In 2024-2025, the UK’s food and beverage sector is set to embrace a range of innovative trends. Marked by advancements in technology, including AI, and a deeper focus on sustainability, these trends reflect evolving consumer demands for health, convenience, and diverse culinary experiences. 

From the rise of alternative proteins to the resurgence of classic comfort foods with a gourmet edge, the industry is adapting to changing tastes and environmental concerns. 

We look at 5 major food trends and 10 emerging ones.

In 2024-2025, the UK’s food and beverage sector is set to embrace a range of innovative trends. Marked by advancements in technology, including AI, and a deeper focus on sustainability, these trends reflect evolving consumer demands for health, convenience, and diverse culinary experiences. 

From the rise of alternative proteins to the resurgence of classic comfort foods with a gourmet edge, the industry is adapting to changing tastes and environmental concerns. 

We look at 5 major food trends and 10 emerging ones.

What makes it worth the splurge: 

  • Multi-course tasting menus 
  • Tableside theatre – food made at the table etc.
  • Experiential dining – pop-ups based on favourite TV shows and films, to transport diners.
  • Size – giant croissants, quadruple finger KitKats, triple stacked burgers etc.
  • Artisan – artisanal bakeries and cake specialists bring with them a cult following

Examples

What could this mean for you?

A lot of these examples can be recreated in a variety of establishments, whether you’re a bar, shop, restaurant or cafe owner. You could put on themed supper clubs, create a new sweet bake every month, consider adding one more premium dish to your menu as a weekly changing special, and finally, experiment with size. 

Trend 2: Fast, Convenient, Quality Meals

The fast-paced life continues to have many of us short of time when it comes to food. But it’s the need for convenience and speed while keeping up quality and flavour, which can sometimes be the challenge.

How to make it ‘savvy’:

  1. Good value and fast – for many fast food outlets this is easy. For others, this could be something like a premium toastie or sandwich offering, executed well and fast. As the price of groceries goes up, people are leaning towards buying pre-made food to save time and balance costs.
  2. Cheap and cheerful dining – fast food but make it gourmet (chicken burgers, rotisserie chicken and chips, ramen etc.) Wine also has a place – natural, lower ABV, which in turn is usually cheaper.
  3. Set menus – a great way to show customers value for money and attract customers, whether it’s a lunch menu or an early dinner menu. Bottomless brunch/lunch also falls into this category. 
  4. On the go – this could be in the form of sandwiches, canned drinks, yoghurt pouches or more.
  5. Home Cooking 2.0 – air fryers, slow cookers and new combo microwaves are being used to help save on money, whether it’s to create ‘gourmet’ meals from high-quality ready meals or cook their meals from scratch.
  6. Quick and customisable – staple dishes, which the customer can customise, like adding sweet/savoury/spicy sauces to meals like macaroni & cheese. This also goes as far as making ‘DIY salad boxes’ etc. 

Examples:

What could this mean for you? 

Can you put some quick, convenient meals on your menu? Maybe you can offer on-the-go smoothies, drinks and sandwiches or even healthy, homemade ready meals. Maybe you can do a ‘build your own charcuterie and cheese board’ if you’re a wine bar, or even a ‘build for own afternoon tea board’, if you’re a cafe or even care home.

If you want to attract more diverse diners or fulfil usually quiet times, a set-menu ordering is always a great idea. 

From a cost-saving perspective, if this is something you need to watch, experimenting with BBQs and air fryers versus the oven isn’t a bad idea either.

Trend 3: Awaken the senses

Restaurants and bars are pushing boundaries to engage and challenge our senses at meal times. From marmite-based cocktails to beef-fat fudge, there are no boundaries.

How to awaken the senses:

  1. Umami – combine sweet treats with umami flavours, like miso caramel cookies, parsnip ice cream and warm chocolate cake. It can also be used in savoury dishes, as cooks are going bigger and bolder with their cooking techniques like Koji-marinated fried chicken.
  2. Savoury cocktails – avocado, beetroot, miso and herbs bring depth, body and balance to cocktails. Some even go as far as adding oil or beef fat for a rich mouthfeel.
  3. Sweet and savoury – using fruit in savoury dishes isn’t a new concept but it is getting more daring. Pickling and fermenting are commonplace.
  4. Bring the colour – food or drink, how it looks will always be important. Natural colouring from beetroot, matcha and spinach are your winners here.
  5. Make it interactive – customers like being able to customise their meals, so sharing plates, build-your-own-nachos or wraps, or multiple sauces served with fries can feed these senses.

Examples:

  • Black olive panna cotta, strawberry and rhubarb, Cloudstreet, Singapore 
  • Warm brioche garlic bread with black garlic gelato, Gelato Messina, Australia 
  • Pepperoni Negroni made with London dry gin, washed in rendered pepperoni fat, Pizza Marvin, Australia 
  • Grilled pork tenderloin with rhubarb mostarda, Daisies, USA
  • Unicorn oysters with tomato granita, celery vinegar & horseradish, Moëca, USA
  • Korean pork ribs with an assortment of condiments, San Ho Won, USA

What could this mean for you?

Some of these examples feel quite high-end but they needn’t be. Add colour with something like red pepper hummus or beetroot hummus. Add miso to a few sweet bakes, caramel or something like macaroni cheese to give it a bigger savoury hit. Pickled and fermented veg are now mainstream, so if you don’t have a few jars ‘pickling’ about, make some. Most importantly, have fun being playful.

Trend 4: Classic Comfort

From nostalgic dishes to simply satisfying cravings, comfort food isn’t just beige, it’s creative, and delicious and evokes warm feelings, which make you smile.

