communal dining venues like Market Hall West End and Macclesfield (the latter opened by Altrincham Market House creator Nick Johnson) are huge spaces flanked by multiple street-food kitchens – a trend set to explode in 2020. In London alone, there’s the arrival of Eataly and Market Hall Canary Wharf, with Time Out Waterloo due in 2021.
3. Local, seasonal 2.0
From the botanical garden at Jamavar in Mayfair to the garden-to-plate ethos at The Pig, chefs are finding their inner Monty Don and growing their own produce. With ‘dug today’ spuds and ‘picked today’ berries, Booths supermarket has caught the bug, too. ‘We’re interested in the environmental impact of growing and transporting food. An exciting result of this is a resurgence of artisan growers cultivating interesting varieties like monk’s beard and salsify. I see 2020 being a big year for beautiful British vegetables,’ says Dan Fletcher, chef at new Somerset restaurant 28 Market Place.
4. Shopping unpacked
Pick ‘n’ mix frozen veg, pasta dispensers and tap beer are being rolled out by Waitrose in four stores in a bid to go plastic-free. At their Oxford Botley Road store, unpackaged products are outselling their packaged rivals and 90% of shoppers say they are happy to bring along refillable containers, bottles and bags to carry their shopping. Phase two of Waitrose Unpacked will be announced in spring, while the northern supermarket, Booths, is simultaneously trialling entirely loose fresh produce in two stores. Unpackaged retail has its challenges; it is more costly for retailers and difficult for some shoppers. But with politicians, the public and independent, zero-waste grocers such as The Clean Kilo (in Birmingham and Bourneville) exerting pressure, unpackaged food will be one of 2020’s big stories.
5. Attack of the bar snacks
With the growing trend for small plates, restaurants are boosting their bar snacks. In London, try chicken oyster bocadillo at Sabor or lamb belly fritters at Gridiron while in West Yorkshire, get godlike crispy smoked potatoes at the Moorcock Inn.
6. The unstoppable rise of plant food
Unilever-backed Dutch brand The Vegetarian Butcher recently launched its soy sausages, burgers and nuggets in Tesco. At both a micro and macro level, meat-free eating is a trend which, says April Preston, director of product development at M&S, ‘has shown absolutely no sign of slowing down. Our customers are adopting flexitarian lifestyles and we’ve a pipeline of new plant-based products planned, including a no-chicken Kiev.’
With Tom Kerridge’s Bull & Bear and hip Cultureplex newly opened, plus Restaurant Mana now with a Michelin star, Manchester’s food scene (see also Kala, Mackie Mayor, Sugo Pasta and Refuge) will attract even more gastro-tourists.
8. Pea milk
The name will have kids in stitches, but this, made from yellow split peas, is the next big plant milk, predicts senior Ocado buyer Anthony Sharpe, because, ‘it has one of the lowest environmental footprints’.
9. Frozen food hotting up
The new Hempstead Valley M&S has a freezer section 75% bigger than usual with 291 lines, because, says April Preston: ‘We’re seeing new challenger brands and convenient no-waste options that make it more appealing. American supermarkets have everything from chopped garlic cubes to entire meal kits in their freezers.’
From kitchen store Lakeland, with its cherry blossom baking moulds and sushi platters, to Ocado’s new range of imported Japanese products, our fascination with this cuisine continues to grow. ‘We’ve seen a slow influx of Japanese techniques and ingredients and, in 2020, we’ll see this a lot more,’ says Adam Smith, the yuzu- and wagyu-loving chef at one-Michelin-starred Coworth Park.
11. Gut feeling
M&S is focusing on ‘digestive wellness’, with a wider range of probiotic food and drink beyond kefir and kombucha. ‘There are probiotics in everything – we’ve even tried probiotic crisps,’ says Emma Weinbren. ‘In March, we got stats from Kantar that more than 40% of kefir is consumed by over-65s. People think it’s a cool millennial drink but it’s the older generation driving it.’
12. Levantine love-in
With Moroccan Kitchen, Turkish Delight and Chicken Shawarma courses selling out at its cookery schools and sales of sumac and za’atar spiking, Waitrose reckons more of us will be cooking North African and Middle Eastern food at home. Its senior development chef Zoe Simons credits the ‘winning blend of spice, heat and sweetness. Home cooks will soon think nothing of whipping up baba ganoush or tabbouleh.’
13. Sizzling Filipino BBQ
A riot of bright, hot and sweet flavours (think pork skewers marinated in soy, chillies, sugar, garlic, banana ketchup and even lemonade), Filipino barbecue has been on the launch pad for a while now. But, the appearance of BBQ Dreamz on BBC Two’s My Million Pound Menu last year, has given it lift-off, says Restaurant Magazine editor Stefan Chomka. ‘Known for its duck heart skewers and crispy pork belly, BBQ Dreamz is likely to leap from street food to bricks and mortar in 2020 with a nine-month residency at a new site on Hackney Road. It will be under the banner “BBQ Dreamz presents Bong Bong’s Manila Kanteen”. Sarap Filipino BBQ, which has wowed people with its pop-ups, has a six-month residency in Brixton Village, too. Filipino BBQ will fly this year.’
