Eight months into 2019 and the restaurant industry is already reflecting many key aspects of this year’s defining cultural and social moments. From the push for sustainability to the healing properties of CBD, we take a look at the trends shaping the UK’s culinary climate today.
Terms like ‘field to fork’ and ‘flexitarian’ have been around for a while now, but the interest in relieving some of the pressure on the planet through changes in diet shows no signs of subsiding. As zero-waste markets pop-up all-over London and people attempt to cut down on their meat consumption, the restaurant industry has seen a boom in vegan eateries and sustainable practices in the kitchen. Excess is no longer in vogue as diners embrace the elegance of simplicity. There are some, such as Saiphin Moore (founder of Rosa’s Thai Cafe and Lao Cafe) who believe edible bugs may become a sustainable alternative protein – but not for quite some time.
Investment indicator: There are now more than 40 zero-waste shops around London, including high street behemoth Waitrose launching refill stations.
As the market evolves, different kinds of restaurants are starting to spring up in previously unutilised places. Despite a traditional focus on footfall, these ‘ultra-compact units’ open up new and interesting areas of regeneration giving zones 1 and 2 a new lease on life. The result? A plethora of choice for punters and endless opportunities for restaurateurs looking to try something new. It's a win, win.
Investment indicator: Recent openings such as Nandine (36 cover) and Flor, a very small new restaurant in Borough.
The Beyond Meat Burger by Honest Burger has taken the UK by storm with vegetarians and carnivores alike praising its flavour. Unlike other veggie options that simply swap out meat for a vegetable alternative, this burger mimics the taste and texture of beef using pea protein as well as several other plant-based ingredients. Meat substitutes are gaining popularity in restaurants, with slow-cooked, marinated jackfruit standing in for pulled pork and restaurant sales of meatless alternatives increasing by 268% in the last year alone.
Investment indicator: In May 2019, Beyond Meat raised just under $241 million at $25 per share, giving it an initial valuation of $1.5 billion. It is now worth $4.6 billion.
CBD (or cannabidiol) is everywhere. The miracle oil doesn’t contain THC, so it won’t get you high but that isn’t stopping people seeking it out in all its different forms. People are extolling its health benefits which range from pain relief to help sleeping so it was only a matter of time before the restaurant scene caught on and started capitalising on the fad. Coffee and cocktails with a CBD twist can now be found at Mortimer House Kitchen and Mr Fogg’s House of Botanicals. According to Whole Foods, “Hemp-derived products are going mainstream, if not by wide distribution, then by word of mouth.”
Investment indicator: The UK market for CBD will soon be worth £1 billion.
Wine and cocktails have been the traditional accompaniment to food in restaurants for what seems like forever, occupying an almost equal level of importance to the cuisine in some establishments. However, surveys in the last couple of years have seen young people eschewing the booze, with 30% of people aged 16 to 24 abstaining altogether. The market has reacted with low or no alcohol options for adults that deviate from the soft drink or water options usually on offer. Seedlip in particular has been making headlines for its sophisticated taste and stylish packaging, appearing on cocktail lists all over the capital. Similarly, Hawksmoor Spitalfields has introduced a menu of low ABV ‘bridging drinks’ designed for ‘lighter afternoon drinking’ demonstrating that this particular trend has officially hit the mainstream.
Investment indicator: In August 2019, Diageo bought a majority stake in Seedlip.
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