With the festive season just a few months away, now is a key time for establishments to finalise Christmas plans. Beacon, Britain’s leading purchasing company, has worked closely with its suppliers to identify five of the latest hospitality trends for Christmas 2018, giving operators the chance to get ahead of the game.
Alice Bexon and Clare O’Brien, Food and Drink Purchasing Managers respectively at Beacon, share their thoughts. Alice commented: “It’s essential for operators to consider the latest trends for the busy Christmas period sooner rather than later. Whether it is exploring delicious traditional dishes or finding new festive flavours, it is important to think about all factors when it comes to creating an appealing seasonal offering to stand out in a very competitive market.”
- Stepping away from traditions
As arguably the highest profile and busiest celebration of the year within the foodservice sector, it’s vital for establishments to offer a dedicated festive menu. Our supplier Brakes highlights that while the traditional turkey and Christmas pudding is much loved and expected by many diners, other consumers may prefer something a little less mainstream. Foods such as festive-themed burgers are becoming more commonplace according to insight from Fairfax Meadow, while a twist on the typical turkey tradition sees smoked and barbecued options increasing in popularity.
- Booze-infused dining
Fairfax Meadow is also confident that they will see prosecco-based marinades increasing in popularity, alongside other booze-infused options, during Christmas 2018. They highlight that alcohol such as mulled wine and cider, port, brandy, rum and gin, and fruity flavours including pomegranate, orange and mulled cranberries are all expected to perform well and satisfy customers’ festive cravings this year.
- A time for sharing
Small plates and sharer portions are also becoming more commonplace according to Fairfax Meadow, with many people moving away from the traditional three-course Christmas meal in favour of a more social-style event. Bite-sized foods like stuffing balls, pigs in blankets and festive skewers are great examples of how this can be achieved simply, while retaining seasonal favourites.
- A tipple with your turkey
With the number of adults becoming teetotal increasing, and more than a quarter of 16-24 year olds not drinking at all, Christmas is not just a time for cocktails, but mocktails too. Juices are an increasingly popular base for occasion drinks, with insight from Oranka Juice Solutions showing that traditional mixers such as lemon and lime are slowly being pushed out for more seasonal and unusual flavours. Flavours like peach and rhubarb make a delicious and versatile cocktail base, while adding variety and something different to a drinks menu, and with regards to seasonal flavours there is often a rise in the sale of traditional cranberry and redberry flavours around Christmas.
It’s not just the offering that needs to be attractive to consumers but also the pricing. Brakes highlights that a premium price higher than that of an everyday menu tends to be accepted, due to the nature of the celebration, but suggests that the dining experience can be enhanced by simply, and cheaply, including some added extras into Christmas packages. This includes fun and festive party accessories like crackers, balloons, hats and streamers, as well as celebratory drinks such as champagne, prosecco or cocktails. These additions can all help justify a higher price point while keeping costs low for the caterer.
Clare summarises: “By planning for Christmas well in advance and incorporating the latest trends, while also exploring some quirky or new additions, operators will have the edge over competitors, and be set for a successful festive period.”