As rice and pasta are hotly pursuing white potatoes as the nation’s favourite carbs, and fusion and Asian foods are predicted to overtake British fare in popularity this year, Jane Wolfe takes a journey through regional cuisines from around the world
According to a report by HelloFresh, although traditional British recipes saw a resurgence post-pandemic, cuisines from around the globe are set to soar this year. The meal kit provider predicts that Italian food will be its customers’ most popular choice for the second year running in 2022 and demand will rise for Asian, Fusion and Mexican dishes.
Summer 2021 was ‘fuelled’ by pizza, pasta and cheese, with HelloFresh shipping 75.5% Italian dishes between June and August. “While the classic, hearty goodness of Italian will likely remain in the nation’s top five cuisines, we’re expecting to see a resurgence in demand for fusion and Asian foods the most,” it says.
The company also outlines the most popular cuisines in various regions of the UK: “From the capital of fusion food in Slough, to French indulgence in Redcar and Cleveland …. The nation’s Italian obsession is rooted in Luton, where 23% of respondents admitted their passion for Parmesan-topped goodness, and Brighton residents turned the spice level up, choosing Mexican as their top dish.
Where once cuisines might have been grouped as more general Middle Eastern, Caribbean, Indian or Asian, consumers are now open to more distinct, unusual flavours
“The adventure doesn’t stop there though – from the Zanzibarian taste sensations taking over Torbay, to the residents of Northeast Lincoln making Argentinian dishes their top cuisine, we really are a diverse nation when it comes to our food preferences.”
As for carbs, although white potatoes topped the charts for the past two years, HelloFresh envisages the rising interest in fusion and Asian foods will produce a shift: “Rice is already our second favourite carbohydrate, and noodles will only grow in popularity next year … Packing carbs into meals doesn’t mean playing it safe, and we predict that some alternative, healthy swaps may become more common in 2022. Bulgur wheat, lentils and couscous secured a spot in the top ten round-up for 2021, but we expect these hearty, slow-release energy foods to gradually feature in our day-to-day dishes more often in 2022.”
HelloFresh recently agreed a deal with Irie Eats which will see it include 30,000 of the brand’s Jamaican-inspired meal kits – which include Caribbean Curry and Spicy Jerk Wraps – in customers’ meal boxes.
Stockport-based EHL Ingredients spans Mediterranean, Asian, African, Middle Eastern, Caribbean, South American and Creole cuisines with its 200-strong organic range of herbs and spices and 70-plus custom blends, and believes consumers are expanding their taste horizons.
“World foods are a really lucrative market right now as consumers are happy to be experimental in trying new foods and seeking out exotic cuisines they perhaps haven’t tried before, especially as holidays have been restricted due to the pandemic,” explains Tasneem Alonzo, joint MD of Lähde, the company’s foodservice brand. “Foods from far away that offered new flavour combinations appealed to those looking for a sense of escapism. We see this as a trend that will continue into 2022 with spice blends, marinades and seasonings. From Brazil, for example, tempero baiano seasoning from the Brazilian state of Bhia is used to add flavour to seafood, vegetables, soups and stews. Ethiopian mitmita is a spicy blend used on beef and in bean dishes, while South African chakalaka seasoning is an ideal way to add flavour to create a spicy tomato bean relish often used as a side dish. Also set to be in demand is Tunisian and Georgian khmeli suneli – a herb blend that is added to fish, lamb and vegetable stews.
Alonzo says people are now looking for international foods from specific regions, not just countries: “Where once cuisines might have been grouped as more general Middle Eastern, Caribbean, Indian or Asian, consumers are now open to more distinct, unusual flavours with exotic-sounding names. Sriracha, ras el hanout and harissa are examples of spice blends that have gone from being relatively unknown in the UK to seasoning staples, and we’re expecting a similar pattern of availability and demand for seasonings such as zhug (Yemen), mimita and berbere (Ethiopia), bezar (Arab Emirates) and chermoula (Morocco). Other flavour trends include Asian ingredients such as yuzu, kimchi, togarashi (Japanese spice blend) and gochujang (Korean spice paste). We’re also expecting to see Afghan foods start to appear in retail using ingredients such as asofetida, dried fruits and spices for aromatic and flavourful dishes such as ashak, bolani, mantu and kabuli pulao.”
Other current popular herb and spice blends, according to Alonzo, include dukkah, ghormeh sabzi, taco spice mixes, BBQ blends and curry powders. “Consumers are also enjoying Levantine foods – they’re fresh, full of flavour, colourful and packed full of healthy ingredients such as chickpeas, seeds, nuts, beans, pulses – and spice blends such as baharat, za’atar and sumac. Bata harra is a Lebanese seasoning used to create a spicy potato dish. It is very versatile and can be used to flavour other vegetable and meat dishes as well.”
