Consumer confidence set to falter in the year ahead prompting foodservice growth to continue to slow

12 December 2016

Dessert cafés, all-day brunch, bespoke dishes cooked to order and a growth in the use of third-party food delivery firms are amongst the key eating out trends for the year ahead, according to foodservice consultancy Horizons.

Consumers’ on-going preference for eating what they want, when they want it, whether a power breakfast, healthy snack, or indulgent dessert, will see the continued erosion of traditional day-parts to which foodservice operators must respond with flexible menus throughout the day.

Horizons’ recent Ones to Watch research noted the explosion of dessert cafés. Brands such as Kaspa’s, Treatz Dessert Parlour, and Creams have seen fairly rapid growth on the high street offering ice creams, gelatos, waffles, crêpes and sundaes.

Healthy eating remains a concern amongst UK diners as we move toward the end of the decade, prompting the use of natural sweeteners such as apple, dates and coconut. Vegan, gluten-free and vegetarian dishes are now almost fully mainstream, while post workout power snacks and protein pots look set to become more popular, along with the use of super-food ingredients such as kale, green lentils and edamame beans.

Middle eastern cuisine is likely to be a key influence on menus next year, with dishes from Turkey and Lebanon gaining in popularity as chefs make more use of ingredients such as tabbouleh, falafel, halloumi and pulses.

However, economic uncertainty ahead of Britain’s exit from Europe will take its toll prompting consumers to reduce their discretionary spend next year and seek even better value for money from operators.

“While we will continue to see a number of innovative ideas and concepts coming to market the sector cannot escape the looming impact of Britain’s withdrawal from Europe which will put pressure on the price of food and equipment, energy and labour,” commented Horizons’ managing director Peter Backman.

“A potential hike in menu prices will in part be offset by an increase in overseas visitors to the UK and the fact more Brits will holiday at home due to the volatile pound. However, shaky consumer confidence will see diners seeking out deals, vouchers and money-off promotions. There is the potential for long-term positives to come out of Brexit although businesses will have to embrace change including the need to be less reliant on inexpensive labour, reducing waste and improving productivity.

“Next year will be a year of uncertainty. We anticipate that foodservice growth will continue to slow thoughout the year. Operators must remain innovative and cater for changing demand patterns,” Backman concluded. 

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