As we lurch awkwardly towards 2019, forcing it to immediately evacuate itself in fear and repulsion, we examine just some of the über trends that definitely won’t make the headlines in the coming food and drink year.
With talk of blue passports and decrepit railways now de rigueur once more, worried UK restaurateurs, driven by a rapacious thirst for innovation and bums on seats, are looking back in time for inspiration.
This is already in evidence through new openings like East London’s ‘Scab’ – an ‘experiential’ pop-up in which diners assume the guise of stoical 1970’s postal workers, forced to dodge airborne spittle and a volley of insults from a baying picket line of militant postmen, as they walk to their tables.
Needless to say, once inside the building – a disused factory space in Dalston – disappointment awaits in the form of a sub-par crab paste sandwich and notice of withdrawal of employment. One vlogger and craft beer brewer was apparently “agog with rage”.
Suckling directly from cow’s udders, forcibly removing half breached eggs from terrified hens and cracking them wantonly into your own mouth, licking pigs, running at top speed through farms, eating fistfuls of wet hay; 2019 will be the year when three mega trends – food-on-the-go, organic and foraging – collide.
Look around and you’ll see that no one has time for anything anymore. Even blinking’s a luxury nowadays. That’s probably why the ‘on-the-go’ market, with its mantra of ‘everything now’, is in such rude health. In the wake of the horse meat scandal, 2018 saw a dramatic surge in interest around organic fayre and provenance, while chefs have long scoured the hedgerows for urine-free wild garlic and berries. 2019 is the virtual crossroads at which these trends will meet, head-on, in what one Millennial blogger predicts, will resemble “an unctuous paste.”
Clamour for allergen ‘ownership’
Following the runaway success of ‘AllerJanuary 2018’ in highlighting the plight of allergen sufferers, marketing heads, clamouring for the next big occasion, have wasted no time in rebranding each month of the calendar year to recognise the 14 food allergens. Daz Clackton, senior partner at London food and drink agency, Gas, picks up the story.
“In today’s modern thought space, brands with the inspiration bandwidth for product genesis in the allergen arena, have eyeballed the mushrooming success of awareness convergences like ‘AllerJanuary’ and ‘Veganuary’ as a chance to grow mindshare with key perception partners. As a top line outtake, we can expect to zone in on yet more brands adopting months throughout the year, taking true allergen leadership in the mind/heart amalgam of brand-ethos devotees.”
In 2019 alone, we will see Egg-ruary, March-luscs, Milk-tober and Nuts-vember coming to prominence, with more rumoured.
Industry influencer, blogger, mumpreneur and vegan activist, Clemmy Farquhar-Pickton is also crowdfunding to launch: Sulphur dioxide/sulphites-where-added-and at-a-level-above-10mg/kg-or-10mg/L-in-the-finished-product – tember. Thus far her totaliser stands at zero.
Big and clever
If the success of streetfood wünderkinds like Prawnography and Mother Clucker have taught us anything it’s that when it comes to branding and making an ungodly stink on social media, smut sells. And, contrary to what your mother told you, sweary innuendo is now both big and clever.
Clackton of Gas lingers: “Swear-ification and culinary-smut are two of 2019’s biggest trends for food operators with their hands and faces firmly pressed against the innovation window. It’s cold outside and there’s limited room in the stakeholder snug, however. Take for instance the example of Haggerston burger van ‘Grab ‘Em by The Patty’ or Hackney French chicken shop ‘Massive Coq’s’ – both of which were closed before a single order was taken, following a groundswell of Millennial ‘no-platforming’.
“On the other side of the success gulf, just look at Deptford’s Burger Me Sideways – the vegan burger pop-up that is closed on Sundays, Wednesdays, Mondays, Saturdays, Thursdays, Tuesdays and Fridays, and yet regularly welcomes 100-strong queues, and Stoke Newington’s ‘Massive, Steaming Pile of Shish’ – who’s Turkish-themed single item menu apparently made a Guardian journalist weep openly.
“We call it branding ‘clever-clever’, – because when you add a another ‘clever’ to ‘clever’ it redefines what it means to be clever. Traditionally, clever means that you know stuff, but if you’re ‘clever-clever’ you just ‘know’ and get ‘it’. Whatever ‘it’ is.
Those that don’t ‘know’ will remain nutritionally and intellectually unstimulated – stuck in a dearth-spiral, trapped in an ignorance cave of their own making.”