Alonzo foresees that flavours from across the pond will be a big hit this summer. “American regional BBQ marinades and seasonings are growing in popularity – distinctive flavours from the Deep South, Midwest and Southeastern states are proving popular for grill and BBQ-style dishes and for sharing foods. There is a definite interest in regional specialities from different parts of the USA, especially Louisiana, Texas, California and Hawaii. Alongside the traditional American foods such as burgers, ribs, wings, pizzas and Southern fried dishes, we’re witnessing an increase in healthier eating trends and fresh flavours from herbs and spices.”
She adds that the booming popularity of vegan and plant-based dishes is driving the sector too. “Herb and spice blends for vegan sausages, burgers, kebabs, falafels, pâtés and pastes, soups, snacks and crackers, pizzas and pasta dishes are flying as manufacturers strive to create innovative, flavourful foods for those cutting down on meat or adopting a full plant-based diet.
There is a definite interest
in regional specialities from different parts of the USA, especially Louisiana, Texas, California and Hawaii
Free-from casual dining is an area she believes will surge in popularity this summer. “Vegan ‘junk food’ in particular … is becoming increasingly mainstream and widely available on menus. This reveals a different side to veganism and vegetarianism, and our herbs, spices and blends can help create new American-themed ‘vegan junk food’ style products and open up new opportunities for retailers.”
So, what regions will EHL Ingredients and Lähde explore next? “We’re constantly working on new blends. The areas we’re looking at next are Africa, with blends such as Ethiopian mekelesha and Moroccan la kama. West Africa is becoming more familiar with those looking for a different world cuisine – efo and jollof seasonings are used in many rice and chicken dishes.”
This rising interest in global flavours bodes well for the international brands exhibiting at Natural & Organic Products Europe which returned to London’s ExCeL in April. Here is a little taste of what was on offer:
Lyofood’s (Poland) new clean label organic meals come in fully compostable cups and recyclable sleeves developed specifically by the brand to provide ‘a truly ecological’ packaging solution. With varieties including Chana Masala, Lentil Dhal, Moroccan Stew and Chili Sin Carne, the Bistro Menu vegan meals are small-batch cooked then freeze-dried to eliminate the need for preservatives while still offering a long shelf life.
The Chilean contingent offered everything from organic veg purées and juices to seaweed snacks and freeze-dried fruits. Williwaw Foods exhibited its upcycled Salmon Cracklet, a crispy snack produced from sustainably-sourced salmon from the cool waters of Patagonia. Oven-baked, the snacks come in Sea Salt, Smokey, Patagonian Spice, Pesto and Salsa varieties.
From Thailand, Good Eats’ instant, MSG-free Truffle Soup and Lobster Bisque joined
Kruengton’s Thai Premium Cooking Sets in Tom Yum Soup and Thai Yellow Curry varieties and Fruit King’s Coconut Chips – which include Durian flavour for the extra adventurous – and Tofu Sticks in Tom Yum and Seaweed.
The United States came up trumps in time for summer BBQs – Minneapolis-based Acme Organics’ Triple Crown BBQ Sauces are USDA-certified organic, non-GMO, gluten-free and vegan, and come in Classic, fermented Black Garlic and Hickory Bourbon; Bean Vivo Organics healthy meals in pouches include Baja Black Beans, Refried Pinto Beans and Coconut Curry Chickpeas; and for a quick bite, Outstanding’s line of vegan snacks crafted by Dave Andersen (the executive chef behind the Beyond Burger), offers Pig Out Crunchies (alternative to pork scratchings), Cheese Balls and Pizza Partay Puffs.
Think of Greece and think of olive oil, feta and honey: Pellas Nature’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil comes Infused with basil, lemon or thyme; a twist on traditional feta, Kourellas produces Feta Cheese Infused with Truffle as well as Feta Bites; and Savidakis Family’s innovative offer includes Cretan Honey & Evoo Pearls (honey with extra virgin olive oil balls).
Pasta innovations included Helios Pasta Industry’s biodegradable Artesian Pasta Drinking Straws in Natural, Orange and Red, and its Organic Kiddo Pasta in Little Dinosaurs, Little Animals and Letters & Numbers; Italy’s Pasta Natura’s gluten-free children’s range, La Fattoria delle Meraviglie, incorporates animal shapes and is available in Lentils & Peas or Wholegrain Multicereals; and from Turkey, Bemtat Organic’s Organic Kids Pasta is offered in Spinach-Black Carrot-Pumpkin and Broccoli-Tomato-Beetroot variants.
