As the year draws to a close, we can reflect on ‘the year that was’ in food and drink. We have guzzled plenty of coffee and craft beer, lost our chance at buying property because of our smashed avocado addiction and developed an unhealthy obsession with rainbow-coloured everything. So what were the best (and worst) food trends of 2017, and what can we expect in the new year?
THE BEST OF 2017
Vegan food: Once considered a niche diet option, more and more Australians are turning to vegan eating. This is not solely because of ethical treatment of animals, with many flocking to this lifestyle for the enormous health benefits that it delivers. Major chains have taken notice, with many adopting a vegan menu to cater to the demand.
Food waste: Part of Australians’ desire for more sustainable eating options includes the volume of waste that is generated by food and beverage vendors. This gave rise to the ABC documentary series ‘War On Waste’, which explores the growing problem of landfill, with rubbish production growing at double the rate of the population.
Sandwich shops: As Australians turn to healthier eating options, traditional fast food outlets have taken a hit. While Aussies want to eat healthier, they are still time-pressed, so sandwich shops have become king with the perfect blend of nutritional balance and speed of service.
Sugar under fire: After the major decision in the UK to impose a tax on sugary drinks in 2018, the rallying cry against refined sugar has continued. More Australians are commiting to the ‘I Quit Sugar’ movement and natural sweetening options are more in vogue. This is likely to continue into the future.
Actual international cuisine: Social media is educating the masses on what our friends overseas ‘actually’ eat. This means pizza is not bread with eight different meats on it and traditional Japanese is not deep fried chicken wrapped in rice. Consumers want a more genuine experience, and vendors are delivering it.
GLAD TO SEE THE BACK OF…
Charcoal-tinged everything: Charcoal has many healthy benefits but it doesn’t belong in soft serve.
Avolattes: Alright, this is possibly even too Melbourne for Melbourne. Coffee served in an avocado skin. Let’s just get back to mugs, shall we?
Unicorn everything: Explosions of colour that look like a rainbow threw up on your plate (or in your glass). Unless you’re five, we hope you hope this trend was fleeting.
Automated service: You can’t fight progress, but removing the human experience from customer service is not something we consumers are ready to embrace just yet.
Vegetable pasta: Sure, it’s healthy. But we are grown ups. We don’t need to be disguising our food just to eat healthier.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT IN 2018
More transparency: Market research has shown that more Australians want to know what is in their food and where it comes from. In the next 12 months, expect food and beverage vendors to accommodate this with greater transparency on the full end-to-end process of how their products get to your plate, bowl or glass. Consumers want to know their food and drink is safe, trustworthy, ethically sourced and free of anything non-natural.
Increased personalisation: The advent of internet and social media shopping has allowed businesses to deliver targeted products that suit an individual’s personal tastes and shopping trends. This is set to evolve in the food and beverage industry, with more consumers turning to digital channels for purchasing. Expect to see more food and drink combinations tailored to your tastes, popping up in your feeds and online shopping lists. Perhaps we will talk about this again at the end of 2018, whether it’s good or bad, we are yet to see.
Engineered natural food: The rise of vegan eating is creating a new industry, where scientists are using natural products to create authentic meat replacement options. This includes patties that ‘bleed’ just like meat and desserts that turn nuts into creamy substances you would swear is dairy.
Sparkling water boom: Did you know Paris has installed fountains that gush sparkling water? It may sound insane, but this is a basic product that experts tip is set to have a massive global boom. And why not? It’s just water, no additives (except the bubbles), no sugar, no worries. This is set to be the next major winner in the increased uptake of healthy eating options.
Edible flowers: This has already started to catch fire, but expect edible petals to be on more of your plate in 2018. This means rose-flavours, lavender infusions and colourful, flowery dishes that delight all of the senses.