‘Tis the season to eat holly – or indeed anything that’s green, in what could be the most plant-orientated Christmas in recent memory.
Turnips, the Borough Market-based fruit and veg wholesaler and retailer, has released a 10-strong list of plant-based predictions for the festive period, ranging from baby veg to fermentation experimentation.
According to Turnips, we’ll be seeing vegetable dishes sharing the stage with turkey – the traditional festive showstopper – and chefs looking more towards produce with clear provenance and heritage.
Continuing the wholesale focus, Diane Camp, executive development chef at Reynolds Catering, has also shared her views with Food Spark on what to expect in 2020 – namely, more veg (something we explored in great detail in our recent Food Trends 2020 report).
“I believe that plant protein and flexitarian diets will be on the increase next year, with a lot of dining establishments driving ‘meat-free Mondays’ and ‘green Mondays,’ which is promoting both vegan eating as well as healthy eating,” notes Camp.
The accidental vegan
“With the rise of vegan options, we will also have the ‘accidental vegan.’ By that, I mean people will be choosing to eat the vegan option on the menu not because it’s vegan but because they really like the sound of the dish, or just really like the type of dish,” Camp says.
“And vegan products are so good these days that some restaurants are choosing to make the swap across their entire estate. For example, changing regular mayonnaise to a vegan mayonnaise.”
Speaking of vegan mayo, the recent success of Hellman’s version has not gone unnoticed. It has amassed £1.2m since launch last September (Nielsen), making it the bestselling sauce innovation of the past year, accounting for 32% of all NPD sales.
Mushrooms are big players in the alternatives game and Turnips believe that a wider, more exotic selection of fungi (and fruit) could come into play this Christmas and beyond.
“We’ve specialised in wild and unusual mushrooms for over 20 years, but in the last few years we’ve seen a significant increase in mushroom sales,” said Turnips in their ‘Christmas Fruit & Vegetable Trends 2019’ report.
“In part this is due to people seeking out ‘meaty’ and strong-flavoured vegetables to replace meat in their diet. Think beyond bland button mushrooms to beefsteak, puffballs and chicken of the woods… Mushrooms, of course, are also popular for brunch – replacing the traditional bacon and black pudding.”
Along with an exotic mushroom trend, Turnips also forecast growth for exotic fruit, with unusual colours and flavours from the Southern Hemisphere worth keeping an eye on. This extends to edible flowers, micro salads and purple veg in general.
Nuts to snacking
Grazing and snacking is a clear trend at present, with the UK one of the biggest snacking nations in the world. In line with this, Turnips have seen a rise in sales of nuts such as chestnuts and cashews.
Diane Camp is firmly of the opinion that snacking as a consumer trend will continue to grow and evolve.
“Snacking is definitely a new way of eating as people are finding it easier to eat little and often,” explains Camp. “This movement has enabled snacking to evolve and it is no longer just an ambient option. Snacking has moved to the ‘fresh counter,’ were we can now choose from a selection of snacks, which could include raw vegetables and hummus as well as freshly baked muffins.
“I think this trend will grow in 2020, with a focus on good protein snacks, which will be both plant-based and non-plant based.”