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3 must-have food trends for your autumn menus

As the foodservice sector continues to recover, make sure you’re up to date with these three trends to attract more customers to your venue

Tofu

Soy-based bean curd may have had a reputation in the past of being an ingredient for hardcore vegetarians and vegans, however, that thought is fast diminishing as plant-based diets become the buzzword on many foodies’ lips.

Tofu sales are booming. In the 12 weeks to June 2020, purchases were up a huge 87.1% and the UK tofu market is projected to have an annual growth of 14.68% from now until 2026.

Which type of tofu to use?

On its own, tofu can be bland so pair it with a powerful sauce or marinade. It comes in various textures – silken/soft, firm and more. The silken version makes a good dairy substitute and can create a tasty chocolate mousse, whereas firm tofu has more of a meaty feel and can be used in curries and kebabs, or deep-fried for a crisp texture. It’s not just for plant meals, either; it’s commonly found in pad Thai with prawns and chicken.

Try these tofu crispy nuggets for a versatile snack, lunch or starter option.

Tofu Nuggets
“14.68% annual growth is predicted in tofu sales 2021-26”
- Mordor Intelligence

You may also come across tempeh, an alternative vegan soya product that is growing in popularity. Made from fermented soybeans, tempeh is great for gut health and provides a nuttier, earthier taste than tofu.

Plant-based ice cream

It’s not only savoury vegan food that is growing in popularity; sales of vegan ice cream are also heading skywards. Mintel data shows that non-dairy alternatives make up 14% of new product launches in the UK ice cream market. Many big brands such as Magnum have now launched vegan ranges.

Be sure to capitalise on this trend on your menus. Ice cream is an easy dessert as it stores for ages in the freezer and is quick and simple to serve. Make customers feel like they are getting something special (and you can charge a premium) with layered sundaes or ice cream vegan cookie sandwiches.

Ice cream cookie sandwich

Local and sustainable

During the past 18 months, there has been a trend to support local businesses – be that the local café, the wholesaler down the road or the farmer around the corner who supplies meat to your favourite pub. Buying locally and sustainably is growing in popularity, with YouGov statistics showing that, due to Covid-19, 64% of people want to support local businesses and buy local products.

“55% would pay more for products and services from companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact”
- NielsenIQ’s corporate social responsibility survey

This trend seems especially evident in the meat industry. Despite the vegan boom, independent butchers saw strong sales during the lockdowns with red and grass-fed meat particularly in demand.

So, if you don’t already, look into sourcing local produce and ensure your customers know about its provenance. If your ingredients are local or environmentally friendly, say so proudly on your menu and website.

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