A journey through the World of Food with TsAfrika

“…never before has our culture been so engaged in discussing, experimenting with, agonising over, fantasising about and plain enjoying what is on the end of our forks” – Observer Food Monthly, Guardian Newspaper, 15 May 2011

Ethnicity

‘Ethnic’ takes on new inspirations all the time. International operators are moving past traditional flavours and experimenting with new ingredients and dishes with Asian, Latin and Mediterranean influence.

Sweet chilli sauce

Both the African and the Thai version are now so popular globally that it is on the McDonald’s menu.

Harissa

North African Hot Sauce is made with garlic, cayenne pepper, Spanish paprika, powdered cumin, coriander seeds, olive oil, and salt. It is very hot and is typically used as a spicy dipping sauce, although its also very good as a marinade.

Tzatziki

From the Mediterranean, the Greek yogurt sauce tzatziki is showing up on menu items from Cheesecake to Salad and as an accompaniment to the simple steak.

Chipotle paste

Chipotles are smoke-dried jalapeño peppers popular in Mexican cooking. A delicious blend of chipotle peppers, onions and tomatoes creates this wonderfully rich paste that adds a deliciously hot, smoky flavour to everything from pasta sauces to baked beans. Try stirring it into cottage cheese to create a great dip.

Protein

Of any kind really. Whey protein has been huge in sports nutrition for years, but is now starting to filter into the mass market with brands like Designer Whey and The Biggest Loser. But because of the huge demand, as well as increased dairy consumption in Asia, prices have shot up to unparalleled heights. Many plant-based proteins are growing in popularity.

World-on-a-plate

Specialty ingredients – look out for some of these items and ingredients – pork belly, specialty breads using obscure ingredients, and INTERESTING NEW OILS (flax, omega, ground nut, coconut).

Our relationship with food

We live in a period of time where consumers interact with food in new and different ways.

Consumers are interacting with food in new ways when purchasing:

We can research calorie counts, nutrition facts and other information while shopping.

Consumers are being influenced in new ways when they make these food purchasing decisions:

Think about SASSI, which will give you background that can help you with your ‘ethical’ food decisions.

A change in how they manage their food intake:

Track our food consumption on a calorie-by-calorie, product by product basis.

A change in food packaging:

Research firm Reportlinker notes that we now get “interactive packaging, intelligent and active packaging, multi-sensory packaging, edible packaging … and packaging as mini-billboards”. Packaging is going from passive to active, and is becoming more than just the vehicle for branding – increasingly, it is defining our relationship with the food.

At-Home Gourmet

Today’s consumer wants the restaurant experience at home. Manufacturers and brands are increasingly using pre-prepared fresh ingredients to create restaurant-quality meals at home as well as utilising faster cooking methods – this will only continue to grow in appeal. Consumers will expect the convenient food products they buy to have added-value convenience: more nutritionally balanced, contain more ‘natural’ ingredients and provide more reasons to buy.

Sociability

In today’s busy environment, food that encourages social experiences is an important part of our lives …

Involvement food:

Today’s customer wants to interact in the preparation process and be part of the food experience. Modern trends towards stir-fry’s, woks, curry tables and customised sandwiches are growing.

Bite sizing … ROUND THINGS THAT GO POP IN THE MOUTH:

Kimchee- and Parmesan-filled arancini, fried goat cheese balls, spherical falafel, meat balls of all kinds, bacalao croquettes, crispy oxtail risotto balls – all of them dropped briefly in the fryer and served with multi-ethnic sauces and dips – are becoming hot-hot sharable bar food. They’re contemporary, drink-friendly finger food and no one seems to mind the calories. Also: mini sandwiches with banh mi flavors, Korean meatball sliders, all sorts of global chicken lollypops, ceviches, flatbreads from everywhere, dishes with fried green tomatoes and more.

A new frugality – changing consumer behaviour:

Consumers are definitely becoming more considered when it comes to spending – as seen outside the industry with price comparison websites and a raft of new smartphone apps that offer comparison information on everything from price to nutritional content. Today’s consumers want more flavour for their spend. A consequence of the tough economic times is that people want the fullest, richest experience when they eat out. TsAfrika chefs have responded by including high-quality, unique ingredients into dishes.

