Person holding a phone taking a photo of breakfast with blurred background

Squirrel dinners, “social refuelling” and the return of the pub snug will be part of the new world order in hospitality, according to trend-watchers.

Predictions about the way we eat and drink are rarely dull. Usually somebody has got something to sell.

If the forecast is boring, no one will pay attention to it – or buy the product or service that is linked to the editorial.

Lesson 1: treat all trend predictions with extreme caution.

However, there are occasions when it is worth taking note, especially when the crystal-ball gazing comes from someone like Simon Stenning, a market analyst at trend-spotters Future Food Service.

Stenning has put together a report on the Future of Foodservice 2025-2030, outlining “significant changes” in the industry.

It has been apparent for some time that the casual dining sector is facing severe challenges. Market saturation and rising supplier and staffing costs means operators have to have distinctive, quality products to survive. Perhaps it is time for a new way of thinking?

Stenning tips the emergence of a new concept called “social refuelling.” Major brands such as Wagamama, Nando’s and YO! Sushi will harness technology effectively and ensure a “fast, fun eating experience, that can’t really be described as dining.” Consumers will turn their backs on casual dining and adopt social refuelling “as they seek to fit more into busier lifestyles,” it is claimed.

Friends together in pub with bottles on table

The Great British boozer has suffered well documented problems. More than 11,000 pubs have closed in the last decade, that’s almost a quarter, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Smaller pubs have borne the brunt as major chains have strengthened their position with bigger bars.

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Stenning says: “The Great British Pub will rise once more, with a net increase in their number, thriving through their accommodation supporting the leisure market, and by meeting the needs of multi-generational households living together.

“We will see new formats of pubs with working areas and entertainment zones, and the return of the snug as dedicated, quiet drinking spaces, clearly separated from dining areas.”

Yes, you read that correctly: pubs will have areas where you can drink in peace without a server asking if you’ve ordered a pizza and a super-food salad.

Diners’ interest in food sustainability, provenance and authenticity, already major factors today, will heighten in importance, and although we may be eating less meat in 2030, we will still be eating it. Expect to see more goat, game and, apparently, squirrel, appearing on menus.

Nutkin burrito, anyone?