New food trends for 2016

By
Eve O'Sullivan
Added
21 January, 2016

Without doubt, 2015 was the year of kimchi, avocados and salted caramel (again)... But what’s in store for 2016? We spoke to Kelly Molloy, food buyer at Harvey Nichols, to find out how our favourite shops predict the next big thing.



Is it always the case that what’s going on in restaurants will reflect what’s in the shops a few weeks or months later?

Yes and no – I think it’s unique to every single trend. We take our inspiration from as many sources as possible to ensure our offering is a truly unique one. Although we are inspired by the restaurant scene and top chefs, we are also influenced by bloggers and recipe writers – particularly with regards to the clean eating category – as well as fashion, sport and cultural trends.


What were the most popular trend items sold last year?

Anything gin related flies off our shelves – gin making kits, books, such as Gin: The Manual by Dave Broom. Similarly, products with salted caramel are very popular – we joke that we could sell out of anything as long as it has salted caramel in it!


Are there any predicted trends from 2015 that just didn’t take off?

Things move so fast in the world of food and the great thing about Harvey Nichols is that we have such a short lead time we can introduce new products as trends take hold. I think that most trends do have their moment. From enhanced waters such as maple water and birch water to paleo, quinoa and tahini, we’ve seen almost all of these products or category offerings grow. Our customers are always keen to try new products and innovations.





What three things are you most excited about for 2016?

Coffee. I’m personally a huge fan and our customers are very interested in quality coffee from artisan producers. We’re expanding our range this year to meet customer demand. We’re also excited to be the first to launch purple matcha tea, which I think will be the new green matcha tea. We’re working with an ethical tea farmer (Williamson Tea) who has combined purple tea leaves – which are naturally higher in antioxidants - with matcha to make a powerhouse tea that is brimming with even more goodness than green matcha. This beautiful, tasty tea will be my go-to drink in January. Similarly, there’s a lot of innovation in the wellbeing category so we’re delighted to be able to introduce new products to our customers, such as savoury granola from Qnola (so moreish – great sprinkled on avocado, soups or salads) and raw chocolate thins from Sweet Virtues. Sweet Virtues products are packed with superfood ingredients, they genuinely taste good and have added nutritional benefits.


What dishes from the London food scene have influenced food buyers?

I think the popularity of Japanese food has inspired us to take on more Japanese kitchen and cooking ingredients, as our customers are looking to cook more with miso, seaweed and umami flavours. I think this has been driven by the Japanese restaurant scene, such as Scott Hallsworth from Kurobuta (who has recently opened Kurobuta at Harvey Nichols Knightsbridge). Similarly, our customers have been inspired by the Middle Eastern restaurant and food scene. Honey & Co near Fitzrovia and Arabica in Borough Market have certainly helped to grow interest in the category, and subsequently we now stock orange blossom waters, pomegranate molasses and tahini. We even stock Arabica’s own brand kitchen ingredients, which are brilliant staples for most cooks.


Can you name five perennially popular items?

Cookbooks are always big sellers, particularly, I think, because we often have signed copies from the authors. Quality, origin chocolate bars – they’re a great treat or an easy gift – such as Artisan du Chocolat; good oils and vinegars; hot sauces with funny labels – often I think it’s more about bravado than taste, but chilli and spice are definitely big sellers amongst our customers. Teas and coffees always do well, too.


When buying for a department store, do you go with a particular theme for the season?

We have the luxury of being able to react quickly and move with trends. Seasons often play into it – the most obvious example being Christmas – but mostly, I’d say, we move with the trends.




Are there any particular trends in edible gifts for this year?

Cocktail kits and anything that’s ‘make your own’. Again, beautifully packaged chocolates work well in this category and anything that’s fun to cook with or would add an element of fun or a talking point at a dinner party.


Is there a food trend that has taken everyone by surprise in recent years?

I think the prominence of smoked foods, spirits and liqueurs. We knew it would be a big and an interesting trend, but we’re amazed by how long it has lasted and the smoked category offering – it encompasses almost every food and drink item!


If we had to put five key ingredients in our shopping baskets in 2016, what would they be, and why?

A high quality extra virgin oil is a must; good salt from a great producer, such as Halen Mon from Angelsey or Rivsalt; a great and flavourful dark chocolate (to snack on or for cooking purposes!); matcha tea – there’s so much you can do with it from a cooking perspective, and it can add a beautiful depth of flavour to cakes and dressings, especially our new purple matcha tea; and orange blossom water and pomegranate molasses, these are now kitchen staples for so many of our customers. There’s also lots of talk about seaweed as a key ingredient for this year – it’s really versatile. Our sales of Japanese nori (including wakame, not just sushi nori) have been on the increase lately. We also stock the locally grown Mara Seaweed from Scotland.


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