16 | Dec | 13

Richard Johnson

On Trend

I once made the mistake of asking Giorgio Locatelli about food trends for the year ahead. We had been filming together (see here), but he couldn’t  bring himself to give me an answer to my question. “The idea of food trends sounds a bit ridiculous to me” he says. “Food is a basic necessity, not a shirt. You can’t try to fit food into a trend.” But I’m ignoring Giorgio. Everyone loves a trend. And when I read the 10 Top Trends for 2014 from food&drink towers, I was convinced of their worth. Of course, it helped that in 2014 the trend analysts reckon that street food will figure large….

Introducing the 10 for 2014

1. The Real Deal
2. Health and Happiness
3. Waste Avoidance
4. Celeb Influences
5. Farm To Table Food
6. Fresh & Flavourful
7. Mutton Dressed As Lamb
8. Glorious Gluten-Free Food
9. Community Spirit
10. A Different Kind of Ethnic

Almost 60% of respondents to the survey believed community spirit will be a hugely influential trend for 2014. They’re thinking allotments, pop-up restaurants, street food, local food markets and stalls, food clubs, wine and beer tasting clubs — even ‘tweet-ups’. Community spirit brings the fun and social side back into dining, which are, in their opinion, vital to connecting a food/drink brand with the end user time and time again.

Health will be hugely important in 2014 — but we’re not talking about functional foods any more. We’re talking about fresh, flavourful, simple fare. “Gluten-free goodies one of our 10 trends for the first time this year,” says Helen Lewis, the author of the report, “as more and more people choose to cut gluten from their diets entirely or occasionally. The passion of gluten-free producers to create delicious products that stand up in taste tests compared to ‘standard’ variants is incredible.”

According to the Food Standards Agency, the British gluten-free market is worth £238 million annually and grew by more than 15% last year. In the US, it’s worth around $2.6 billion, with growth of 36% since 2006, and there are predictions that it will double in size over the next two years. Across Europe, demand is soaring – with even carb-loving citizens of countries like Italy now demanding gluten-free pasta and pizza. India with its growing middle class is also touted as a potential huge market.

Despite economic difficulties being cited by 38% of respondents as very important and 40.5% as important in 2014, there still seems incredible interest in ‘Real Deal’ products such as craft beers, English wines, premium and indulgent goodies, artisan spices and herbs, which often come at a premium compared to economy ranges. When it comes to certain products/recipes/food/drink some shoppers are simply not prepared to settle for second best.

Greg Parsons, MD at Cricketer Farm, ‘the home of healthy cheese’, thinks small producers will be the real winners in 2014: “Quick and nimble small producers have a distinct advantage over big multiples and food&drink brands. Whether it’s investing in seasonal small-run pack design or tweaking recipes fast, based on customer feedback, this is how small and regional producers can get one up on their larger counterparts.”

A full copy of the report can be requested from Helen Lewis at [email protected]