Fattoria Della Mandorla’s collection of Italian aged almond-based products includes Parmesan alternative Gran Murgiano with an ‘unmistakable salty flavour’, Mandorino (similar to Pecorino), and Ricotta alternative, Mandorella; while Tiberino’s 100% natural one-pot, plant-based meals such as Orecchiette with Broccoli & Boscaiola Bowl, Trofiette al Pesto di Basilico alla Genovese and Risotto Carnaroli con Carciofi alla Romana come with suggested wine pairings on back of pack.
Full of flavour
Plant-based meal kit brand The Flavourists has been founded to satisfy consumers thirsty for diverse and culturally interesting flavours with two initial ranges: Sizzle Kits (Creamy Makhani Style Curry and Yellow Thai Style Curry) and Sizzle & Stir (Sticky Teriyaki and Herby Green Pesto). The meals for two are ready in under 15 minutes and aim ‘to bring colour, vibrancy and positivity to a category with a traditionally negative lexicon’.
“Seeing that the top two emerging plant-based food trends were meal kits and new flavours, combined with our previous insight which identified that many meat-reducers are real foodies, led us to develop our range of semi-scratch kits which offer flavour exploration through creative cooking and ease,” explains co-creator Kyrsten Halley. “Our plan was always to create a plant-based brand, but when we started to dive into the figures and consumer conversations within this sector, it was so clear that it wasn’t just vegans asking for great tasting plant-based dishes, it was everyone.
“Consumers are looking for inspiration and experimentation. The growing need for new, aromatic flavours is what has inspired many of our dishes … Stir-frying, crunchy textures and sun-dried ingredients are also in demand, so we’ve brought these to life in our dishes and garnishes where possible too.
“Everyone is looking for quicker and more efficient ways to cook for themselves and their families, and until now, pre-prepared, packaged, and ready-meals have been the answer. Our meal kits offer so much more than that: yes, they’re ‘quick and easy’, but they lead with intense flavours and creativity.”
BeanVIVO – Three Bean Chili
Who doesn’t love a hearty bowl of chili? This Three Bean Vegan Chili is crafted with a blend of 3 different organic beans (black beans, red beans and white navy beans) and paired with only 5 more ingredients: plant-based chorizo, organic tomatoes, organic avocado oil, organic garlic, and sea salt. The result is truly irresistible! A delicious organic vegan chili in a convenient flexible pouch.
BeanVIVO combines one of nature’s most nutritious ingredients – beans! – with other specialty ingredients, creating delicious ready-to-eat plant-based meals in shelf-stable pouches. All organic, vegan and gluten free. BeanVIVO combines one of nature’s most nutritious ingredients – beans! – with other specialty ingredients, creating delicious ready-to-eat plant-based meals in shelf-stable pouches. All organic, vegan and gluten free.
New Clearspring Organic Tahini Range
Leading organic fine foods brand Clearspring has added a trio of delicious new organic Tahini products to its offering; White, Whole and Black Sesame Tahini. All three are single-ingredient – made using the finest, carefully selected 100% organic sesame seeds, nothing else! They are all palm oil free, free from added sugar and salt and come in sustainable, recyclable, and reusable glass jars. All three Clearspring Organic Tahini products are a great source of protein, high in fiber and vegan friendly. They are perfect for a wide variety of uses from hummus, salad dressings, dips, sauces and spreads to desserts and for baking.
Kiddo Organic Pasta by HELIOS
Meet Kiddo Organic Pasta by HELIOS, winner of the “Best New Food Product” award during “Natural & Organic Awards Europe 2022”!
Kiddo Organic Pasta by HELIOS is especially popular among children and their parents for the flavour, quality and shapes (Letters & Numbers | Little Animals | Little Dinosaurs) that combine high nutritional value with educational entertainment. The product is Loi Approved, USDA Organic, Kosher and Halal certified, non-GMO verified and recognized for its purity with the “Clean Label Project™ Purity Award”. Crafted for kids of all ages, yet fun and delicious for the whole family!
Spice it up!
It’s time to stock up on the best selling Organic ginger pantry range from the ginger people.
Super versatile for cooking, marinating or just adding to a health-giving smoothy. The range includes pure organic ginger juice, minced ginger, ginger spread, ginger syrup and the best tasting sushi ginger. Remember to display prominently during the BBQ season to benefit from the extra season sales.