14. Adult ice cream
Be it the foraged gorse flower gin flavour, new this spring at Jannettas Gelateria in St Andrews, or the goat’s cheese scoop with liquorice sauce at Sabor in London, ice cream has never felt so grown-up.
15. Stellar sandwiches
In 2009, London sandwich shop Tóu had runaway Insta-sucess with their £14 Iberico katsu sando; a Japanese-style sandwich of panko-crumbed pork neck fried in lardo, with cabbage and raspberry brown sauce. Now, from new King’s Cross outfit Sons + Daughters to Edinburgh’s Bross Bagels, the stage is set for a wave of next-level sarnie action. Adam Byatt, chef at Clapham-based Trinity restaurant forsees that ‘2020 will be the year of the sandwich. I’m looking forward to proper artisan bread sandwiches, handmade with well-sourced ingredients.’
Chefs are raving about Josh Niland’s fin-to-tail ethos explained in The Whole Fish Cookbook (£25, Hardie Grant). ‘Everyone’s going to be trying all manner of sea offal,’ says Aarik Persaud, of Heritage in Soho. Key to it is so-called ‘seacuterie’; yes, charcuterie for fish where it is dry-aged or cured to intensify flavour. Chef Tom Brown has also been inspired, serving salmon pastrami, sea bass ‘hams’ and monkfish bresaola at Cornerstone.
17. 2020's essential ingredients
Lello Favuzzi, chef at London’s Mortimer House Kitchen, is hot on the ‘stronger flavour’ of black tahini, while Vivek Singh, owner of the Cinnamon Collection restaurants, is tipping fenugreek seeds as the new turmeric, confident that ‘bitter tastes will be sought after in 2020’. Meanwhile, Mark Perkins, executive pastry chef at Rosewood London, is fascinated by prebiotic dietary fibre, inulin, ‘a zero-calorie chicory extract’ that can add texture and some sweetness to baking.
18. Taste not waste
In modern kitchens and the food industry at large, there is a growing awareness of the need for sustainable, no-waste ingredients. Dash Water use ‘wonky’ British produce in their drinks while Rubies in the Rubble do the same with their condiments, and a similar mantra is fuelling ‘a plethora of new, innovative products, says Domini Hogg, founder of specialist food distribution platform, Tried & Supplied. ‘We’ve seen a real trend in snacks, drinks and sauces that use surplus foods, such as Urban Cordial’s surplus fruit cordials or Sea Chips’ healthy, crispy salmon skin snacks.'
19. Whey to go
Food producers such as Cumbrian bakery Lovingly Artisan and Black Cow vodka are making the most of whey – a waste product of cheesemaking. ‘It’s super-flavoursome and sweet,’ says chef Tommy Banks of The Black Swan. He uses raw milk whey to make ricotta and also loves it in ‘simple, acidulated butter sauces’ or reduced and caramelised to make Scandinavian-style brown cheese, which he describes as ‘like a salty, savoury version of Caramac’.
The science is inconclusive, particularly in relation to food and drink containing low doses, but CBD (or cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive cannabis plant extract, touted for its potential to alleviate pain and anxiety) is a hot ingredient. It’s available in a variety of forms including gin, hummus and ice cream. ‘Every week, we get sent a new sparkling CBD drink,’ says Daniel Woolfson, drinks expert at The Grocer. Find out more about CBD oil and whether it's safe.
What else to look out for...
Whether it’s compostable coffee pods and bamboo egg cups from the Eden Project, washable sandwich bags from Russbe or the latest eco-friendly products from Lakeland, the desire is strong to eradicate disposable plastics.
Good Food writer Anna Lawson says, ‘We’re seeing lots of reusable water bottles and innovation in reusable coffee cups.’ Banishing cling film is another priority, with washable fabric and silicone bowl covers being a big growth area. ‘Did you know that in 2017 only 20% food waste was composted or treated?’ asks a Lakeland spokesperson. If you do have surplus food, that is where neighbourhood food-sharing apps such as Olio come into their own. Lawson expects to see more initiatives in that sphere.
What you'll be drinking in 2020
From new Scottish craft brewery Jump Ship to Granger & Co.’s Seedlip Nogroni cocktail, low- and no-alcohol is surging. Dan Woolfson believes US-style canned hard seltzers (naturally fruity sparkling waters with booze), will be huge, thanks to UK outfits Spark and Bodega Bay: ‘It merges the most powerful recent trends, health and convenience.’
Elsewhere, look out for English natural wines from Tillingham, Davenport and Ancre Hill, and continuing craziness in cocktails. Whether enhanced with gourmet jams or fat-washed spirits (where meat fat is used to flavour spirits, then frozen and removed), the creative juices are still flowing. Blended, cocktail-friendly whiskies are emerging, too, such as The Woodsman, which, says Jack Wakelin, head bartender at Sheffield’s Public, make whisky ‘fun and accessible’. Outraging purists, Wakelin serves a cocktail that mixes Talisker single malt and wine. Bars are also reducing waste. Transported in recyclable kegs, more wines are served on-tap and there’s greater choice in quality, pre-mixed cocktails. ‘Gallons of ice are usually wasted,’ says Wakelin, ‘but with batched cocktails, the exact amount of water is added.’
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