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Foodservice trends to look forward to in 2018

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India today is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and is on its way to becoming a US $3.8 trillion dollar economy by 2021.

The country’s economic dynamics are playing out in force and the imprints are visible all over: the ever-evolving consumer demands, rapid urbanization, favourable demographics, increased disposable income, more women in workspace and changing lifestyles and food habits. All of these economic factors have ushered in a scenario where the foodservice industry is changing every quarter and there are ripples of disruptive changes coursing through the market.

Here are the few trends which the who’s who of the foodservice industry believe will rule in 2018:-

1Rahul Singh, President, NRAI and Owner, The Beer Cafe

The thing to note is that people across the world now want gourmet food to be healthy and Instagrammable. Everybody is thinking about their guts and their waistlines. But this does not mean any foodie has to compromise on taste. The world is full of innovative chefs, and they’ll ensure that food is appetizing as well as healthy. The consumers will prefer opting for:-
– Edible flowers and floral flavours like elder flower, hibiscus and lavender
– Exotic flavours like harissa, zaatar and cardamom
– Plant-based dishes like barley, flax seeds and quinua.
– Root to stem eating
– Super foods and healthy options – There is a lot of talk about millets internationally so of course, people in India will take notice. Besides, many are choosing to go gluten free and thus, turning to other grains. Millets will soon become cool.

2Zorawar Kalra, Founder & Managing Director, Massive Restaurants Pvt. Ltd

The industry is moving forward by moving back! In my opinion in 2018, the industry will see the diners having a preference for classic dishes instead the more commercial one. In my restaurants, the classic dishes are re-invented with a twist. For instance, I see the humble ’Khichdi’ making a comeback adorned with various exotic vegetables. In our kitchens, we use more seasonal and locally produced vegetables. So, 2018 will definitely serve more vegetarian and healthier options.

Beyond just food trends, I think dessert parlours are slated to score big in 2018. They have already begun sprouting up everywhere. I foresee ice-cream parlours and waffle centres coming up in a big way the coming year. Keeping this in mind, I think that international dessert sections will come into play. For instance, dish-centric parlours, which serve a special ice cream with a special cone, could catch people’s fancy. I even see the entire menu revolving around such desserts. In my restaurants, we plan to introduce new flavours of ice creams and fresh fruit sorbets.

In 2017, there has also been a visible change in the palate of people across the globe. Increased exposure to different countries and cultures has resulted in adaptations and amalgamations. The biggest trend which is encouraging for restaurateurs and chefs is the growing need for innovation, which largely stems from the well-travelled and heeled diner’s hunger for experimentation, wanting something exquisite owing to their exposure as well as their willingness to spend, exploring newer experiences in the dining space. Some key trends which seem to be catching up and I expect will become big in the coming year are – Farm to Table, Tapas, Fresh produce, Molecular Gastronomy and Progressive cuisine.

The time in which the industry started booming, 14 -15 years ago. The international market is highly saturated but the Indian market fairly nascent, I think post 2002 – 03 we have seen an increase in the demand for eating out. In fact, it is now that Indians have made it a primary form of entertainment to eat out. The restaurant business in India is now 40x times larger than of Bollywood. It is an amazingly fast growing scale, the size is huge and it a huge opportunity as it is going to be a 70 billion dollar market by the end of this year. So, overall I think the prospects are huge of this industry in the coming years.

3Priyank Sukhija, CEO and MD, First Fiddle Restaurants

Artistic Interiors – One thing which I feel 2018 would not compromise on at all is interiors. As a restaurateur I feel, first look of the interiors of the restaurant can bind the customers. The experience of finesse and craftsmanship is what attracts the customers the most.

Cult Innovative Drinks – Gone are the days when customers used to enjoy normal cocktails. Only thing that rules the dining landscape is innovation. Fusion drinks with neo classic and spherical techniques are picking up the momentum.

Progressive Food – When we talk about the popularity, it is surely North Indian food which continues to be the favourite of the consumers. However, as far as much travelled consumers are concerned Indian food with a twist – Progressive Nostalgia – is gaining popularity. I feel food with fusion flavours, international food with flavours to suit Indian palette are going find their way to the gastronomy world. Ingredient based cooking, healthy cooking techniques, guilt-free salads and soups, grilled food, food with ingredients like Quinoa, Ragi etc will find their way on the menu.

