Waitrose, the upmarket British grocery chain, did pretty well with last year’s report, so maybe give this list a listen…

Mike Pomranz
November 01, 2017

Americans have Whole Foods; the British have Waitrose. Granted, it’s not a perfect correlation. For instance, Amazon only owns one of those grocery store chains. And in general, U.S. and U.K. sensibilities vary considerably. But both chains pride themselves on offering a bit more of an upmarket shopping experience than their competitors, and along those lines, both chains like to think of themselves as on top of the latest grocery trends.

To that end, the annual Waitrose Food & Drink Report seeks to not only recap the biggest trends of the year, but also predict what the next year may hold. Last year, the grocer suggested that Hawaiian poke, lighter eating, gourmet meal kits, vegetable-flavored yogurt, botanical cocktails, watermelon water, and extreme indulgences would be the hot items for 2017. Though certainly not the riskiest list, it also proved more accurate than the expect release date of flying cars, making the 2018 predictions at least worth a looksee.

So what are Waitrose’s five big trends “for 2018 and beyond”? The grocer used a mix of research including consumer surveys, sales stats and the opinions of in-house experts to create its list.

“Tapas-style Indian street food” is up first. “Forget heavy sauces and chicken tikka masala, this trend is about smoked, grilled or seared delicacies, such as scallops in pickled ginger,” the grocer states. “Food trucks selling puris stuffed with zingy vegetables and drizzled in chutney could become a common sight…. It’s Indian food like you’ve never seen it.” Though notably, the Brits have a greater penchant for Indian food than Americans do, so this one might not be as strong on both sides of the pond.

“Japanese ‘dude food’” is Waitrose’s next prediction. “Gutsy sharing dishes favoured in the country’s izakaya bars are set to become a big thing,” the brand writes. “Whether it’s yakitori skewered chicken or deep-fried tofu in broth, the trend will combine the hearty ‘dude food’ of the southern US states with the unctuous, rich and surprising flavours of after-hours Tokyo.”

“Fourth meal” has been a Taco Bell slogan for some time, but the grocer believes this concept is about to be more than just a fast food marketing gimmick. “There is growing evidence that we are starting to squeeze a small, fourth meal into our daily routine,” Waitrose writes. “This is not about gluttony, rather it is about adapting our eating schedules to our busy lives.”

How we shop is also apparently changing, with Waitrose lamenting the decline of the “big shop”—what the grocer calls a “seismic shift in food shopping habits.” As evidence, the brand points to the size of grocery carts: “Just a few years ago, an average Waitrose would open with around 200 big trolleys and 150 shallow ‘daily shopper’ trolleys lined up outside. These days the tables have turned, with 250 shallow ‘daily shoppers’ and just 70 big trolleys needed.”

And lastly, a continued inclination towards “plant proteins” rounds out the list. “With more of us choosing a flexitarian diet it’s no wonder there’s such a buzz around new plant-based proteins,” Waitrose says. “Whether with pulses, shoots, grains, seeds, soy or even algae, everyone from tiny start-up companies to big brands is looking for clever new ways to add a protein punch.”

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