Unless you were living under a rock last year, you probably noticed the big culinary trends populating social media feeds the world over. From smoothie bowls to freak shakes, there was a wide variety of sometimes extreme recipes dominating popular culture. This year looks set to be no different, with health and environmental concerns still having a huge impact on consumer choice, both in restaurants and supermarkets. Still, you might be surprised by some of the culinary trends for 2018 with unusual food sources and eye-catching creations looking to take over.

Catering trends for 2018 are getting ethical with a focus on sustainability for both food and packaging

Get ethical

Between global warming and a weak pound sterling, there seems to be a lot to worry about in the 21st century. Today’s environmental and economic issues are having an enormous impact on our everyday lives, and food is no exception. Whether heading out to the local restaurant or hunting down canapes at an event, consumer choice is often driven by current events and concerns.

It’s no surprise then, that sustainability is on everyone’s mind this year. In a bid to cut down waste and plastic in particular, organisations and charities the world over have been pushing awareness in the last year. We predict that all that hard work might be about to pay off, with even the government considering reducing food packaging and increasing sustainably sourced foods. Today, consumers want to know where their food comes from, what’s in it and how it’s impacted the environment. Be prepared to get ethical with your food choices this year.

Chefs will need to get creative with their vegan and healthy food recipes

Innovative vegetarian and vegan food

The world is turning vegan, or at least it seems that way. Demand for vegan food increased by a massive 140% last year and looks set to keep rising with the UK is now eating up to 50% less beef. Restaurants are clearly seeing the impact, with sales of vegan dishes at Zizzi increasing by 246% in just one year, while Just Eat reported a demand for vegan and vegetarian food of 987%.

Those are some pretty crazy numbers that will no doubt have an exceptional impact on the culinary world this year. While 2017 was the year of adoption, we think 2018 will be the year of innovation. Restaurants and chefs will step up to the challenge and start creating unique and interesting vegan meals that go beyond the classic stuffed mushrooms and meat substitutes. Think mouth watering veggie burgers with a tasty twist.

Health foods, again

While this has really been a culinary trend for the past year or two, it’s so popular we think it still warrants a place on this year’s list. If you’ve heard the adverts with sugar warnings and 100 calorie snacks, then you’d be right in thinking that healthy eating is still very much front of mind for pretty much everybody. Just like vegan food, we think healthy foods are about to give a huge facelift… again. Even more innovation in this area will spur plenty of new trends both at home and in restaurants with plant-based foods, in particular, playing a starring role this year.

Culinary trends for 2018 will see local beer and wine plus light snacks take over our traditional meals and beverage choices

A light snack or two

The health food craze has given snacking a bit of a bad name with crisps and chocolate getting a big thumbs down from experts. This year, we think the very trend that has made snacking so unpopular is about to launch it to new heights of its own.

The notorious avocado toast looks to be just the beginning of a new healthy snacking trend that focuses on light bites during the day rather than the three huge meals. Busy lifestyles are making set meal times a thing of the past while a craving for experiences rather than material products has made dining out more popular than ever. This has resulted in grazing on the go healthy food and sharing tapas-style dishes. Canapes at events are also taking the limelight this year.

Going local with beer and wine

Craft beers were massive last year with IPA’s and microbreweries really coming into their own. Now, this trend looks set to take it a step further with a focus on locally sourced beer and wine. Just like ethical food, consumers will look to know more about where their drinks come from while a weak pound has also made our favourite imported drinks more expensive. English sparkling wine has seen significant sales increases recently and we have no doubt this trend will continue to influence sales of other local drinks.

Colour will dominate catering trends for 2018 will unicorn inspired rainbow creations

Picture perfect food

Health and sustainability aren’t the only current topics influencing culinary trends for 2018. In a time where it takes just a few seconds to share an image around the world, we are now also a population of obsessive documenters. The rise of Instagram means many of us are snapping our favourite creations, but it’s not your average bangers and mash making the cut.

This year is going to get colourful with rainbow food and other eye-catching colours set to take over social media. We saw this a little towards the end of last year with the likes of freak shakes, but things are about to get even brighter with unicorn inspired recipes taking over. This includes rainbow bagels, waffles and even burgers. If that seems a bit much, then keep it simple with one bright colour to catch the consumer's eye. You never know, the next viral picture could be of your very own recipe.