Forecasting food trends is far from an exact science. Peruvian cuisine still hasn’t taken off despite claims it was The Next Big Thing five years ago and edible insects are yet to plague burgers. Regardless of the inaccuracies, it’s still a fun game, and sometimes the predictions are spot on. Welcome, then, to 2019 – the year of fake meat, fried chicken and skipping breakfast.
Whether it’s for health, environmental and ethical concerns, Australia’s appetite for vegan food is increasing. The rise in the popularity of plant-based eating will see more mock-meat products permeate mainstream stores and restaurants in 2019.
Woolworths launched its plant-based Funky Fields mince in June and Coles recently began stocking the Bill Gates-backed Beyond Meat burger which took seven years to develop so it looks and tastes like real meat – the pea-based patty even “bleeds” beetroot juice. The Beyond Meat burger is only available in NSW Coles stores, however a spokesperson said if there is sufficient customer demand the product will be rolled out nationally.
That customer demand is likely. Vegan restaurant chain Lord of the Fries trialled the Beyond Meat burger for three months in 2018 and an “incredible response” from customers lead to the burger becoming a permanent menu item. Lord of the Fries, which has more than 20 stores in Australia and New Zealand and plans to expand, will also add the plant-based Beyond Sausage to its hot dog carte 2019.
A spokesperson for McDonald's Australia said the fast food company has a new vegetarian product “in the works” for 2019. Hungry Jack’s launched a vegan cheeseburger in October featuring a corn, capsicum and carrot-based patty and “cheese” made from coconut oil. Hungry Jacks will continue to “monitor the growth in plant-based options” said chief marketing officer Scott Baird.
As meat alternatives become closer in taste, texture and appearance to traditional meat there will be more calls from the livestock industry to regulate their naming and placement in supermarkets. Should they live in the chilled health food section or commingle with traditional meat? The potential for non-vegan consumers to choose plant-based “meat” over the real thing has industry bodies concerned.
The Rising Sun shines
Sushi has been around since the 1970s, and terrific ramen can be found from Hobart to Cairns, but 2019 will be the year Japanese cuisine becomes firmly embedded in Australian kitchens.
Ingredients such as miso, ponzu, yuzu and sansho pepper have long been popular with non-Japanese chefs for their deep and unique flavours and now home cooks are discovering them too. Poaching chicken in miso, say, will become as common as roasting lamb in the oven.
Australia’s love for both Japanese dishes and chicken schnitzel saw the katsu sandwich appear with greater frequency at hip cafes in last 12 months and the fried chook sanger (sometimes pork) is set to explode in 2019. Whether venues jumping on the katsu wagon will serve actual Japanese katsu coated with crunchy panko breadcrumbs or just European schnitzel by another name remains to be seen.
Sake will also find its way on to more wine lists at non-Japanese restaurants as the rice wine become more accessible. Key to this movement is Australian importer Black Market Sake which provides custom tasting notes on the back of each bottle. Sommeliers don’t need to be fluent in Japanese to know what they’re pouring.
The new superfoods
There are no set criteria for what constitutes a superfood – it’s a marketing term any business can use. Exotic fruits are the usual suspects and some “wellness” experts are predicting the Peruvian cape gooseberry to be the new acai. The bittersweet fruit is rich in fibre and Nestle acquired a Latin American company popular for its cape gooseberry snacks in September.
More hemp products are expected to hit the market as the domestic hemp industry matures. (It became legal for hemp food products to be sold in Australia in late 2017.) Hemp is a species of cannabis, but unlike marijuana it contains negligible levels of the mind-altering chemical compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It’s rich in essential fatty acids and hemp seeds are available to sprinkle on your breakfast cereal, while hemp protein powder can be mixed into smoothies as a plant-based protein source.
Fast times and fad diets
Diets emphasising fat over carbohydrates such as the ketogenic (or “keto”) diet dominated 2018 and this trend will continue. More people will also look to intermittent fasting as a weight loss method, promoted by programs such as the Dubrow diet, the most Googled diet after keto in the US and now gaining traction in Australia. The Dubrow diet was designed by celebrity couple Terry and Heather Dubrow who achieved fame after appearing on The Real Housewives of Orange County.
“If Real Housewives alumni are spruiking intermittent fasting that means it’s definitely here to stay,” said accredited practising dietitian Felicity Curtain. The Dubrow diet suggests fasting for up to 16 hours a day which promotes the body to burn stored energy.
“If you’re looking purely at weight loss, intermittent fasting can be successful,” said Ms Curtain.
“However, studies show that intermittent fasting is generally no more effective than other weight loss diets. It can also be difficult to stick to if you have an active lifestyle and need to push all your eating into an eight-hour period.”
The beginning of the end of cheap coffee
“People should expect to pay more for coffee,” said Ed Cutcliffe, founder of Sydney-based specialty coffee roasters The Little Marionette. “I remember an old boss being incredulous when the price of her takeaway coffee went up 20¢ to $3. That was in 1999 and the price hasn’t changed too much since.”
A cup of coffee for less than $4 today is “ludicrous” said Mr Cutcliffe. “If you take into account standard CPI inflation, plus the increased cost of rent, electricity, staffing and milk, coffee should really cost $10 a cup.”
While it’s unlikely there will be a $10 latte within the next five years (consumer spending habits are hard to change and large companies can still afford to offer cheap coffee as loss-leader) the next 12 months will almost certainly see a price rise in the black stuff and the end of reusable cup discounts at independent cafes.
A 50¢ discount for reusable cups is a “noble idea” said Mr Cutcliffe, but greater than the cost of a disposable cup which is around 15¢. “Cafes will implode if they don’t stop offering the discount,” he said. To this end, there will be a greater prevalence of biodegradable cups made from sugarcane pulp which have rougher texture than standard takeaway cups but less impact on the environment.