How to make comfort food look good:

  1. Nostalgic food but make it premium – prawn cocktail but grill the prawns…
  2. Make food a source of joy – still on the nostalgia train here but tapping into the fun side, like a grown-up Happy Meal or premium crisp sandwich.
  3. Handheld formats but gourmet – fancy burgers, overflowing sandwiches, chicken wings with a variety of sauces. This is food that looks simple but is made with skill and quality ingredients. 
  4. Work the croissants – croissants, cruffins, ice ‘crones’, are incredibly popular. If you can make a fresh batch in the morning, partner with a local bakery or find a way to use them in a dessert, you’re onto a winner. 
  5. Add some flame flavour – fire cooking looks fun and adds heaps of flavour. From meats to fruits, there’s no limit to what finds its way to the flames and the flavour it can add.
  6. Cocktails from the 20’s still have a place – Martini, Kir Royale, French 75, don’t kill them off the menu just yet. Rather place with different vermouths and spirits available until you make your twist.

Examples:

What could this mean for you?

The big learning here is that the trend of nostalgia never really goes away, so you’re safe adding a little douse of it to your menu – and you should.

Trend 5: Eat Real Food

People want food they recognise; simple ingredients, cooked well, but that also tastes nice. As with most of the trends, it’s all got to be done to a budget, too.

How we can use more real food:

  1. Dairy isn’t the devil – it’s had a bad name in the past but butter (as we all know) is delicious and boosts dishes no end. 
  2. Eggs in everything – well, almost. Eggs can be done in a magnitude of ways from a simple scramble to a soft omelette with fresh truffle. 
  3. Classic meats, cooked to perfection – rotisserie chicken, steak frites. This is tried and tested, honest food that tastes delicious. Mix it up when it comes to the sauces and use a flame grill for extra flavour. 
  4. Budget-friendly seafood – seafood doesn’t have to be expensive. These days grilled sardines and anchovies are somewhat fashionable! 
  5. Move away from vegan substitutes – use real vegetables and fruit and get creative. People are moving away from ultra-processed substitutes. Instead, use the meatiest mushrooms, aubergines, okras, butterbeans and more.

Examples:

What could this mean for you?

Putting simple ingredients into your dishes is great but how does the consumer know this? Make sure your menus read well and highlight the ingredients, for example, grilled pork loin, glazed carrots and anchovy butter. 

Explore popular tinned foods as your lunch or mid-week night staples – you’ll be surprised how popular anchovies on fresh sourdough are.

10 New trends

  1. Harnessing AI 

AI has been making significant strides in various industries, and the food sector is no exception. Some may still be sceptical, but many are embracing it to enhance efficiency, cut costs, improve customer experience, and fuel innovation.

  1. Changing Protein Landscape

Plant-based food is no longer a trend; it’s mainstream. The spotlight now is on alternative protein sources, transcending the boundaries of the traditional tofu to include lab-engineered meat substitutes and whole food-based proteins.

  1. The Rise of Ambient Dining

It’s not just basic tins and jars in the ambient isles anymore. There are now nutritionally dense meal replacement options, as well as high-end variants of the classic chopped tomatoes, pulses, noodles and rice.

  1. Affordable Luxury

Consumers are increasingly looking for affordable gourmet experiences. Chefs are responding by transforming traditional, simple dishes into premium options, serving up elevated versions of classics like roast chicken and chips or steak frites.

  1. The Umami Factor

Umami, a savoury taste that has been trending, continues to hold sway. Culinary creators are becoming more adventurous, incorporating umami into both sweet and savoury dishes, and even cocktails.

  1. Nostalgia on a Plate

Retro dishes like prawn cocktails, meatloaf, and trifles are maintaining their appeal. When served on vintage crockery, these dishes transport guests back to fond memories, evoking a sense of nostalgia.

  1. Sustainable Sourcing

The growing concern about climate change is influencing consumer choices. Knowing the origin of their food is a significant factor for many diners, pushing restaurant owners to partner with suppliers that practice sustainable and organic farming, and prioritise local sourcing.

  1. The Power of Gene Editing

Behind the scenes, some start-ups and scientists are turning plants into ‘protein factories’ through molecular farming, and others are using gene-editing technology to give plants different advantages such as enhancing the flavour and nutritional content of crops.

  1. Health Hacking

People are using the power of genetics, biology, neuroscience, and nutrition to ‘hack’ their unique biology in pursuit of longevity and wellness. This movement involves everything from diet modifications, breathwork, and daily movement, to digital health tools aimed at not just slowing down ageing, but potentially reversing it. Debating Ultra-Processed Foods

The debate around ultra-processed foods continues, as we better understand the links between what we eat now and our long-term health. Needless to say, more and more people are cooking from scratch.

  1. Debating Ultra-Processed Foods

The conversation around ultra-processed foods continues as we gain a deeper understanding of their impact on long-term health. Consequently, more people are choosing to cook from scratch.

Analysis

  • Consumer Behavior: These trends reflect a growing consumer desire for quality, health, and sustainability, balanced with the need for convenience and comfort.
  • Technological Influence: AI and gene-editing technologies are shaping the future of food, with a focus on efficiency and enhanced nutritional value.
  • Sustainability Focus: There’s a clear emphasis on sustainable practices and reducing environmental impact.
  • Health Consciousness: Trends show a shift towards natural ingredients and away from processed foods, in line with increased health awareness.
  • Culinary Innovation: Chefs and food businesses are being creative, merging traditional tastes with modern twists, and engaging customers’ senses in novel ways.

Overall, these trends indicate a dynamic shift in the food and beverage industry, driven by technological advancements, environmental concerns, and evolving consumer preferences.

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