3 Key Trends to Watch out for in UK Foodservice
Cian O’Mahony, Insight and Planning Specialist, London
Photo by Bruno Martins on Unsplash
The UK eating out market was estimated at a value of £95.2 billion in 2022 (Lumina Intelligence, 2022). The channel experienced a significant bounce back last year following two years of Covid-19 related restrictions. Looking ahead, foodservice will be challenged by the cost of living crisis and consumers cutting back on their frequency of dining out. The opportunity remains significant however, with many trends emerging to address changing consumer needs within UK foodservice. What are some of these key trends emerging within the channel, and how can these help inform Irish suppliers in their approach to the market?
Bord Bia conducted a market study visit to the UK in January 2023, exploring some of the most popular foodservice outlets under the theme of ‘world cuisines’. After visiting several of these locations around London, some key themes emerged.
Far-Flung and Hyper Regional
Building on previous global food trends, cuisines are increasingly being brought to UK consumers from further afield. Popular, authentic cuisines are now region-specific, it is no longer sufficient to be simply Indian or Asian. This plays heavily into one of the key themes within Bord Bia’s culinary trends research, what we refer to as ‘Roots’. Consumers are increasingly being introduced to more regional, local cuisines or ‘hyper-regional’ cuisines, and dishes are emerging which we’ve never seen before (Bord Bia, 2022). Cuisines from the likes of Cuba, Ecuador, Somali and Iceland are examples of how the UK is increasingly being exposed to further-afield food.
Fine-Dining to Fine Casual
An emerging trend within UK foodservice is the move from the idea of fine dining towards more casual settings where the food is elevated, but the setting is more relaxed. Examples of this in the UK include JKS restaurants who describe their restaurants, including Hoppers, Bao and Berenjak, as ‘fine casual’. We’re seeing menus moving away from typical 3-course styles to snack servings, smaller plates and sharing, without compromising on the quality of the food. Another interesting example within this space is Six by Nico, who offer a unique, fine dining style food experience in a more casual setting, providing six courses at an affordable price.
More Mindful and Friendly
Friendly to the environment has become more important for both consumers and operators alike, with restaurants increasingly using their environmentally friendly sourcing strategies as a point of differentiation. Whilst the cost of living crisis and inflationary pressures is resulting in UK consumers putting sustainability behaviours somewhat on hold (Bord Bia, 2023), longer term this is an area expected to continue to grow in importance and relevance. This is another area identified within our culinary trends research, particularly within the mindful choices trend. Full utilization involves chefs and restaurants using less fashionable or lesser known varieties of ingredients in dishes, enabling reduced amounts of waste (Bord Bia, 2022). This is something we see playing out in various ways throughout UK foodservice, particularly in terms of cuts of meat and utilising all parts of an animal, despite them being less fashionable.
The UK foodservice market is predicted to total £102.8 billion in 2025, representing a compound annual growth rate of 2.6% from 2022-2025. (Lumina Intelligence, 2022). Whilst inflation is expected to be the main driver in this value growth, the cost of living crisis is expected to ease in 2024, which will boost the channel further.
For Irish suppliers, keeping abreast of the trends driving the market, including the three outlined above, and considering how their products might cater to them will be key in terms accessing this significant size of prize.
Bord Bia. (2022, October 26). 2022 Culinary Trends Report. Retrieved March 1, 2023, from www.bordbia.ie website: https://www.bordbia.ie/industry/insights/publications/2022-culinary-trends-report/
Bord Bia. (2023, January 18). Inflationary Impact 2023. Retrieved March 1, 2023, from www.bordbia.ie website: https://www.bordbia.ie/industry/insights/publications/inflationary-impact-2023/
Lumina Intelligence. (2022). UK Eating Out Market Report 2022. Retrieved March 1, 2023, from Lumina Intelligence Store website: https://store.lumina-intelligence.com/product/uk-eating-out-market-report-2022/