After months of planning and preparation the wait was finally over this Tuesday 12th November as the 6th annual tfp Trends Event returned to the Royal Horticultural Halls, London, for a day of thought-provoking and inspiring discussion from across the industry.
Setting the scene for the day and kick starting the event, tfp co-founder Charles Banks ran through the mega trends which we've identified for 2020-21, exploring how these apply to the food and beverage industry. These mega trends include 'Don't Damage Me' - including the vegan halo, less is more and meaningful consumption, and ingestible beauty as a backlash to chemi-cosmetics. Another mega trend identified was True Carb Artisan, and how the consumer perception of carbs is changing with more master crafted breads, pastas, noodles and more.
Director of Brand and Innovation Strategy at 1HQ Brand Agency, Amelia is a regular at our Trends Event discussing the latest social and cultural drivers for the coming years. In a time of cultural turmoil for many, Amelia sought to unify much of which was to be spoken about through the simple shared joy and wonder those in attendance find in food and drink.
"We look upon a time where Science Fiction is becoming fact, allowing us to embrace further progress, which fuels our fundamental delight in realising impossible fantasy food. This ancient symbolism of the mystical and magical appeals to our subconscious self, where in a turbulent world, we can escape the mundane through the pleasure this provides."
Next up was BRAT founder and head chef Tomos Parry discussing the emerging trend of fire cooking and how it's influenced his Shoreditch location. Tomos's passion for fire cooking and how it creates a multi-sensory experience was infectious - the warmth of the restaurant, the smell of burning wood and smoke, the sounds of the fire cracking and the taste of the smoke in the food. Inspired predominantly by Basque cooking, with grill cooking and a fish heavy diet a regular sight in the small towns of the region, fire cooking is a truly distinctive and unique way of cooking.
"The next step for us is to become more sustainable in our cooking. We're doing a lot to improve but also looking at what else we can do, including what to do with excess heat. In order to maintain this beautiful form of cooking this is very important so that we can enjoy wood fire cooking for many years to come."
After Tomos ended his talk there was time to catch him on stage with a cake to celebrate his birthday - thanks for choosing to spend your birthday with us!
Andrew Wong and Murka Das
"Authenticity is fluid and shaped by cultural producers, like the people in this room, not just by the forces of history, politics or economics," Andrew Wong of hugely popular London restaurant A.Wong took to the stage with colleague Mukta Das to discuss authenticity, regionality and modern Chinese cuisine. The duo revisited what we see Chinese cuisine as today, and what ingredients we naturally perceive as being commonplace, which making us rethink the reasons why we make these assumptions.
"Rice is becoming less financially viable to grow, so the Chinese government is working hard to incentivise farmers to convert paddy fields into potato crops by selling it as a luxury good, something which raises your social status, but something which will ultimately translate in changing people's idea of authenticity."
Next up was Laura Willoughby, MBE, Co-Founder of Club Soda - the mindful drinking movement. Laura highlighted the plight of Club Soda, "for anyone who doesn't need face to face support but wants to explore what their relationship with drinking is." Raising a point which is getting more and more attention recently, Laura covered the lack of choice when it comes to alcohol-free or low-alcohol alternatives when you head to the pub or don't want wine with your dinner.
"8.6 million drinkers with be actively moderating their drinking this year. But the options are still sparse." How do we improve availability? Laura is helping to lead the way.
Dr. Irene Hoffman
Think about this - 9% of plant species account for 66% of all crop production globally by weight. Put this simply, it's clear that biodiversity is essential to food and agriculture, underpinning its future. Dr. Irene Hoffman, Secretary of the Food and Agriculture Organisation at the United Nations, gave some fascinating insight into the state of the world's biodiversity in food and agriculture.
"Wealthy urban consumers are trendsetters (less meat, diverse, superfoods, local), but how do we reach less educated, poor and rural consumers?" There's a lot of work ahead for society to achieve change.
In a day that's an immersive experience for all the senses, guests were treated to a trends-led, gluten free lunch from the team at Lush by Tom Kerridge. Bowls included salt Cornish cod brandade with chorizo spiced mayonnaise, pickled fennel and chives; smoked mushroom and Hereford beef rib dashi; banana custard with cacao nib and oat crumble; and much more...
Getting things back underway after lunch was Emma Worrollo of the Pineapple Lounge, discussing how to connect with Generation Alpha. "It's the end of an analogue childhood as Generation Alpha becomes the first truly digital natives."
Emma outlined five key areas to influence the youngest of consumers, including Magical Muses - kids are influencer-fluent and want more. Gone are the days of generic animal characters, they want to be inspired by mascots who embody wonder and pizzazz. Lots to learn on how we connect with these young consumers who have a large influence on what they are being bought by their elders.
"The days of spoon-feeding babies jars of basic mush are dwindling. Babies and toddlers are being handed the controls served up with the exotic, playful and tactile ways."
"Gut health is not just another food trend." Megan Rossi, also known in the industry as The Gut Health Doctor, gave an insightful talk on the topic, the truths, the assumptions and what we can all do to eat better.
"It's not so much we are what we eat, it's we are what we digest. Over 70% of our immune system lies along the digestive tract so if we want to get the most out of our food we have to have good gut health."
Megan spoke in depth about the make up and roles of gut microbiota, about the importance of probiotics, the as for now largely unproven yet important role of fermented foods and more.
Revisiting a topic introduced at a previous Trends Event a few years back, Mark Oleynik of Moley Robotics talked us through the world's first fully-automated and intelligent cooking robot. "It can mimic the actions of a master chef precisely, bringing a variety of cooking into the home kitchen. You are able to start cooking even if not at home, having the Moley Kitchen ensure dishes are ready at a precise time and even begin self-cleaning afterwards."
We're ever closer to fully robotic kitchens in the industry and Mark and Moley Robotics are helping to pave the way.
Taking a different viewpoint on an industry discussion was Darren Shirlaw, co-founder of BoB Group discussing the economic trends of 2021-31 and how the food and beverage industry will be affected by changes in the market.
"Between 2021 and 2031 we will see the world go through more innovations and developments than ever before." With the macro changes to the economy and huge steps forward in both innovation and technology our industry will be affected in many ways - it's up to us to make sure we're ready.
A first for a Trends Event, Josh Niland, chef and owner of Sydney fish restaurant St Peter, joined the event through video. Josh spoke with Charles and thefoodpeople team a few weeks back and demonstrated a full dissection of a sea bass to demonstrate his clever methods of using the entire fish, cooking head to tail.
"We're all out there eating cheeks, crispy tails and the like. Twenty five years ago these things didn't exist. Through this technique now we're at the heart of one of the most celebrated restaurants on the planet."
The last speaker to take to the stage at this year's Trends Event was Hannah Catley. With her experience creating astounding pastry creations which astound and delight in equal measure, Hannah is no stranger to the reality of what goes into producing these treat, as well as what goes in the bin. Eager to affirm that the smallest actions can contribute to producing the greatest changes, her efforts have gone from turning pastry off-cuts into brioche loaves to producing desserts formed entirely of previously wasted goods.
Awareness is the key aspect which underpins her work:
"It was soul destroying to see so much work going into creating our breads and then seeing large scraps going straight in the bin. Seasonality is a huge point when it comes to food waste, so we create our menus based upon what is available at the time in the UK, which allows us to reduce our wastage greatly."
A huge thanks to everyone who made the day a great success - thefoodpeople team, our brilliant speakers, caterers and chefs, and of course the 350 guests from across the industry and globe who joined us. Save the date in your diaries for next year already - 10th November 2020.