Five food & drink trends to watch in 2018

The way we feel about our food and drink, where it comes from and how we consume it, is set to shape marketing trends in this area in 2018. Aesthetics continue to be key in the Instagram age, while wellness – not only ours but the health of the planet – also plays a big role.

Hospitality, kinship and social purpose

Many of us are looking to develop more meaningful connections through our food and drink: what we eat and drink, where and who with. The universal language of food is set to bring people closer together in 2018. Chefs are turning activist, raising awareness of social issues such as global hunger and refugee crises, and embracing the appetite for ‘food that tastes good and does good’.

The war on waste is also gaining pace. There’s a focus on trying to do more with what we have, with many companies – like Get Wonky and Toast Ale – now marketing food and drink made from produce that would normally be discarded. Chefs and restaurants have increasing influence in the direction of food production and are using it to promote sustainability and ethical eating.

Veganism gets aspirational and accessible

The number of vegans in the UK has risen by more than 350% in the past 10 years according to figures from the Vegan Society. Increased demand has fed increased supply, which in turn seems to be fuelling demand. A number of on-the-go vegan products have been launched already this year by the likes of Tesco and Asda, making this lifestyle more accessible.

Scientists have been busily creating high tech meat alternatives like the somewhat infamous ‘bleeding burger’ while the compelling ecological narrative around reducing meat consumption is convincing ever more people of the benefits of a plant-based diet – especially health and environmentally conscious millennials. Editor of Vegan Life Magazine Maria Choriando is convinced that the trend ties back to social media and the popularity of #vegan.

Brain-boosting food and drink for wellness

Increasing how much fruit and veg you eat is one way to boost wellness, but the key healthy eating trend for 2018 will be brain food. So-called ‘nootropics’ – substances that can improve creativity, memory and motivation – are increasing in popularity.

Scientists are looking into the antioxidants in mushrooms that could stave off diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.  The preferred way to buy your brain-boosting mushrooms? As a powder, of course.

Instagrammable technicolour

Bright and unusual colours take centre stage for this food and drink trend, which hinges on the use of fresh, natural ingredients. Microgreens are replaced by edible floral accents that don’t do much for taste but do add considerable visual appeal. From purple pesto to pandan’s vivid green hues and the quest for the perfect pink chocolate, Instagrammability is at the heart of it all. But there’s also research to suggest that colour is linked to taste, and the fact that a rainbow of foods likely means a variety of nutrients (see trend 3).

Following Pantone’s announcement of Ultra Violet as it’s colour of the year, purple versions of carrots and sweet potatoes, figs, cabbage and aubergines are among the vegetables expected to be particularly popular in the coming year.

Cross-sensory and immersive experiences

We’ll also be seeing more chef collaborations, themed pop-ups and temporary restaurants in 2018. Designers and scientists are joining forces to intrigue and entice consumers in the vein of collabs like The Roots and Stella Artois circa 2016. From Dinner Time Story’s 3D projected chef explaining drinks and dishes as they’re placed in front of you, to Budweiser’s 4D virtual reality sampling experience, technology will be put to use to enhance our dining and drinking experiences. Event dining is set to continue growing in popularity, as will themed spaces and pop culture tie-ins such as the Darkside Bar.