The Great Speciality Food Trendspotter

14 January 2016, 14:14 PM
  • Wondering what trends to expect in 2016? Sally-Jayne Wright shops around to ensure you have your finger on the pulse
The Great Speciality Food Trendspotter

Bake-Off effect still great
In just five years, BBC1’s Great British Bake-Off has acquired a Delia-esque reputation for lighting up the tills. Online grocer Ocado reported a 300 per cent increase in demand for brown sugar during Bake Off’s nine-week run in 2014. However, some retailers reckon the show’s effect is starting to wane.

The Do-It-Yourself Food movement
Did Bake-Off start this trend or was it leaner times, or concern about where our food comes from? Whatever the trigger, there’s been a revival in ‘make your own’. This has led to the appearance of kits and accessories ranging from home brew equipment to chocolate making kits, grow your own mushroom kits to truffle trees.

Sweet success
Interviewed in Snack Buyer, Edward Berry, former managing director of Ludlow Food Centre, reckoned traditional or retro sweets had had their day. At Speciality and Fine Food Fair, I was told that liquorice, however, is still flying out the door. We also saw old favourites like Crunchies and Wagon Wheels being deconstructed and reproduced with more natural ingredients. Examples include handcrafted honeycomb shards dipped in coatings that included peanut butter and 70% dark chocolate.

Morning goods and brunch options
US-style comfort food and brunch is still fashionable, and we’re seeing plenty of innovation in the morning goods sector. Bring on cheese Danishes, Belgian-style sugar-coated waffles, fruits of the forest-filled scones, chocolate hot cross buns and Danishes, sweet and savoury pancakes and crêpes. Crumpets – be they sourdough or buttermilk, square or baked with cheese and black pepper – are in. Any carb goes, provided it’s suitable for brunch and more exciting than toast.

Snack attack
Snackers have become health conscious. They want portion-controlled, calorie-counted, high fibre and protein hits between meals, so biltong is a good bet and a high-fibre snack such as vegan-friendly Taking the Pea – coated crunchy peas with smoked ham flavour – could do well.

Fermented foods
There’s been an explosion of interest in fermented foods: kefir, kimchi, kombucha (fermented tea), sauerkraut and sourdough among many others.

Free-from and gluten-free
When Bake-off contestants are asked to make a gluten-free technical challenge, you know this trend has gone mainstream. Another sign is that food manufacturers are using potato or rice flour as a filler instead of crumbs so they can claim gluten-free status on the packaging.

Flavours of the month
Salted caramel is still going strong as are sweet-salt combinations such as milk chocolate pretzels, chocolate with sea salt and peanut butter in sweet recipes. Chilli is still around but is not quite so ubiquitous as before. Gin – craft and branded - turns up in products ranging from gin-cured salmon to gin and tonic ice cream (Sipsmiths and Jude’s). Coco Chocolate’s gin and tonic chocolate won a Great Taste Award in 2014 while Chococo’s Twisted Nose gin chocolates – infused with, would you believe, locally grown fresh watercress – this year took an Academy of Chocolates Gold Award. Aldi’s gin and tonic crisps are sure to have provided a talking point at Christmas parties.

Nuts for coconut
Our love affair with coconut looks set to linger because coconut ticks many boxes. Coconut water has potassium, sodium and magnesium to rehydrate you after exercise or illness and also tastes great. Dairy avoiders find yoghurt and ice cream they can eat because it’s made with coconut milk ( Health-conscious customers looking to reduce their consumption of refined sugar will appreciate coconut sugar’s reputation for having a lower glycaemic index than refined sugar to keep blood sugar levels stable. Used in the tropics for millennia, coconut oil is the fat from pressed coconuts and is believed to have many health benefits.

Read the full feature in the February/March issue of Speciality Food

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