The food business moves fast.
What’s hot and fresh this year can quickly become dated and dull the next. The very best chefs and restaurant owners are on top of consumer food trends and are setting the agenda for what we’ll all be eating and experiencing next year.
Working with many of Australia’s top chefs and restaurant owners has given us unique insight into the changing landscape of the Australian restaurant scene – these are our top six predictions for 2019 dining.
Trend 1: Cheat meat
More and more consumers are increasing their intake of vegetarian and vegan meals for health, environmental or ethical reasons. While the idea of mock meat is nothing new, developments in food technology have allowed these imitation products to now strongly resemble the smell, texture and taste of their meaty counterparts. At the centre of this trend is Beyond Meat, an American producer of plant-based meat who now distribute to 40 countries, reflecting the global consumer demand for meat alternatives. With Australian chains Lord of the Fries, Grill’d and Coles quick on the uptake of Beyond Meat products, you can be sure that cheat meat is here to stay.
Trend 2: Cannabis food
Foods infused with cannabidiol (CBD) will become more readily available as countries change laws and begin to accept CBD ingredients in everyday life. CBD is a compound found in hemp and marijuana that has proven helpful in treating some cases of pain, epilepsy and anxiety – without getting you high. Across the US, the compound has made its way into creams, sprays, lotions and even some foods, although the law doesn’t yet permit it. Given this, large restaurant chains are mostly steering clear of CBD infused foods so curious consumers are turning to private specialty chefs to host dinners under the radar instead.
Trend 3: Naked foods
The movement towards zero waste and less packaging has taken the world by storm with consumers demanding that hospitality businesses make sustainability a priority. From local pubs and cafes to global franchises, venues are cutting back on the use of packaging, plastic bags, straws and single use coffee cups. Several ideas to reduce your footprint include: introducing metal straws or biodegradable crockery; sourcing bulk foods with no packaging; implementing composting systems; and getting creative with parts of ingredients not traditionally used (peels, leaves, stems etc). Neglect to take action and sustainably minded customers will take their money elsewhere.
Trend 4: Grappa
This Italian staple is reemerging for hipsters and adventurous gourmands. A byproduct of the winemaking process and made from several grape varieties, the spirit showcases the aroma of the grape skin and is often enjoyed with an espresso coffee, known by Italians as “corrected coffee”. The production of grappa isn’t yet widespread in Australia but thanks to the boom of craft spirits there are more wineries and distilleries giving it a go, and more restaurants folding it into their drink menus.
Trend 5: Cashless dining
As we increasingly become a cashless society, more hospitality businesses are moving to digital and ditching cash altogether. Today, younger generations seldom have cash on hand, preferring alternate pay methods via cards, phones, wristbands and sometimes even the swipe of a reusable coffee cup. Tap and go technology is speeding up transactions and saving time when it comes to accounting, resulting in less staff hours serving, counting tills and visiting the bank for change. For busy businesses this often counteracts the average merchant fee of 1.5% per payment while streamlining the payment process for both customers and staff.
Trend 6: Goat
While Asian and African countries have been cooking with goat for years, the naturally lean and low in cholesterol meat has been slow on the uptake in Australia, with far more goats being exported than consumed. However the popularity of goat on the dinner table is fast growing as people seek new culinary experiences. Chefs are getting creative offering a range of dishes with goat meat; from curries and slow cooked goat falling off the bone to the more adventurous goat shoulder or goat bacon. In 2019, a gamble with goat will likely pay off.