Event Stage Goes Bigger and Better – When customers step out, they step out for an experience. Hence, not only food, drinks and interiors but entertainment gigs also attract the customers equally.

Social Media – In the world dominated by social media, looks determine the success of anything. So food which is Instagram worthy, will surely be a hit in 2018.

4Vikrant Batra, Owner, Nueva and Cafe Delhi Heights

Stand-alone Fine Dining – 2018 will see a growth in the stand-alone fine dining sector. Right now most of the fine dining restaurants are in a five star property, very handful are in a stand alone format, here is a vacuum in this space which hopefully will start filling in. 2018 will be more about the experiential dining, which is what fine dining stands for.

Comfort Food – Of late we are already seeing comfort food taking over the globe and I am sure 2018 will follow the same. No matter what is the format of the restaurant, comfort food will be the key aspect. Besides elevating comfort food to fine dining, chefs are tweaking the entire definition of what comfort food even is.

Increase in Casual Dining Restaurant Format – Other than fine dining we will also see a growth in the CDR sector. The food is moderately priced and the ambience is more casual.

Tier II cities Will Be The High Potential Market – The Tier II cities are growing in an unprecedented rate. A new wave of non-metro cities is rapidly closing in on the eight metros in terms of consumption, media penetration and investment opportunities, emerging as key target markets for businesses. Here there is a great gap between demand-side consumption and supply-side penetration.

Luxury Bar – The bar scenario is ever shifting, some bar concepts that once seemed too niche or simply a gimmick have proven to be bankable and popular. Luxury Bar is one concept that will soon pick up in 2018. It will be a perfect balance between cocktails, food and music.

5Amuleek Singh Bijral, Founder CEO, Chai Point

– Being desi is the new black. Authentic desi food and beverage will dominate the taste palate of Indian consumers in 2018 as they look for more authentic tastes.

– Customer experience will be led by a balanced combination of offline, online and packaging of the service.

– Tech as a way to provide frictionless experience for the customers will gather more momentum. Offline and online channels will merge in giving the customers a strong experience and engagement around the brand.

– At the same time, customers will be seeking a high experience without losing sensibility around the value and quality of the product served to them.

– Appreciation of offline will continue to rise in the eyes of the investors’ community and increasingly we will see a brand’s strength/ valuation being judged on their Omnichannel presence.

6Sameer Lamba, Managing Director, Kwal’s Group

– The consumers are becoming health conscious and prefer eating healthy.

– Full-service dining is coming back in full swing. The customers enjoy being served on the table.

– Drinking habits have gone up and customers love to go to restaurants where alcohol is served.

– New location hubs like Cyber Hub, where a number of restaurants are coming together and pulling in footfall, are expected to grow in 2018.

– Traffic in malls for eating out is coming down.

7Umang Tewari, Owner, Big Fish Ventures

The food and beverage industry is always in a state of evolution. It always is on constant mode of bringing new things, new menus, new concept and new ambience. The industry has evolved from the more traditional concepts to more international concepts. Thanks to the much-evolved customers, customers like to experiment new things and this gives a way to come up with new and exciting restaurants.

Also, it is the world of Social Media where international trends are available at the tips and have almost hit the domestic market massively. 2018 will belong to concept restaurants.

Apart from the quality of food, the concept and interiors of the place will be playing pivotal role in making the place a hit among the customers. The furnishings, music, lights, décor- whatever you choose should make customer comfortable in his surroundings.

2017 totally belonged to international flavours whereas 2018 will belong to experimental audience as the exposure to international cuisines has increased. At the same time 2018 can also see lot of fusion flavours merging with Indian palate.

2018 would also see the trend of plating and presentation. Food presentation is very important. It has the capability to increase the appetite and adds to the dining experience. Using the finest cutlery, with right portion of serving on plate are very important key elements while plating .

Casual Dining industry will continue to boom it caters to both masses and classes at the same time and also has something to offer for age groups.

2018 also gonna see event stage bigger. The scale of events and live performances are on continuous stage of evolvement.

8Dinesh Arora, Managing Director, DNJ Hospitality

2018 is all about innovation and revolution. Concept interiors and concept brands will emerge this year. Thanks to much travelled customers, people are becoming prone to the idea of trying new things. The collision of cuisines, and introduction of never seen gastronomy before will become the latest trend.

