Top 10 Cuisines During Lockdown 6 to 10

The conversation around trending cuisines has shifted and changed during the current health crisis. At the beginning of lockdown in particular, as restaurants shuttered and panic ensued, many people shopped for food with necessity and cost (rather than cravings!) in mind. And with their favourite restaurant options off the table, people couldn't rely on their favourite noodles, curries, kebabs etc as takeaway options - they had to cook all three meals, every day.

At first, 24/7 home cooking (and a glut of panic purchases!) meant lots of dried pasta, baked beans and ready meals all round - but as time went on, home cooks got creative in an effort to recreate their favourite global dishes. And then, joy of joys, restaurants and takeaway options started to reappear...

So, it seems that global cuisines are still a firm favourite on dinner tables, particularly where trusty old favourites - e.g. Italian, Indian, Chinese - are concerned. And though the 'pause' button may have been hit on the growth of some of the emerging cuisines, enterprising chefs have been working hard to keep them in conversation - and their efforts seem to be paying off.

Recent data from the Future Food panel - a collaboration between thefoodpeople and Good Sense Research - displays that consumer appetites for global flavours and formats endures. The research shows that whilst familiar cuisines (e.g. British) are still the most tried, interest is high in trying emerging cuisines; broadly speaking, any dip in the numbers during March/April has levelled out to pre-lockdown levels. (If you'd like to know more about this exciting collaboration and read the data in more detail, subscribe online using this link.)

As we come out of lockdown, it is undoubtedly going to take some time for restaurants to recover - so home cooking and deliveries will continue to be a much bigger part of our lives. We take a look here at 6 - 10 of the Top 10 cuisines that consumers have turned to on both these fronts during lockdown.

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6. Middle Eastern

Middle Eastern cuisine in all its flavourful, diverse, vibrant and fresh glory, has become part of the foodie mainstream conversation in the UK. Just consider hummus, arguably the best known (and loved!) Middle Eastern staple; Brits eat more than 12,000 tonnes of the stuff a year (that's more than Marmite, in case you were wondering!).

Some of our observations during lockdown:

With so much time spent outdoors, BBQ and grill dishes proved popular; think chicken skewers, shish and lamb kofte. So too did family formats and mezze sharing dishes. With interest in both health and plant-based diets at an all-time high, Middle Eastern food provided a perfect solution for simple, healthy, flavourful veg dishes - falafel, roasted aubergine, hummus, baba ganoush, summer salads and so on. There's also no forgetting the nation's love of kebabs. Inventive home cooks were quick to try and recreate the much-loved kebab shop takeaway, creating 'fake-away' versions at home from scratch.

A few growth potentials and thought starters:

  • Explore a breadth of chilli spices for example Urfa, Pul Biber, Aleppo pepper
  • Spices and rubs with blends like Ras El Hanout, baharat, Za'atar as seasonings, marinades and bbq rubs
  • Discover breakfast beyond shakshuka e.g. a breakfast mezze
  • Use sweet applications for tahini such as brownies, trifle, butter cream, cookies, cakes

7. Southeast Asian

Southeast Asian cuisine incorporates the foods of countries including Indonesia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines. Thai and Vietnamese dishes like pho, summer rolls, green curry and pad thai are already a mainstay in UK supermarkets - but now we see other Southeast Asian cuisines entering mainstream lexicon.

What have we observed during lockdown?

Thai and Vietnamese were popular takeaway options, but home cooks also had a go themselves - often with the help of kits and ready-made sauces. Cooks/ restaurants took to Instagram for cook-a-longs to give a helping hand; popular Rosa's Thai Cafe gave away the recipe for their popular Spicy Drunken Spaghetti. Pre pandemic, there was also a lot of buzz around Malaysian and Singaporean cuisine - in particular Kopi tiam (ko-pish-ham) favourites like kaya toast - and the cooks behind these kept the momentum going. Likewise, Filipino chefs worked hard to promote the already growing popularity of their cuisine.

A few growth potentials and thought starters:

  • 'Kopitiam' (coffee house) dining; snacking potential in kaya toast, etc
  • Beverages; milo, pulled coffee, milk tea, iced tea, flavoured iced tea
  • Noodles and fried rice for all day eating, including breakfast
  • Retail pastes, sauces and marinades beyond green and red curry; think kaya, sambal
  • Explore sweet profile for desserts and snacks; lychee, pandan, tapioca, coconut milk, palm sugar

8. Mexican

Mexican cuisine is hugely influential in both the UK and US, particularly 'grab & go' formats in the retail and fast casual sphere, e.g. tacos, burritos, quesadillas. These historically had a Tex-Mex lean, often associated with cheese-laden interpretations. However, recent years have seen consumer appetite for 'authentic' regional Mexican cuisine grow both in ingredients and dishes.

