EHL Ingredients has revealed its top food ingredients trend predictions for 2017 for catering success in the new year.
Consumers of all ages are becoming increasingly experimental with new dishes, and research from Mintel suggests 60% of 16 to 34-year-olds enjoy trying new cooking trends, ingredients and products.
New food regions
Consumers' love for world flavours is continuing to grow and the multicultural diversity of the UK population is bringing emerging cuisines to the high street, creating demand for caterers and chefs to provide a wider variety of international foods. This has resulted in lesser-known cuisines being brought into the spotlight.
EHL has seen an increase in demand for spice blends and ingredients for Indonesian, Korean, and Cuban dishes and predicts this will continue in 2017. EHL's leading favourites from 2016 included its Cuban sazon complete seasoning, Korean BBQ seasoning and Indonesian fish curry powder.
Tasneem Backhouse, joint managing director at EHL Ingredients, said: "Asian cuisine remains a popular choice, but there are alternative regions with new flavour combinations coming to the fore, such as from Korea and Indonesia. The Caribbean is also receiving more attention from consumers, and is a melting pot of cultures and cuisines."
Chickpeas rule the roost
Mintel reports that sales of free-from foods have increased by 13% since 2015, as consumers are adopting diets such as gluten-free for the health benefits, not just medical reasons. For foodservice chefs and caterers looking to tap into this market and rebuild a healthy reputation for products such as bread, pulses are a solution. Chickpea flour is a wheat flour substitute that has risen into the limelight this year and EHL predicts it will continue in 2017.
Chickpea flour is gluten-free, high in protein, and high in iron and fibre. Adding a nutty taste to bread recipes, the ingredient also binds well in recipes and creates a consistent texture, which can be a struggle in gluten-free baking.
Backhouse said: "Using alternative ingredients, such as chickpea flour, in breads can raise a product's health credentials and enhance its appeal. We expect a lot more alternative flours to be incorporated into gluten-free products in the bakery sector and across wider food products."
Spicing up soups and meal kits
Soup's healthy image has made it a mainstay in the British food market all year round, but there are opportunities to further its popularity. With spices regularly receiving positive media coverage, spicing up traditional soup recipes with ingredient blends can help to amplify the product's appeal and create distinctive and delicious new flavours.
EHL suggests its aromatic Japanese style noodle seasoning to put a ramen-style twist on traditional soup recipes; its paprika, garlic and lemon blend for Spanish-style soup; its Jamaican jerk seasoning for West Indian chicken soup; and spicy vegetable soup seasoning for potato and kale soup.
Backhouse says: "We've seen an increase in spice blends for soup recipes with international twists and expect to see more outlets expand their ranges and become more experimental with blends from across the globe. There is an emergence of popular home delivery services offering Mexican favourites, such as fajitas and quesadillas, but there's increasingly more options for consumers, such as home delivery Thai and Goan curries, Moroccan tagines, Spanish tapas and BBQ marinades, and other international dishes.
"Caterers can capitalise on these developing trends to ensure they are meeting consumer demand in 2017 and beyond."