A renewed health focus is top of most people’s lists of new year resolutions. But healthy doesn’t have to mean boring. Have a look at the food trends for 2023 and take some inspiration from a restaurateur whose offering ticks all the boxes.
The Speciality Food Association (SFA) Trendspotter Panel comprises professionals from diverse segments of the culinary world, from restaurant owners to food and sustainability consultants, from chefs to academics, representatives of industry bodies and food stylists. They predict the following trends for 2023:
- Convenience Is King ― Melanie Bartelme of Mintel, a global award-winning market intelligence agency. “The coming year will pave the way for curated meal kits with specialty foods that one can make and serve at home without sacrificing authenticity, convenience, and taste,” says the panel’s report.
- Environmentally Friendly Foods ― “If convenience is top, sustainability and environmental concerns are a close runner up. Visionary entrepreneurs are creating seed-to-shelf future supply chains, restoration of more localized, biodynamic food systems, and indigenous farming practices, soil fertility, and seed diversity.”
- Alt Seafood ― “As consumers are lured by more sustainable options, they are catching on to seafood alternatives.”
- Health In Balance ― “Consumers will seek more balance between their desire for health and indulgence … Following stringent healthful routines can also be stressful and the past several years have jump-started the need for joy.”
- Pantry Without Borders ― “Globally inspired condiments, sauces, oils, and seasonings will champion approachable everyday adventure… this wave of texture and flavour offers complex, nuanced blends of herbs, spice, speciality chillies, fruit, rich nuts and seeds, and punches of umami.”
- Nuanced Heat ― “For 2023, the desire for boldness and intensity in flavour experiences will increase … The flavours are more nuanced, far from the days of hot or not.”
- Naturally Occurring Sweeteners ― “Real food ingredients that fulfil sweet cravings are pushing back against the health halo of natural sugar alternatives that undergo significant processing.”
- International Fruits ― “Amid the tightening pressures of a global recession and a slowing economy, consumers want to elicit feelings of escapism without travel or exorbitant cost.”
- Packaging For New Forms And Functions ― Look for “a heightened emphasis on packaging design to communicate sustainability, introduce creative ways to consume and decant … and telegraph aspirational consumer values and price point.”
Have you been poké-ed yet?
Riding as near as you can come to the bulls-eye of those trends is The Poké Co, a firm favourite with health-conscious customers for their fast, casual dining experience and healthy, delicious poké bowls. To date, an average of 16000 of these bowls are sold every month!
Pronounced POH-keh, “poké” is a Hawaiian word that means to cut or slice. Originally it referred to raw, marinated seafood – often tuna – served in a bowl with rice, vegetables and umami-style sauces. Think: all the flavours you love in sushi and Asian food, rediscovered in a unique and convenient way.
Poké can be found everywhere in Hawaii, from smart restaurants to roadside stands and petrol stations. The founder of Poké Co discovered the trend in Bali, and immediately knew it would be a hit back home. And it has been – six restaurants have been launched in six years, all in the Western Cape, the latest opened its doors in December in Somerset West.
Besides the clean, umami flavours, every fresh, health-supporting ingredient served in a Poké Co bowl can be traced right to its source, which is direct from local fishers and small-scale farmers. “It is all sustainable,” confirms co-founder Andrew Flanagan.
“At Poké Co there’s something for everyone. There are tuna, salmon and prawn choices, of course, and there are vegan, chicken and beef bowls too, plus customers have the option of building their own bowls. All are served on a base of your choice with sesame seeds, spring onion and togarashi spice. We now also offer a healthy breakfast menu – think delicious smoothie bowls, overnight oats and a variety of smashed avo toast options for everyone to enjoy.”
Flanagan explains that the success of the company is built on the unique food and experience: “People are looking for concept-driven, smaller restaurants and fast-food options other than pizza, burger and chicken. I’m not surprised to find that we tick almost all those trend boxes. Maybe we were ahead of the curve!” he laughs.
Regarding the opening of his sixth store, Flanagan explains that it was in response to popular demand. “More and more of our customers were asking us on social media to open in Somerset West, and here we are!” he said from the latest restaurant at The Forum, 13 Drama Street Somerset West. “Our Stellenbosch store, which opened earlier this year, has been a great success so opening a second Helderberg outlet was a natural extension of our business.”
The Poké Co offers a loyalty app that allows customers to order ahead for either delivery or pick-up and earn loyalty points at the same time. They also offer a catering service.
The Poké Co’s mission is to create simple food with ethically sourced ingredients to give customers a delicious meal, along with a great atmosphere and customer experience. They serve poké bowls, smoothie bowls, healthy breakfast bowls, homemade cold-pressed juices, hot beverages and even poke-burritos (burrito, but think sushi). Their store locations include: Loop Street, Kloof Street, Sea Point, Claremont, Stellenbosch and now Somerset West. www.pokecoct.com