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Food Trends 2024

Korean food is one to watch in 2024

Nick Mosley takes a peek into his culinary crystal ball to reveal the key food trends to look out for in 2024.

Plant-based proteins

Fake meats – or technically in industry parlance ‘meat replacers’ and ‘plant-based meats’ – are now very much in the mainstream with metres of supermarket chillers and freezers filled with the stuff. We’ve certainly come a very long way from those first Linda McCartney ‘chicken’ nuggets in the 90s.

Interestingly, the category appears to have plateaued and is even showing decline as consumer patterns continue to change. Meat replacers are getting a bit of a bad rap: they aren’t all the healthiest options in terms of ultra-processed fat, salt and sugar whilst also expensive compared to fresh vegetables.

That’s not to say that vegetarianism and veganism aren’t on an up-ward trajectory. According to market research company Finder, in 2023 3.4 million Brits identify as vegetarian with an additional 1.4 million vegans with many non-vegetarians actively cutting down on meat consumption.

Cultivated meat

Which leads me nicely on to ‘cultivated meats’ that – depending on your perspective – are a miracle of modern food science or Frankenstein-esque abominations. In a nutshell, these lab-grown meats are the real deal and cultivated from the muscle and fat cells of animals so they taste the same as the original but no animals had to die.

Although cultured meat is slowly becoming available in Singapore and the USA, we’re likely still a little while off in the UK. Understandably there will be very tight regulations but equally the farming industry and meat processing lobby aren’t exactly over-the-moon with this epochal shift. However, the biggest stumbling block is likely to be consumer acceptance.

Artificial Intelligence takes over the kitchen

A year ago, the closest thing most of us had got to AI was the Terminator movies. Now, you won’t get through a day without multiple mentions of Chat GPT in the newspapers, TV and general conversations.

The world of food and drink is no different. You can tell the tech what leftovers you have in the fridge and it will rustle up a remarkably creative step-by-step recipe… coffee-rubbed cod anyone? Want a bespoke recipe in the style of a named chef, just ask away. I was pretty impressed with the result of this when asking Chat GPT to make suggestions based on Sussex chefs who’s styles I’m very familiar with.

As with many other industries, behind-the-scenes AI will create huge efficiencies for restaurateurs and chefs: stock-control and just-in-time ordering, taking guest bookings and responding to enquiries, financial and staff management… even automated replies to those time-consuming Tripadvisor and Google reviews that are the bane of a restaurateur’s life.

Korean food takes centre-stage

Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indonesian and Vietnamese food are familiar on our high streets but recent years have seen another of the Far East’s signature – but under-represented – cuisines enter the mainstream from Korea.

Korean food is unique for its bold and harmonious flavours, combining the five tastes – salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami. It features a wide range of fermented and pickled ingredients, including kimchi, as well as a focus on communal dining with a variety of side dishes and Korean barbecue. The use of gochugaru – red pepper flakes – and gochujang  – fermented red chili paste – adds distinctive spiciness.

One of my all-time favourite Korean dishes is ‘tteok-bokki’ – stir-fried rice sticks smothered in a spicy sauce and topped with gooey cheese. We make this at home and I say the more chilli the better! At my last count I found around a dozen Korean restaurants in central Brighton so there’s no excuse to not try this delicious and unique cuisine.

The end of green-washing

Consumers are getting not only more demanding but also a lot more savvy with the sustainability claims pumped out by food and drink brands. Environmental organisations, watchdogs, and investigative journalism have exposed cases of ‘greenwashing’ – false or at the least somewhat stretched environmental claims – creating awareness and skepticism among consumers.

In the UK, organic produce is certified by the Soil Association with 100% plant-based food certified by the Vegan Society; farm animal welfare is certified by the RSPCA amongst others whilst the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) can help you make sustainable decisions around what fish and seafood to buy.

The obvious way to ‘buy better’ is to shop with small local farmers and independent retailers where possible, which can give greater reassurance that the food and drink you put into your body has been produced ethically and sustainably.


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