From moringa to pumpkin, freshness comes first with 2020 food trends

The run in to a new year presents a fun time to gaze into the crystal ball and conjure up the future of eating.

Here are some products and concepts to watch out for as we enter the Twenties.

Out of Africa:

Flavours from Ghana, Nigeria and the Ivory Coast have been tipped as The Next Big Thing for a while, but 2020 could finally be the break-through year for West African cuisine.

At organic retailer Whole Foods Market, buyers and foragers across the US grocer’s 490 stores (there are seven outlets in London) examine product sourcing and consumer choices to draw up their annual trends list. Superfoods and traditional West African dishes, for which tomatoes, onions and chilli peppers form a base, are tipped for the top.

So, look out for moringa (a “miracle tree” touted as “the next quinoa”) and tamarind as well as cereal grains such as sorghum, fonio, teff and millet.

Plumb for pumpkins:

The distinctive squash is primed for an avocado-style make-over in hipster cafés and veggie restaurants.

Expect to see smashed pumpkin on toast, decked with a limitless array of toppings. Packed with potassium and beta-carotene, pumpkins also feature vitamins C and E, which have been linked to healthy skin.

Typically deep yellow to orange, pumpkins come in an array of colours including green and blue-grey. China and India are the world’s largest producers.

What a waste:

The debate is moving away from recycling and re-using food “waste” to tackling the problem at source – and not making too much food in the first place. It is estimated that a third of the food produced in the world for human consumption (about 1.3 billion tonnes a year) gets lost or wasted.

Fruits and vegetables, plus roots and tubers, have the worst wastage rates – 45% are left to rot. Although leading supermarkets have made pledges to cut waste and the inherent environmental damage, it will be interesting to see how restaurants, particularly mass catering operations, respond to public pressure.

Share the “seacuterie”:

Meat platters of cured sausages, a popular sharing dish for informal dining settings, face a challenge from “seacuterie,” says Waitrose. The trend incorporates the popular move towards smoking, fermenting, ageing, brining and pickling.

UK chefs have been producing meat boards using artisan UK products for some time so the aquatic version was probably only a matter of time. Preserving techniques are obviously a great way to combat food waste, too. It’s time to share the shellfish.

Your good health:

Spiralling obesity levels, the health risks posed by over-eating, taxes on sugar, bad press over processed meats and red meat, reduced alcohol consumption levels… it’s no surprise the focus will be on healthy eating in 2020.

Fast-food will no longer (necessarily) have negative connotations as operators increase “fast healthy” options for time-strapped consumers. Plant-based “burgers,” that mimic the appearance and taste of ground beef, appear to be far from a flash in the pan, and we can expect to see greater experimentation with new flavours and eye-catching presentations of vegan-inspired products.

Freshness and natural ingredients will be at the top of consumers’ wish-lists as foods packed with additives get the cold shoulder.