Indian cuisines will also come to the forefront. This is the year for regional Indian restaurants to come up. We will see a lot more food from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and possibly, Kashmir taking the centerstage.

Mixology, which has already been in great demand, is expected to grow manifolds in the coming year. This resurgence of mixology might mean that that neighbourhood bar may have a better selection of gins.

9Varun Puri, Owner, Viva Hospitality

Powder Power – Turmeric is going to take over almost all of your drinks. Kale, roots of vegetables and herbs are going to take over the much-consumed protein powder.

Regional Cuisines – You can expect more restaurants focusing on cuisines from the Northeast and the tribal belt of India, and even specialty restaurants that serve the foods from Odisha, Chhatisgarh and Himachal Pradesh.

Plant-based Dishes- Zucchini pastas and noodles have already arrived, to the extreme pleasure of Indian vegetarians, vegans and health freaks. 2018 promises to deliver more plant-based dishes.

Floral Desserts – Sounds weird and yum at the same time? Yes, this trend is going to be a rage this year. Herbs and spices are a thing of the past, it’s time to embrace a softer and cosier flavour. Imagine eating a sunflower cheesecake or a carnation chocolate cake.

10Inderjeet Singh Banga, Owner, Pirates of Grill and Prankster

I see the trend of visual merchandising making its way into restaurants, till now it is only the fashion world which has been displaying their brand ethos through merchandising. Restaurants will take take the game forward this year.

I see a lot of spaces coming up with international appeal where the finest possible design elements and materials shall be used but in a very casual way.

Modern classic cocktails or classic cocktails with a twist will make a way in 2018. As far as food is concerned, I see more focus on ingredient-based cooking rather than any specific cuisine in restaurants.

11Manish Sharma, Owner, Molecule and Chef Vaibhav Bhargava, Molecule

Over the last few years we have seen many food trends which are revolving around the needs of the customers concentrating on health, community and the environment. The trends have revolved from molecular gastronomy to small bites food presented in a new way which looks spectacular with your eyes and taste well too but year 2018 will be different as foodservice industry has evolved a lot in last few months.

2018 will be a year of vegan and local cuisine as the demand for local and seasonal produce will grow.

This year we saw lot of home chefs showcasing their regional cuisines and this year this trend will grow bigger as home chefs and consumers will take it to social media.

Nonalcoholic drinks will create a bench mark this year as chefs are also working with lot of ideas and pairing the drinks with food.

Meal in a bowl will create a huge buzz as people really don’t have time and these days people look for quick options at economical prices.

12Chef Amit Sinha, L’Opera

In terms of trends for the year 2018, the bakery industry in India will be even more competitive, provide a variety of offerings, and furnish new experiences to a fast-evolving, increasingly perceptive and demanding clientele.

We will probably see an increase in the range of gluten-free products – both in breads and cakes – the demand for which has already increased significantly. Moreover, people will be increasingly conscious and inquisitive about what goes in their food, whether it is ethically sourced, and their ingredients.

For the health-conscious Indian, cakes and pastries with sugar substitutes such as Stevia or honey will also be in higher demand. The best-sellers probably will stay on top as they are strongly associated with French Pâtisseries, but some newcomers may enter the field.

13Manuj M Gupta, Owner, The Darzi Bar and Kitchen

– Use of technology to enhance the customer experience in dining and hospitality.

– Healthy food

– Cocktails will be a huge hit

– Back to the classics in terms of food presentation and plating.

14Rahul Sawhney, Owner, Mealodrama

– Cocktail mixology is a huge trend to look forward to in 2018.

– 2018 will also see going back to the Classics in terms of food.

– Experimentation with lot of ingredients will also rule in 2018.

15Chef Meet Singh Malhotra, Consultant, Ministry Of Beer

Use Of Local Produce – Chefs are now focusing on using maximum local produce in their menus. The farmers association markets also organised every weekends around the city. These markets have now become a direct source of Farm to Plate for the consumers.

Advanced Contemporary Take On Regional Food – 2017 saw a lot of twist done to regional food from different states of India at various restaurants across the city. I believe this will further continue in 2018 with advanced level of contemporary twists given to the classic dishes by the chefs.