Hazel Davis asked me how easy it is to forecast and spot trends in food

Finding inspiration:

The Guardian asked me how small business owners can identify the trends they should take note of, for their food business…. some of my thoughts are in this article.

Jane Milton, a food industry expert who works with producers and retailers to develop ideas, says the adventure shown by Ahi Poké’s founders is vital for gauging emerging foods. Her trendspotting suggestions for business owners include: “Eating out, reading new cookbooks, travelling and looking for opportunities to bring foods and flavours, or combinations of flavour, from other countries back to the UK market.”

Food trends can go from concept to launch in just a few weeks if they are being introduced to an existing restaurant or cafe, says Milton. However, in retail – where you need to package and shelf-life test a product, then sell it to a distributor or retailer – it will take at least 16 weeks from idea to launch.

Of course, some trends stick around – cupcakes, for example. “Hummingbird, Primrose Bakery or Sweet Couture have all lasted longer than you might have thought at the outset,” says Milton. “They have succeeded in becoming an everyday product.”

This is partly by continuing to update their offering by tapping into smaller fads, Milton says. They have recently added matcha- and chai- flavoured cupcakes to their menu, for example.

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