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According to recent research from Mintel, consumers are becoming more adventurous with the cuisines that they cook at home. This is no surprise when you consider the exciting newcomers to the UK restaurant scene that have introduced food lovers to emerging cuisines, and broadened their horizons – and their palates.

A photo posted by Cabana (@cabanabrasil) on

So with new food trends constantly coming and going, which new flavours should we be watching out for on restaurant menus, and why?

The hunger for new food horizons

While the Mintel report predominantly relates to cook at home food, it does highlight the influence of emerging restaurant food trends and their driving forces on the wider consumer market. There is a growing interest in different ethnic foods here in the UK, with the real possibility that some fares could become as established as Chinese and Indian, which Mintel rightly describes as “firmly embedded in UK cuisine”

A photo posted by Dishoom (@dishoom) on

Our recent blog post on the sushi trend of 2016 highlights the opportunity for new cuisines to grow and develop in the UK market. And, according to research it’s the thorough acceptance of what were once viewed as ‘highly adventurous’ foods that could be paving the way for new consumer experimentation - Mintel found that Chinese and Indian food is eaten by 78% and 73% of people in the UK, which perhaps suggests they are now less likely to be viewed as an unusual dining choice. So which cuisines could be taking their place?

How travel influences the tastebuds

Backpackers and jetsetters alike are fuelling interest in international cuisines, seeking out the foods they’ve sampled on their travels when they arrive home. A third of those surveyed by Mintel stated that visiting a country would encourage them to try its cuisine at home. Looking at travel trends in relation to food trends both in store and in restaurants, Brazil and Morocco are highlighted as two countries that have seen increased growth in British visitors in recent years. As we’ve already discussed on our blog, the Brazilian food trend has exploded in popularity in the UK recently - and thanks to the 2016 Olympics, Brazilian-themed ventures like the barbecue chain Cabana may find tourists and sport spectators alike seeking out a taste of Brazil this year.

A photo posted by Cabana (@cabanabrasil) on

Looking further at the connection between emerging cuisines and travel, Thailand and Other Asia saw the number of annual average British tourist visits grow by around 4% in the period 2009-2013. So where can the impact of these well-travelled palates be seen on our restaurant scene?

Shaking up the flavours of high street restaurants

According to Douglas Faughnan, Senior UK Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel, “The presence of emerging cuisine restaurants on the high street is growing while there is greater focus from retailers like M&S on expanding their ethnic offering. These trends are helping to bring the less established cuisines into the spotlight and out of the shadow of Chinese and Indian, which are firmly embedded in UK cuisine.” Cabana is just one of the restaurant chains that has benefitted from enthusiasm for experimentation with new cuisines. There were just six venues back in 2014 and now the brand boasts ten restaurants with one on the way in Southampton.

A photo posted by Turtle Bay (@turtlebayuk) on

It joins the likes of the more established Latin American-inspired restaurant Las Iguanas, which has over 40 restaurants in the UK, and relative newcomer Turtle Bay, a Caribbean restaurant and bar which was set up by one of the co-founders of Las Iguanas in 2010 and now has over 30 restaurants. Also rising fast is Thaikhun, a Thai street food concept with eight venues across England and Scotland.

Aside from offering more exotic cuisines at affordable price points, these brands all offer dining that leans more towards the informal.  With larger tables to accommodate groups as well as couples, cocktail menus and bright lights and Instagram-friendly décor, they’re well set up to cater to the 72% of British and American Millennials who are more likely to share pictures of food that is different or unique.

Do you agree that UK consumers are embracing more exotic cuisines in restaurants? Which emerging cuisines have you noticed are on the rise, and which do you think are here to stay? We’d love to hear your thoughts – leave us a comment below.


Lockhart Catering on 24 August 2016 2:56 AM

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