Our top food trends for Summer 2021

As the UK remains on track to lift lockdown restrictions from the 21st June, Summer dining is set to be a huge comeback for the hospitality industry after an incredibly turbulent year. 

In our latest blog, we’re exploring the most recent food trends that would make great additions to any Summer menu, leaving diners with full bellies, empty plates and big smiles. 

What are the top food trends for Summer 2021?

1. Sharing platters

After over a year apart, this Summer is all about reuniting with friends and family, with food playing a key role in coming together. In March, prior to the hospitality industry reopening, sales of items fit for a sharing platter were already on the rise with many opting to treat themselves over the Easter weekend with a spread of food to pick at.

As the vaccination levels continue to rise, and we become more comfortable meeting up in groups outside of our households, sharing platters, grazing boards and nibble trays are set to be hugely popular. 

While a classic charcuterie board with a selection of meats, cheeses, breads and olives always goes down well, there are endless possibilities when creating themed boards. Be sure to bring in a range of textures, smells and tastes that tap into ongoing trends, so everyone can get stuck in picnic-style and enjoy a range of flavour combinations. 

With flexitarian and plant-based diets continuing to grow in popularity, why not expand your vegan offering with a platter that incorporates classics such as hummus, falafels, breads and seasonal fruit and veg? With a rapidly growing number of meat substitutes and vegan cheeses available, the possibilities for flavour combinations are endless.

2. Mindful nutrition

The importance of good health, and mindful eating has become more apparent over the last year. Shopify recently highlighted in their report into the food and beverage trends of 2021 that “In a 2020 survey conducted by FMCG Gurus—a market research company specialising in food—80% of consumers worldwide indicated they were planning to eat and drink more healthily in 2021 as a direct result of COVID-19.”

With many becoming more health conscious, society is moving away from fad diets and more towards lifestyle changes with consistently better eating choices, without a need to eliminate food groups entirely. Trends also indicate that people are opting for products that support their immune system, and are beneficial to their mental wellbeing.

Offering balanced, nutritious meals that are full of goodness, are tasty and packed with flavour is key. Long gone are the days of a dry, simple salad being the meal of choice for those on a ‘diet’. Instead, diners will opt for a more health conscious dish that doesn’t compromise on flavour. 

3. Tacos

These tasty, tortilla wrapped treats have gotten a makeover – they’re no longer exclusively for mince, guacamole and cheese – instead, they’re housing a range of flavours with fillings suitable for meat eaters, vegans, vegetarians. In fact, The Caterer found that Mexican food was the most popular type of cuisine during Veganuary 2021, with spicy cauliflower tacos getting a special mention.

Get creative with your fillings – from mushrooms, roasted cauliflower and halloumi, to chicken, duck and fish – tacos are great vessels for a wide range of ingredients. Having seen a huge rise in popularity over the last couple of years, not only within the vegan community due to the wide range of meat-free fillings, but also on the back of the ever-evolving demand for street food that’s packed full of flavour. 

They’re simple to make and easy to eat, all while being filling and delicious – tacos will be a staple on menus over the coming months, and into the future.

4. Small plates from around the world

As with the sharing platters, people are looking to enjoy sitting out in the sun while tucking into a range of dishes in a picnic-style of dining with friends and family. With restrictions on global travel for over a year, customers are craving a taste of life outside of the UK, and food is a brilliant way to transport them to flavour hotspots from around the world.

Offer a range of small plates tapping into different cuisines – whether it be Spanish, Italian, Vietnamese, Thai, Mexican or anywhere else in the world – and give diners the opportunity to dive into a wealth of flavours while catching up with each other. Think tapas, but with a global influence on flavours. 

5. Locally sourced produce

During the pandemic we saw a surge in support for local businesses, with insights from YouGov finding, “64% of people want to support local businesses and buy local products.” 

Shoppers attitudes have shifted to more of a community based way of thinking, supporting small, local businesses through the challenges of the pandemic. For example, data from Kantar shows that 630,000 more households are buying from local butchers compared to the previous year, and spending nearly 50% more per shopping trip compared to other retailers when purchasing meat.  

Sourcing local ingredients – whether it be fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, honey, bread, alcohol or cheese, to name a few – not only supports other businesses within the community, but it also connects customers to the location through their dining experience. There’s something quite special about being able to tuck into the produce of the local farm, or enjoy a refreshing sip of a locally brewed beer. 

There are many benefits to buying from local suppliers, including:

  • Fresh, in season produce delivered to your doorstep not only keeps your menu interesting for customers, it allows chefs to get creative with dishes using seasonal ingredients. 
  • There are economic and environmental benefits to supporting local businesses when it comes to the transportation of ingredients, especially when purchasing out of season produce from overseas. Furthermore, it helps with the local economy.
  • Supporting local businesses is also a strong PR boost, as it shows customers you care about the people in the community, so much so that they’re more inclined to spend more on dishes with locally sourced ingredients. 

There you have it, this Summer’s top food trends – but now what?

Adapting your offering to meet the changing needs of consumers as their tastes evolve, and tapping into new trends as they emerge, is key to staying at the forefront of the industry. From sourcing ingredients, to creating dishes that delight your customers, innovation is at the heart of what we do – see what our chefs can create for you and your customers, so they leave with full bellies and empty plates. 

Explore our range of businesses in The Billington Group’s Food division and get in touch to start your food innovation journey today.