THE ARRIVAL of a shiny, new year also means that just a few weeks remain until the Product of the Year Awards 2018.
The winners will of course stay a closely guarded secret until the event on January 25, but you can bet that many of the prize-winning products will prove that some of the edgiest food trends of recent years are taking a turn into the mainstream.
So what will we be buying in the next 12 months? Here’s some of the things that will be rattling around in every on-trend trolley …
Finding a sweet spot
When it comes to the edible hall of shame, sugar is surely centre-stage. It’s no wonder that alternative sweeteners are coming into their own. Swapping out the sweet stuff has becoming top priority for food innovators with honey, agave nectar, fruit juice and stevia all being used instead.
It’s been big news for the last couple of years, but in 2018 expect non-sugar sweeteners to move into the mainstream as some of our best-loved brands find a new sweet spot.
If you’ve heard of Seedlip, the high-end tippled billed as the non-alcoholic alternative to gin, you’ll know that booze-free beverages are about to have a moment. Health-conscious millennials are leading this storm of sobriety, so expect things to get a whole lot more interesting in the soft drinks aisle.
Home-made with help
Thanks to recipe-kits, you can now make everything from cakes and puddings to stir-fries and stews at home but have all the hard work already done for you. What would once have been seen as cheating has now been spun into time-saving savviness. Not so much a trend as a shift in the way we eat – even if only once or twice a week. In 2018, you’ll find some kind of kit in every cupboard or fridge.
Packing a pouch
Ready-made pouches of pulses have crept onto supermarket shelves in recent years and expect that trend to continue, with sales of lentils, chick peas, beans and quinoa set to explode of the year ahead. Running alongside the trend for vegan food, it’s all power to the pulse in 2018.
Storm in a teacup
When everyone went bonkers for the coffee bean, tea sort of got left behind. That’s set to change over the next 12 months, with tea bars taking a (harvested) leaf from the coffee shop trend. Alongside the traditional cuppa, expect your cup to overflow with all kinds of new flavours and a mind-boggling array of tea bags to jostle for space on the hot drinks shelves.
Throwing away food is so 2015. This year it is all about transforming your leftovers into new, more inventive meals. Open a 2018 freezer and you should find, frozen leftover bananas, diced veg and blitzed breadcrumbs. If your freezer is still full of fish-fingers and ice cream, you’re falling behind.
We still use loads of plastic, and there’s no point pretending otherwise. But after the BBC’s recent Blue Planet II series there was a huge public awakening about what plastic is doing to our oceans.
Expect people to be looking for ways to move away from plastic in 2018, and they’ll be looking to the companies they trust to lead the way. The products that find a way to replace plastic packaging will be the winners in the years ahead.