Some of our observations during lockdown:

We have needed a bit of vibrancy, fun and colour in recent months, and Mexican cuisine provides these; indeed, Taco Tuesdays and Cinco de Mayo provided perfect party opportunities. Consumers went wild for tacos and margaritas in particular, and restaurants were quick to supply DIY kits for these. Also popular were churros, elote (grilled corn) and burritos. Tray bake and slow cooker recipes are also all the rage, a perfect fodder for Mexican stews, braises and chillies (e.g. beef birria, chicken tinga and carnitas).

A few growth potentials and thought starters:

  • Spices and rubs made with ingredients like hoja santa, chipotle and epazote for slow cook, grill and barbecue
  • Introduce taco and margarita kits for a Mexican-themed night in
  • Bring in Mexican drinks, beyond just tequila: micheladas, raicilla, pulque, tepache
  • Semi prepared Mexican / kits – Mexican bbq, taco party
  • Increase the vegan Mexican offering

9. Japanese

It's official, the world is obsessed with all things Japanese. Japan is said to be the fastest growing major holiday destination of the last decade, and the 11th most visited country on the planet. And with Tokyo all set to host the summer Olympics next year, Japan's influence - including its food culture - is only set to grow more.

What have we observed during lockdown?

We have been all about the carb comforts in recent months, so it's no surprise that katsu curry and ramen have been leading the way. Comfort food is likely to remain a food crutch for most, so expect the popularity of these to continue - as well as 'yoshoku' dishes (Japanese-style western food like wafu pasta). And of course, the world can't seem to get enough of sushi - but now there's appetites for modern riffs and twists like sushi bowls and bakes... yup, bakes!

A few growth potentials and thought starters:

  • Incorporate Japanese ingredients for a riff on a favourite, beyond the usual suspects (miso, yuzu, matcha, etc) – why not try kogi, togarashi, Hokkaido milk, hōjicha, sakura, adzuki beans, katsuobushi, umeboshi
  • Mix flavours/formats e.g. sushi pizza, ramen spaghetti, loaded hot dogs
  • DIY sushi and sake kits for a Japanese-themed 'night in'

10. Mediterranean

For many in the UK, it's not summertime without a holiday to our favourite Mediterranean destinations like France, Greece, Cyprus or Spain. The cuisines of these countries are as varied and exciting as they are, with something for every season and taste. From wintry cassoulets and gratins, to summer souvlaki grills and sangrias for happy hour - there's something for everyone, any time of the year.

Some of our observations during lockdown:

Unsurprisingly, carb laden comfort fare was a quick go-to during lockdown... think French classics like crepes, croissants, Tarte Tatin, dauphinoise potatoes, gratin and madeleines. As the weather warmed up (and our waistlines expanded!), these gave way to the grilled meats, roasted veg and vibrant salads of Greece and Turkey - souvlaki, grilled prawns, watermelon & feta salads etc. And of course, let's not forget our Spanish favourites, tapas, paella, sangria and cava which made regular appearances on weekend menus in particular.

A few growth potentials and thought starters:

  • Sangria and tapas DTC for a Spanish summer party at home
  • Paella kits for an alternative Sunday lunch
  • Plant-based kebabs and grills
  • Revisit and update classic French desserts with contemporary twists; e.g. mille-feuille, gateau or Crème brûlée


The global pandemic has temporarily grounded everyone, bringing into sharp focus the value of food and drink, and, indeed, the fragility of our supply chains, so curbing the 'I want what I want, and I want it now' which dominated so many trends before. For the first time in generations, consumers have had to make do with what's available/local - and that means getting creative!

This has only acted to accelerate the era of Conscience Cuisine, something TFP actually hailed at the start of 2019. That is to say, we were already entering an era that would be dictated by environmental concerns and mindful eating. More than ever, we truly understand that 'you are what you eat' - the pandemic didn't create this shift, but it did accelerate it.

This era of conscious consumption will impact the global cuisines framework too. Age old techniques like fire cooking plus bread making are already being revived and coming to the fore. Both environmental & personal health are top of the agenda too, and thus cuisines that lend themselves well to healthy, fresh and plant-based eating are likely to thrive. It seems inevitable that global travel will remain off the cards for many for some time yet; that means that that we will turn to exotic ingredients, flavours and dishes for global food exploration on our plates.

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Stay safe and keep well.