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Prepare for a stripped down, no-nonsense year in food

Studio H founder Hannerie Visser outlines the key food trends that will shape the coming year – and the decade beyond

20 January 2020 - 17:08 By Hannerie Visser
Home-cooked meals for sharing are one of the biggest food trends for the year ahead.
Home-cooked meals for sharing are one of the biggest food trends for the year ahead.
Image: Hari Nandakuma/Unsplash

It's almost impossible to look at upcoming food trends at the dawn of a new decade without a nod to the major food trends of the decade that was.

Kale was a food that defined the 2010s.
Kale was a food that defined the 2010s.
Image: Ronit Shaked/Unsplash

The biggest food moments of the 2010s included kale, mainly courtesy of Gwyneth Paltrow, until it was knocked off its pedestal by cauliflower around 2014.

We had the years of kimchi, cold-pressed juices and cold-brew coffee in between.

In 2017 we saw turmeric appearing in lattes, 2018 was the year of the humble chickpea and 2019 was all about plant-based diets and meats.

Turning to the year ahead, if trend predictions are an anthropological window into the state of our collective psyche, 2020 looks set to be a stripped-down, no-nonsense year.

Mould (yes, mould) and sobriety will be popular, while vegetable ice cream could become the new comfort food. But saving the planet has a new urgency and remains our key trend influencer.


Diners ... trust their Instagram feeds to guide them

1. The new food critic is you

Consumers now rely on apps and influencers to determine what dishes they want to eat. Diners don’t turn to food critics or restaurant guides any more, but now trust their Instagram feeds to guide them.

2. Human-less food shopping 

Artificial intelligence will drive fast-food restaurants, where delivery apps and in-store menu boards will suggest foods in the same way Netflix recommends movies.

3. The rise of the woman farmer

The rise in plant-based diets prompts innovative ways to meet the increasing demand for greens.

In developing countries, we'll see a rise in support and incentives for small-scale farming, which could turn the focus on to women farmers.

Home cooking is the new special occasion

4. Home cooking

Home cooking is the new special occasion.

Sharing a meal at home has become a sacred moment in our daily lives, where eating out has become the norm. The gathering and ritual of cooking becomes something very special.

5. The art of less

We will see simple, clean plating that makes the food speak louder.

In an era where our phones keep us in contact with the world 24/7, we are always on and we don’t quite know how to manage it. In response, we are seeing a counter-movement emerging in all aspects of our lives, from art and fashion to food. We are reducing clutter, buying less, choosing well and finding meaning in the pursuit of a zero-waste existence.

In food, too, we expect to see most chefs advocating simple, authentic cuisine.



Driven by pop culture and Pantone’s colour of the year, blue is expected to colour more food in 2020, from ube to spirulina. Make ready for an all-blue Instagram feed!

African bird's eye chillies.
African bird's eye chillies.
Image: Supplied

Flavour on fire

Flavour-wise, the world is in love with Africa and chillies. So it's no wonder that peri-peri is taking over hot-sauce aisles the world over, with SA’s Nando’s leading the way - all the while championing the women farmers who grow and harvest by hand all the African bird’s eye chillies used in their products.


Studio H’s full Future Food Report and Flavour Index for 2020/1 will be shared at a trend talk at the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town on January 30.

Tickets can be booked for R350 by e-mailing the Mount Nelson reservations office at restaurantreservations.mnh@belmond.com or by calling 021 483 1948.

Hannerie Visser is the founder and owner of food design agency Studio H.