FMT hears from a supermarket, a grocery researcher and an ingredients supplier to discover the key food trends industry is predicting for 2018.

According to Waitrose:

Indian street food

Say ‘namaste’ to tapas-style Indian street food. Forget heavy sauces and chicken tikka masala, this trend is about smoked, grilled or seared delicacies, such as scallops in pickled ginger. The cuisine lends itself to hybrids, such as spiced burgers or lamb keema tacos.

Dashed trollies

The future of supermarkets looks likely to be an experiential retail space – immersive hubs where shopping is only one of the activities on offer. With fewer consumers doing a big weekly shop this could mean the supersize trolley’s days are numbered. Just a few years ago, an average Waitrose would open with around 200 big trolleys and 150 shallow ‘daily shopper’ trolleys lined up outside. These days the tables have turned, with 250 shallow ‘daily shoppers’ and just 70 big trolleys required.

Plant proteins

The demand for high protein foods continues. Whether with pulses, shoots, grains, seeds, soy or even algae, everyone from tiny start-up companies to big brands is looking for new ways to add a protein punch.

Fourth meal

There is growing evidence that consumers are starting to squeeze a small, fourth meal into their daily routine rather than sticking to breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is about adapting eating schedules to busy lives. For example, if a consumer is going to the gym after work, they might have a salad mid-afternoon before their dinner.

Japanese food

Sharing dishes favoured in Japan’s izakaya bars are expected to become a big thing. Whether it’s yakitori skewered chicken or deep-fried tofu in broth, the trend will combine the hearty ‘dude food’ of the southern US states with the unctuous, rich and surprising flavours of after-hours Tokyo.

According to IGD:

Premiumisation of private label

The growing investment in own brand products to create a high-quality offer is increasing the demand for ranges that meet shoppers’ needs for excellent value and great quality. Indeed, 75% of UK shoppers now believe the quality of private label products has improved over the last couple of years.

Private label ranges are an area in which retailers can differentiate themselves in an increasingly complex and competitive retail market. Brands will have to ensure their products are superior to justify the price.

Becoming hyperlocal

The desire to have links to local regions and buy local products is expected increase. This approach should result in retailers selling produce that will only be available for a short period of time, due to seasonality and availability.

It should also introduce greater variation for shoppers but create more complexity within the supply chain. As stores aim to rotate produce and range more often there will be greater collaboration within the supply chain.

Health and wellness

Retailers are expected to expand designated zones in-store and develop lifestyle-focused formats. Retailers are also expected to offer more tailored lifestyle choices online.

Vegetarian, flexitarian, better-for-you, free from and clean-living labels will continue to be among the fastest growing and will be a priority investment area. As mainstream retailers continue to create an appealing offer in health and wellness, specialist retailers in this area could become increasingly challenged.

Omnichannel shopping

Physical stores are having to work harder than ever before to bring shoppers through the front door. Pressure is mounting for retailers to cater to the rise of the ‘omnichannel shopper’ by offering a shopping experience that blends online, offline and big data.

According to Eurostar Commodities and BiteUK:


Many businesses are expected to prepare for a hard Brexit and seek out alternative supply chains predominantly with old commonwealth countries. As these new agreements are made trade could be seen with New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, India and Canada.

Instead of Seville oranges expect to see oranges from South Africa, and perhaps other citrus such as the Calamondin.


Brands will continue to include vegan as a pillar in new product development. It is thought that vegan will perform at a higher level than organic during 2018.


It is anticipated that turmeric will come centre stage as a named and lead ingredient.

Known as the spice that gives curry its yellow colour, turmeric is mildly aromatic and has scents of orange or ginger. It contains curcuminoid compounds with medicinal properties that have anti-inflammatory effects and is an antioxidant.

Health snacking

The British public is wise to hidden sugars and salts and wants to eat different formats and healthier ingredients. Healthy snacks catering for specialist diets are likely to come into the mainstream because texture and taste has improved significantly.

Green and purple pizza

Pizza bases made from vegetable flours are expected to grow and feature strongly, tying in with the gluten free trend that will continue to grow using natural ingredients. These alternative flours are made from beetroot and spinach.

Asian fusion

Asian fusion has been around for years but what will happen differently is the proliferation of home cooking and usage. The combination of great flavour, consumers looking for healthier dinner options and the ready availability of core Asian ingredients on the high street will bring these more exotic dishes into people’s homes for midweek meals.

Brown rice

Only a few years ago you’d have to go to a specialist shop to find brown rice, but as part of the health trend people are turning to it as a healthy carbohydrate. It is expected to start appearing more on restaurant menus, in sushi rolls in various options on the supermarket shelf.

Brown rice contains 88% of the recommended daily amount of manganese, has anti-inflammatory properties and is filling.