As we bring in the new year, UK-based supplier EHL Ingredients – which imports, blends, and packs food ingredients from around the world – highlights its top food trends for 2020.
What’s on the menu? Healthy eating, convenience, allergen awareness, and making meat-free more accessible, according to EHL Ingredients joint managing director Tasneem Alonzo.
Making meat-free more accessible
The plant-based boom shows no sign of slowing down, and EHL predicts that meat-free and plant-based foods will continue their popularity during 2020.
In particular, the supplier noted that plant-based junk food items, such as pizzas, burgers, and kebabs, are becoming increasingly mainstream. These vegan alternatives have infiltrated retail, restaurants, casual dining and fast food outlets, pop up stalls and markets, as well as food and music festivals.
EHL says that consumers following a vegan lifestyle are driving this trend, alongside campaigns such as Veganuary, and televised media. “But year-round, there are consumers who follow a flexitarian diet and often choose to eat meat-free for health and environmental reasons,” noted EHL.
The Stockport-headquartered firm suggested it is important that food manufacturers and producers develop new products that fit into taste trends. Such trends can, of course, change during the course of the year.
“Roasted cauliflower was one of the hero vegan dishes of 2019, but we’re expecting ingredients like jackfruit, tempeh, seitan, and plant-base meat replacements to appear much more frequently on supermarket shelves and on restaurant menus.”
According to joint managing director Tasneem Alonzo, EHL can provide herbs, spices, seasonings and blends for brands and manufacturers looking to develop new plant-based and meat-free products.
“Foods such as vegan paté or ‘faux-gras’, veggie black pudding, meat-free pies, pasties, sausages and plant-based burgers will be in demand during 2020 so it’s key to trial and test products before you launch them to market, to ensure they are hitting all the key notes in terms of flavour, texture, aroma, convenience and overall satisfaction,” said Alonzo.
Eat healthily, naturally
Another trend here to stay, according to EHL, is healthy eating. “Wellbeing, self-care, natural and mindful eating are still important buzzwords in the food industry, with new products launching to fit into these trends.”
Organic herbs and spices fall under the ‘self-care’ and mindful eating categories, the supplier continued, citing healthy ingredients such as turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger.
“There’s no need for healthy offerings to be boring or difficult to create as long as you have good quality ingredients and look to international foods for inspiration,” said Alonzo.
“Include healthy, natural ingredients such as seeds, pulses and nuts for added nutrients, protein, fibre and healthy fats to sweet and savoury baked goods, biscuits and crackers, flavoured snacks, and even salads. Invest in organic alternatives where possible for a premium positioning, and to create a point of differentiation in the marketplace.”
With consumers increasingly eating on the go and professionals eating at their desk, convenience foods are on the rise. This sector also covers meal kits for home cooking, fresh or frozen meals, ingredient and food grocery boxes, and home delivery.
“Technology is enhancing people’s eating experiences and injecting new energy into at-home dining,” said Alonzo. “Whether people prefer to order for home delivery, experiment with organic ingredients, try new world foods, or just spice up evening meals, offering consumers quality foods and ingredients, value for money and convenience is a winning combination.
Allergen awareness and traceability
Allergen awareness is high up on the agenda for food manufacturers and foodservice operators alike.
In the UK, allergies are on the rise. Today, around 7% of children in the UK are affected by allergies, and hospital admissions for children suffering from allergic reactions have increased every year for the past five years.
According to EHL, many challenges can prevent themselves during the course of food production and handling, such as cross-contamination of ingredients. Being able to trace food ingredients and components back to their original source is also key, the supplier noted. This “has become increasingly important within allergen management”.
EHL takes precautions to ensure there is no cross-contamination during the handling of its ingredients, said joint managing director Alonzo.
“We have overhauled our production lines to completely segregate ingredients containing allergens and non-allergen products and installed new machinery to reduce risks of cross-contamination of products,” he explained.
“It means we can operate more efficiently and speed up production, offer a quicker turnaround, and deliver products to our customers in shorter lead times. It will also help catering operators, food manufacturers, and chefs to protect consumers against potential allergic reactions.”