EARLY DRINKING, LATE NIGHT DINING

People making sales and service calls as well as supervisory staff, are spending more time in their cars, so they’re shifting social times to cocktails at four and dinner at ten. That’s because they’ve chatted and texted with colleagues who are also scattered on the highways, and 4 pm is a logical time to rendezvous somewhere, unwind with a cocktail and maybe have the lunch that was missed earlier. Hotels are big beneficiaries and they’ll be upscaling drink lists, bar food and furnishings. Road warriors and late-working desk jockeys get a second wind long after dark, congregating in better restaurant bars, and hotels that are now revving up flavours and presentations, but still pricing things so that they are “affordable luxuries”.

Health

Health is the number one trend in Food globally. But this needn’t mean boring, tasteless or routine. Today’s health-conscious consumer is looking for an interaction with food that is good for them, and food that gives them an experience – of learning, of travel, of discovery and of being responsible for the planet

So THAT’s What it Tastes Like!

There is an interesting byproduct of the health movement when it comes to food. Less sodium, fresher locally-sourced produce, and fewer smokers in restaurants mean people are tasting ingredients as they were meant to be — sometimes for the first time. We can also credit menu transparency and menu labeling, since companies are making a real effort to keep all those scary-sounding ingredients out of the mix.

‘Free from’ foods

The crux of this market lies within the seemingly growing number of consumers who do not have a diagnosed food allergy but do believe their general health improves with the omission of certain foodstuffs from their diet. For example, avoiding wheat/gluten to combat bloating. Herein lies an opportunity for mainstream manufacturers to highlight additional product benefits and for traditional ‘free from’ brands to break the niche mould within which they’ve traditionally operated.

On-going demand for natural

While the hype around the natural trend has dampened slightly, the effects are on-going, particularly as larger multinationals weigh up the cost/benefit of switching to natural components (e.g. food colours, flavours). However, the practicalities have set in and companies now need to consider issues such as the sustainability of supply as well as the longevity of consumer demand in their particular product area (e.g. those product categories with inherent natural associations are likely to remain in demand).

More nutraceuticals

Probiotics seem to bridge the gap between naturally healthy foods and those with ingredients added to support health – nutraceuticals. The yogurt market, the original home to probiotics, is growing by double digits, and the beneficial bacteria are popping up in other dairy products, juice drinks, bars, chocolate, energy drinks, teas, and even dog food.

Indulgence

As ever with food, the emergence of exciting ingredients creates many new examples for pure, absolute, unapologetic pleasure. Here’ s what hot and emerging:

Waffles:

Waffles are making a global comeback in new guises. They offer versatility, indulgence and favorable food costs, and are easily adaptable for those that seek to be creative.

Korean food

Korean food has been hot globally for some time and continues to be so, dividing into Progressive, Traditional and Fusion Cuisine. With salty-sweet barbeque, spicy stews and tangy kimchi, Korean cuisine is known for its bold, sharp profiles and today’s chefs have taken these deep, layered flavours and morphed them into a modern cuisine that is undeniably in demand. Bulgogi, kimchee, kalbi, bibimbap are all the rage in Wednesday food sections, which means that shelter magazines will start running dumbed-down recipes in 2012 and we wouldn’t be shocked to see Korean-inflected fried chicken appearing on some chain menus. Look for upscale places to serve items poached or braised in kimchee broth augmented with Asian and non-Asian flavors. You’ll probably find red pepper paste (kochujang) in your supermarket’s ethnic food sections next

Cupcakes:

Cupcakes have taken the world by storm. There are even entire TV shows dedicated to them now in Europe and the USA. Cupcakes are an art form of their own. They embrace all the senses, as well as affordability and health. It is a lot better for one to eat one cupcake than to have dessert. Cupcakes have jumped occasions to all parts of the day, including dinner, and are also appearing in different product categories, including toothpaste and cosmetics. For the ultimate, try a guacamole cupcake with lime jelly topped with sliced jalapeno.

Hotdogs:

Hotdogs are experiencing a revival, with numerous manufacturers, restaurants and chains marketing premium hotdogs, regional hotdogs, build-your-own hotdogs and even breakfast hotdogs with pork loin breakfast sausage and smoked bacon.