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#BizTrends2018: Conscious consumption

I'm not that big on food trends, to be honest. I find gimmicks and 'flavour of the month' offerings a very slippery slope. That said, I do think established chefs, producers and industry thought-leaders who have the ability to change with the times are critical for the industry.
It’s these people that keep the inspiration flowing and keep the entire movement going in the right direction. Here are some key focal points that I think will be explored more locally in 2018:

Image by Craig Kolesky

1. Flavoured water

With various overseas brands achieving massive success, it’s worth looking at the local potential to unlock this market. As a need for reduced sugar intake collides with a drastic water shortage in Cape Town, I’m expecting someone to introduce infusions from simple things like lime, raspberry etc. to more exotic options celebrating local ingredients. Buchu and spekboom would be good examples of items that could work.

2. Plant-based proteins and nut milk

As transparency becomes more and more important for consumers, so does the need for non-animal protein sources. The spotlight being shone on horrendous commercial agriculture is driving people away from blind meat, dairy and egg consumption. That said, plant-based protein is no longer a world reserved for strict vegans or vegetarians. Consumers, as a whole, are starting to use their conscience to make buying decisions and the increase in quality of alternatives is on the up. People are choosing to eat less meat but concentrating on quality; with that comes a need for alternatives.

3. Chefs cooking simple food

We see it a lot overseas, with restaurants like Lyles, The Clove Club, etc. Chefs having the courage to put three ingredients on a plate and to let them speak for themselves. Locally, there’s a bit of uptake. Giles Edwards at La Tete is a great example of this. There is nowhere to hide with food this simple and I’m hoping more top chefs use their techniques to plate up food focused on seasonality and a transparent approach towards plating.

Deep fried lamb ribs are back @la_tete_restaurant 2 weeks in brine, braised and deep fried! #tickettoheaven #lamb #breestreet #restaurant

A post shared by La Tête Restaurant ��Cape Town (@la_tete_restaurant) on

4. Healthy elixirs

Powders are big at the moment and have been for some time. Matcha tea is EVERYWHERE but we’re also seeing turmeric being mixed into lattes, nori powder being used as a seasoning, cacao moving in for chocolate. One area that benefits from these is tonics and smoothies. Look out for kombucha in 2018 to really make a play but don’t rule out bone broth seasoned with various things mentioned above. It hasn’t reached its full potential in South Africa yet.

5. Sustainability

It’s hard to even write that word with a straight face. But I really, sincerely believe 2018 is the year when South Africans properly wake up to this movement that is a real, life decision overseas. Restaurants and retailers will stake a claim by reducing wastage, embracing nose-to-tail butchery, promoting seasonal veg and - most importantly - finding uses for by-products that would normally get thrown away.
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About the author

Andy Fenner is a former PR guy turned property developer turned freelance food writer turned brand consultant. His work has been featured in GQ, Men's Health, Sunday Times, House&Leisure, Food&Home, Cape Times etc. His latest start-up is Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants, a butchery committed to the ethical sourcing of meat. He is at the forefront of nose-to-tail eating and is changing the face of the way meat is consumed in South Africa. Previously voted one of Mail&Guardian's top 200 Young South Africans, he is arguably the only butcher in the world asking people to eat less meat. (But better quality.) Andy has successfully launched two books, the latest being Meat Manifesto.