The catering industry is constantly evolving. On a seemingly continuous basis, chefs around the world are conjuring up delicious new recipes and spice blends, experimenting with different ingredients and introducing us to dishes we’ve never seen before. From a caterer’s point of view, sometimes it can prove incredibly difficult to keep up with these shifting trends.

However, now that 2019 is well underway, we’re finally starting to get a much better sense of what the world of food and drink will look like this year. With an emphasis on health, exotic regional flavours and enough meat-free options to make the head spin, you’ll need to get your head around these new trends before restocking your kitchen and dealing with any suppliers to the foodservice industry.

Here are the top food trends caterers need to look out for if they want to stay popular and current this year:

Vegan Cuisine

Veganism has come a long way in recent times. Perhaps once closely associated with attention-seeking hipsters and often met with complete derision, vegan dishes are rapidly becoming a staple of the British diet. In fact, according to The Vegan Society, over 25% of all evening meals are now vegan or vegetarian in the UK.

Since there are now over 600,000 vegans in the UK, caterers obviously need to make sure their menu is inclusive of such a large demographic. You only need to look at the recent success of the Greggs vegan sausage roll to understand just how popular veganism is becoming in the UK and, of course, other parts of the world.

However, it’s no longer just a case of throwing together a quick nut wellington, because vegan dishes are now expected to be much more exciting. Instead of being stuck with a dull tofu salad, vegans are now enjoying macaroni cheese, sweet potato burgers, pizzas and vibrant curries, while the rise of plant-based meat substitutes are opening up all kinds of interesting possibilities.

In 2019, vegan menus look set to become even bigger—and caterers all over the country need to join the revolution.

Restaurant Food at Home

Without question, this is the year of delivery. The likes of Uber Eats, Deliveroo and Just Eat have revolutionised the fast food delivery game, with most of the UK now spending much more on takeaways than they do in restaurants. In 2019, however, these two worlds are expected to collide, with modern delivery services now allowing diners to enjoy restaurant-quality food in the comfort of their own home.

No longer limited to the local Chinese takeaway, people are choosing to order food from their favourite restaurants, bars and pubs, with Deliveroo now working with well over 10,000 establishments across the UK. Although this trend is certainly nothing new, the popularity of these gourmet takeaways is expected to increase even further, with the NPD Group predicting that delivery will grow by at least 17% in the next two years.

Grab & Go

The modern world is an incredibly busy place. For many of us, a typical day will involve at least 8 hours in the office, a quick gym session and then an evening looking after the kids. Due to the rise of smartphone technology, we’re now always connected to friends, family and colleagues, while also having constant access to countless social media platforms, instant messaging and video streaming services.

In such a rushed and frantic society, it can be incredibly difficult to squeeze so much into a single day. More importantly, a significant number of people struggle to find time to prepare healthy and nutritious meals on a daily basis, instead preferring to grab food and go as they attempt to work around their busy lifestyles.

However, fast food has always been notorious for being high in saturated fat, salt and leading to all kinds of health problems. In 2019, busy professionals instead want to pick up snacks which offer real nutritional value; as the younger generations begin to see healthy eating as a necessary way of life. By providing an array of quick, convenient and nutritious meals, caterers can gain a significant advantage over their competitors this year.

Experimental Ice Cream

Let’s face it, everyone loves ice cream. For decades, standard vanilla, chocolate and strawberry flavours have suited us all right down to the ground, but now ice cream parlours are starting to get much more experimental with their recipes. Although dairy-free ice cream is now fairly common-place, we’re now being treated to hummus, avocado and charcoal flavours, as seemingly every kitchen ingredient is whipped up into a tasty dessert.

While there’s certainly nothing wrong with a good old-fashioned scoop of vanilla, the prospect of trying inventive Italian gelato and alcoholic sorbet may well be too intriguing to turn down. Now that ice cream is becoming a little more grown up, summer just can’t come quick enough.