Trend watch at Food & Drink Expo 2018 - William Murray

Our personal highlights from the Food & Drink Expo 2018, at the NEC Birmingham.

The flavour trends coming to a menu near you

At the Innovative Food Ingredients stand, we got the low down from Michael Rawsthorne – product manager at AVO – about the flavours set for big growth. He told us black garlic is very on trend, driven in part by the free-from and health and wellbeing megatrends – being both gluten-free and packed with antioxidants. Speciality/named chillies are also very popular, and we’re seeing more of both coffee and alcohol flavourings for meat.

Speciality Bhut Jolokia and Kashmiri chillies were also red hot over at Anmol’s stand, where they were serving up mango and guava drinks with a chilli powder kick to show off how the flavour of chillies can complement unexpected ingredients, such as fruit juice.

No added nasties… Just natural, clean ingredients

The show boasted a number of ingredient companies showcasing how their products can deliver colour, flavour, and taste but without added ‘nasties’ like additives and sugar – with fruit and vegetables being the main source. These products are now in higher demand than ever from both manufacturers and the foodservice industry. Exberry told us their latest insight found 67% of consumers are looking for easy to understand ingredient information.

While Diana Food has launched a new range called Garden, which focuses on elevating taste through the freshness of food harvested straight from the ground. ‘This isn’t just any old carrot broth, it’s Garden Picked Carrot Broth…’

Sustainability / Single origin

And ethically produced and sustainably sourced food and drink continues to be a dominant factor for both trade and consumers. We heard all about the growing trend for single origin chocolate from Casa Luker, which sources and supplies high quality chocolate from Columbia. And Columbia only. Its uncompromising products don’t mix cacao or chocolate sourced from multiple countries (which apparently the majority of others do)

Mocktails & alcohol-free

A very deserving winner of the Great New Idea Award at Food & Drink Expo 2018 was Belvoir Fruit Farm’s amazing botanical Juniper & Tonic – a delightfully refreshing, non-alcoholic alternative to the much-loved G&T. A perfect pairing of the gin explosion and trend for reduced alcohol consumption.

And the guys over on Equinox’ stand were having a great time sampling their award-winning 100% natural, low calorie Kombucha – and spreading the word that it’s organic, vegan friendly, and rich in antioxidants. The perfect healthy non-alcoholic drink!

And for those that don’t want to go completely alcohol-free but want to drink more responsibly, the new lager brand Skinny is on the money. At 89 calories, it’s lower in sugar and has 30% fewer calories than normal lager. It’s also low carb, gluten-free and vegan friendly – and we heard from fellow visitors at the show that you cannot taste the difference between a Skinny lager and any of the leading bottled lagers sold up and down the country. So, everyone’s a winner…

Brands with a twist

And the award for the cleverest stand at the show goes to Icelandic newcomer to the UK– GlacierFire. When you see white smoke coming from an exhibition stand, you instinctively think it’s on fire. But on closer inspection, it was completely safe and merely demonstrating how Glacierfire’s artisanal drinks (water, beer, vodka etc.) are crafted from the purest Icelandic glacial spring water from the belly of a great Icelandic volcano.

Other highlights…

Beautifully instagrammable swirls of brightly coloured, light-as-a-feather meringues from Flower & White

A potent superfood hit with artisan herb purees from Herb It

So, with appetite and hunger for insight and trends both sated, we spied the perfect antidote for a long day on the feet (and stomach). Life’s a beach, as they say…


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