As a leading food and drink marketing agency specialising in both out of home and retail, we eagerly anticipate the quarterly Lumina Intelligence briefings.

These sessions play a vital role in keeping us well-informed about the most recent developments and emerging trends in the foodservice industry, allowing us to best inform client strategy. The latest forum from the Lumina team did not disappoint, with the very insightful debrief followed by the cult-status Food Safari around Borough Market – it’s safe to say we all left with a lot of food for thought and very full but happy tummies!

Following the Food Strategy Forum debrief, I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 key insights that I’d like to share with you:

  • Low to no is on the rise, with the consumption of non-alcoholic drinks growing in market share this year. This is driven by the increasing number of ‘non-drinkers’ in the 25-34 age category, creating a space for new innovation to thrive.
  • Plant-based menus are still important but not as prominent as we thought. The surge we’ve seen in recent years has slowed, with other concepts taking the lead.
  • Coffee shops, cafés, fast food, and sandwich & bakery are among the strongest performing channels, with forecasts predicting double-digit turnover growth vs. 2019. These channels are capitalising on opportunities for new sites in travel hubs and out-of-town locations, as well as driving value growth through digitalisation and range developments aligned with consumer trends around affordable luxuries, with consumers shifting towards convenient and low-ticket meal solutions.
  • Nando’s leads the branded restaurant outlet share at over 10%.
  • Venues are exploring different avenues to ensure growth and to help them excel in the market. This includes:
    1. Expansion into retail (read our blog on omni-channel expansion here!)
    2. Menu simplification
    3. Broad appeal across dayparts
    4. Focusing on value-led offerings

This is to combat ingredient shortages and inflation, as well as boosting consumer appeal.

  • An emerging trend is brands specialising and perfecting one specific cuisine or product. More than half of the top 10 branded restaurants focus on traditional comfort foods, such as fried chicken, pizza, and burgers.
    1. Similarly, brands that tap into the consumer trend of flavour tourism, where there is an increasing demand for global cuisine-inspired propositions, such as Mowgli or Karak Chaii are introducing Indian street food concepts, satisfying adventurous food enthusiasts.
    2. Many branded restaurants such as Mowgli, Nando’s and Wagamama’s are prioritising sustainability initiatives, actively working towards net-zero emissions and conscious consumption.
  • Pubs, hotels, and restaurants are making the most of the recent good weather, utilising their outdoor space and capitalising on the consumer desire to enjoy a pub garden.
  • Familiar and value-led brands are top performers:
    1. Greggs is enhancing its customer experience through digital innovations.
    2. Nando’s has successfully expanded into the retail space with a range of peri-peri sauces.
    3. Gail’s is expanding through their partnership with Waitrose, along with several drive-through locations planned to open, tapping into the opportunity of commuter traffic.
  • CBD infused coffee is beginning to take off and will be seen more and more this year. The pairing is believed to reduce the side effects of caffeine including stress and anxiety.
  • It comes as no surprise that experience-led dining remains popular, with competitive socialising concepts gaining traction in the pub and bar sector. The occasions are unique, entertaining and encourage increased spend and dwell time.

As part of the forum, the team also shared some innovative restaurants, locations and dining experiences that are maximising the concepts above. See the trends in action with the below:

  • BOXHALL, Bristol – due to open in Summer’24 on Bristol Harbourside, the venue will be experience-led, offer premium products, and highlight the provenance of local produce.
  • De Nadas, Shoreditch – their specialised offering focuses on Empanadas and doing them extremely well. The high-quality, authentic Argentinian pastry ticks the box for grab-and-go, while the team also offers a private wine-pairing for premium-led consumers.
  • The Spread Eagle, Homerton – this innovative concept specialises in sustainability and produces minimal waste. Their seasonal offering of both food and drink ensures the menu is cost-effective and consumers can benefit from high-quality ingredients.
  • A Bar with Shapes for a Name, Hackney – This unique and innovative concept puts the emphasis on taste rather than labels or brands. With no branded bottles, all offerings are chosen through blind taste testing.
  • WIYO, Warrington – the first Chinese QSR drive-through, aiming to be the ‘McDonald’s’ of Asian cuisine. The menu features both classic British-Chinese takeaway staples as well as fusion dishes such as battered spring rolls.
  • Otherworld, Birmingham & London – Maximising on the trend of competitive socialising, the virtual reality bar concept provides a truly immersive experience with the use of heat, air, vibrations, and scent effects. Gaming is also reward driven as users win ‘DreamCoin’ which can be used to gain discounts at the bar.
  • OATIS, Notting Hill – the specialised offering champions oats, across both sweet and savoury dishes. At the core of OATIS are wholesome high-quality ingredients from local suppliers.
  • Badiani Gelato, Balham – Badiani Gelato highlights the growing demand for affordable indulgence. The artisanal Italian gelateria is expanding into the evening daypart too, and will be the first to serve fresh, made-to-order pasta. The brand offers exclusive gelato tastings with wine pairings, as well as 24hr delivery, ticking the box for a round-the-clock experience.

After the very insightful debrief, we then headed over to Borough Market for a Food Safari, where we visited:

  • The Black Pig specialising in Italian pork and cheese toasted ciabatta sandwiches, this team of chefs are aiming to make the best sandwich in London. We tried their honey truffle and parmesan pork sandwich, which certainly impressed with its rich and indulgent flavours.
  • We then headed over to London Cider House, which was recently founded by three cider makers and a cider merchant, where we sampled a selection of their famous ciders – our favourite was the light sparkling cider reminiscent of a summery champagne
  • Bread Ahead Bakery is famed for their world-famous doughnuts which tap into the trend of indulgent sweet treats. This bakery was founded in 2013 serving up fresh breads and doughnuts and has been on many London ‘must-visit’ lists since. After trying their Caramel and Honeycomb doughnuts, there’s no doubt in my mind as to why it’s such a popular spot!
  • Juma kitchen specialises in Iraqi cuisine and is dubbed Borough Market’s best kept secret. During our visit, we tried out the ‘Knafa’, a baked cheese dessert topped with shredded filo pastry, blossom water and pistachios – nothing like I’ve ever tasted before but without doubt absolutely delicious!
  • After this, we headed to Arthur Hoopers – a modern Mediterranean restaurant to try a selection of their dishes including beef carpaccio with parmesan, burrata with samphire, confit garlic and almonds.
  • Finally, we headed to the beautiful Casa do Frango specialising in Portuguese cuisine with just enough room to squeeze in some Piri-Piri chicken, Salgadinhos (empanadas with kale and onion), Bacalhau fritters (salt cod fritters) and African rice.

We want to take this opportunity to thank the team at Lumina for taking us through such an insightful debrief and for the delicious Food Safari that followed! You can see highlights from the day on our jellybean socials @jellybeanagency