Buying seasonal and local produce was predicted at the beginning of 2020 to be a big trend in the UK, with consumers adopting the concept when cooking at home and also looking for more seasonal dishes on menus when eating out. The trend sees people making the most out of changing ingredients throughout each season, appreciating the peak of each of the flavours and textures of produce.
This trend is rooted in other macro trends and was predicted to grow for a number of reasons in 2020. Firstly, with the onset of Brexit amongst other things, there was a less predictable import market and potential for increased import costs. Secondly, consumers are becoming more aware about sustainability, including food miles and carbon footprints associated with what we are eating. Consumers are also looking to eat less meat and so are turning to vegetables to be the central point of meals, with tasty in-season and local vegetables often hitting this spot.
Despite this promising trend, many of the of the predicted food trends for 2020 were scrapped in March, with the exponential spread of Coronavirus, onset of lockdown and the subsequent closure of restaurants. However, the trend of seasonality not only proved resilient but actually saw an accelerated growth in the wake of Covid.
The start of the Coronavirus spread saw panic buying and food shortages, with many consumers buying anything that was left on the sparse supermarket shelves, it initially looked like a pause on the seasonality trend. However, global supply chain interruptions and border closures meant that much of what was available was produced locally, and thus in season. We became more adventurous in the kitchen, trying out new vegetables we may not have tried before whilst creating new recipes and meals using store-cupboard essentials. In addition, many local farm shops and delivery box companies began to increase production of whatever was in season to meet the increased demand, as well as cafes and pubs pivoting to become greengrocers fast-tracking the movement to buy locally and seasonally and support for local businesses.
From larger allotments, to vegetable patches in gardens and even windowsill wonders, many of us have utilised our spare time in lockdown to turn to home-grown produce. Not only is this doing our part for the environment, but we are getting to appreciate the extra flavour on our plate from fresher food, with this expecting to continue into the future with a resurgence of artisan growers favouring exciting new varieties and ‘picked today’ local produce.
Looking forward post-lockdown, consumers are no longer looking for menus which remain constant when eating out. It is more desirable for consumers to have menus with dishes that change weekly, in line with what is in season locally. Chefs can plan dishes ahead based on what will be in season each month, creating exciting new menu creations for customers.
Has this inspired you to try some seasonal produce? Look out for the following UK-produced fruit and vegetables this June and get cooking:
- Globe artichoke
- New potatoes
- See more here, including for the rest of the year