One of the things I love most about working with the hospitality sector is their constant drive to innovate. Bars and restaurants are always on the hunt for the Next Big Thing, and even those extreme ideas, which start life in the scientific kitchens of chefs like Heston Blumenthal, eventually filter their way down to more everyday establishments.
I’ve been looking through some trend reports to see what’s predicted for 2015. Baum & Whiteman’s excellent summary is that as basic flavours are manipulated by chefs and food manufacturers, ‘authenticity’ is no longer relevant. Further, technology is starting to profoundly change the way restaurants operate.
Amongst all the high-end trends they identified, there were a few areas that we might see having a more immediate, everyday impact;
- Everything Savoury (e.g. new vegetables, seaweeds, savoury yogurts and ice creams)
- New Drinks (e.g. beer cocktails, flavoured spirits, ‘adult’ shakes and upmarket softs)
- Food Science (increasing umami via other senses e.g. lighting, aromas, flavour additives, special crockery)
- Entomophagy (eating insects – crickets in melted cheese is already on trial at the Mexican chain Wahaca).
New technologies are predicted to feature strongly in two areas; guest-facing gadgets (ordering via kiosks, table-based tablets and ‘virtual reality’ menus) and new approaches to paying the bill (such as pre-payment on booking, airline-style demand pricing and an end to tipping).
The search for more sustainable, healthier replacements for traditional animal proteins is high on the agenda for many innovative companies. If the idea of eating insects is a little unpalatable, Silicon Valley-backed Hampton Creek is exploring the potential of 400,000 plants to try and reduce the reliance on the 1.8 trillion eggs laid worldwide each year. It’s a big challenge – the humble egg performs 22 different functions in cooking (aerating, emulsifying, binding, bulking etc etc).
Importantly, their aim is to produce foods that are ‘better for body and planet’, without sacrificing taste. They’re already producing very successful egg-free mayonnaise and cookies. In the words of CEO Josh Tetrick, “the world doesn’t need another web app… we’re using capitalism to solve a big problem”.
So what do you think 2015 is going to be all about? I’ve compiled a very short survey (linked here), so if you can spare 5 minutes to complete it, I’ll share the results next month. And if you complete it before January 30th, one lucky business will win a free Mini Marketing Audit.
Here’s to a prosperous (and delicious) 2015!