02 | Jan | 17

Hugh Thomas

2017 Future Trends

Goodbye, 2016. And farewell. Many people who won’t look back on you too fondly, what with all those obituaries of the great and good — and the politics of the foolish. Did the media ever have their hands so full?

If we’re talking about street food though (PS: we do that from time to time), 2017’s got to go some to beat 2016. This is what happened way back when. But Santa Maria research says 94% of street food consumers will, based on those interviewed, be eating more or the same amount of the stuff over the next 12 months. Ok, so what will it look like? And how will we be eating it? We asked around, and this is what we came up with:

Re-light my fire

Live-fire cooking – that simple, older-than-time-itself technique of using direct and indirect heat from burning charcoal and wood to cook your food – was a big thing for restaurants in 2016. Probably for the way it produces a different, nuanced, layer of flavour to a dish. Like all good stuff in the culinary industry, these things trickle down to other parts of culture sooner rather than later. So expect to see more BBQs, charcoal grills, and Big Green Eggs in particular adding that fifth element to street food.

Burger me

The burger. The dependable hero of street food. But for how long? The good old days of patty and bun have, arguably, fizzled out into the background. If you want to do burgers now, you’ve got to be doing something a bit more interesting. Something that’s going to set a trend. We’re talking Mac & Wild’s beef/venison number, with its béarnaise and candied bacon. Or The Patate’s beef bourguignon burger with raclette. Failing that, other sandwiches ­– like the Po Boy or the Cuban sandwich – could be the burger alternative of 2017 that the good people asked for. But how will we get it?


Nah. Not yet. 2018 maybe. Although street food traders are now getting signed up for delivery through Deliveroo (and Uber Eats making some excited noises in a readiness to follow).

Street food finds a home

According to Santa Maria, street food is 86% more popular than it was two years ago. With that interest brings investors and capital, which allows traders to bump up their game a bit and get a permanent site – we saw a handful of traders, the likes of Smokestak, Butchies, The Cheese Truck, and Mac Factory, go full-on bricks n’ mortar in 2016, so don’t be surprised if some of your favourite traders start moving into permanent digs too. And our British Street Food Pub Takeover is a good way to give nascent street food businesses a production kitchen as a base for their Deliveroo business (see above) — and increase their output.

We asked our friends at NCASS if they had a take on what 2017 was going to bring. They weren’t short of things to say. Sorry to say we did have to edit their six-page answer about new gas regulations….

Food Festivals within Music Festivals

Music festivals need to sell beer. Lots of it. The more they sell, the more likely they’ll be able to run the event again the following year. The same applies to food vendors, but with food. In 2016 Standon Calling music festival opened to punters a day early, why? To put on a street food festival. By opening early they got to increase revenue, the traders made more sales and the punters got to kick off their festival with a meat rave. We expect more festivals and events to take this approach in 2017.

Shipping Containers Everywhere
They’re cheap, durable and require limited set up. They’re also pretty funky to sell food from. Property developers and landowners up and down the UK have seen the success of Boxpark and Pop Brixton (amongst others) and these semi-permanent restaurants offer the look of the street but with secure restaurant units. Expect to see more clusters of containers and one off pitches on retail parks, disused land and shopping centres in 2017

Street food… actually on the streets
By 2020 Local authorities will have had their budgets slashed by over 70% of their 2012 levels as part of the governments’ austerity drive. Councils are skint and they need revenue, desperately. Street trading and concessions could offer opportunities to raise additional revenue and create opportunities for street vendors and other mobile caterers that previously have not existed. With technological developments and greater understanding of street food at local authority level, we expect more councils to redefine their street trading, markets and concessions policies.

Markets Privatised?
Do local authority markets teams have the resources to grow markets and events? Do they have the skill set for the modern street food industry? Can they send a tweet or Instagram without the comms team ok’ing it? With budgets under pressure we may see local authorities considering privatising markets by either selling or leasing the land and market rights. Private operators tend to charge more, but when they get it right can develop profitable markets. Although Camden market is not publicly owned, the example set by KERB in the market could act as a blue print for councils with failing markets that could be re-energised by private enterprise and investment. The bullring markets in Birmingham, currently council run, will be handed over to a private operator for the new Smithfield food market when it is built.

It’s going to be quite a year….