The Top Food Trends for 2019


At a recent food trend insights event held in Johannesburg, South Africa, Chef James Diack, a pioneer of provenance and recent recipient of the SASSI Trailblazer Award for 2018, provided insight into some of the top sustainable eating trends for 2019.

According to James, source and cost are the two biggest driving forces about what consumers are choosing to put on their plate…

Knowing where the food and wine comes from that I serve in my restaurant is paramount – and it’s definitely becoming more and more prominent in today’s society“. – Chef James Diack

An amalgamation of rising costs, and genuine concern for the source of food over the past year, will see a combination of food trends emerging in 2019.

Here we share a few ways to think smarter about your food, and shop smarter with your money.

Top Trends for Food in 2019

Katsu pork

Katsu, or “cutlet” in Japanese, refers to various cuts (often the cheaper cuts) of meat that have been pounded to be really thin before cooking. The meat, usually pork or chicken, is seasoned, dredged in flour and egg, and then bread-crumbed. It’s growing in popularity in the States – similar to how the taco gained notoriety, and now here in South Africa too.

Katsu has shone a light on the issues surrounding pig farming around the world and people are starting to pay more attention to what cut is being used, where was it farmed, and what it was fed. Similar to how the growth in the Wagyu beef trend started.

Alternative grains

A growth in wheat and gluten allergies has rocked the local restaurant scene. To keep up, chefs are having to seek out alternative grains to replace traditional wheat products. Think Pearl Barley, Quinoa, Farro and Split Oats. Alternative grains are great for pasta-type dishes, salads and even for making crumbs.

Root to tip

Using the whole plant reduces food waste and reduces costs. A year ago, a kilogram of lemons cost around R35 per kilo, now you’re looking at over R100 per kilo. Food prices are showing a sharp increase and this means you can’t afford to waste a thing.

Citrus fruits like lemons and oranges can be used for the zest one day and juiced the next. Carrot tops can be baked for a garnish, or ground into a green pesto. The same concept applies to proteins – using all parts of an animal when cooking – even the offal!


Inland fish

The current world economic climate is putting everyone’s pockets under pressure. Sourcing fish from inland and responsibly-farmed sources is not only more sustainable for home chefs and restaurant kitchens, but it’s definitely more cost-effective.

SASSI’s “Green, Orange, Red” guide is not only helping consumers make better seafood choices, but Chefs too. Consumers are becoming more SASSI savvy and insisting that responsible restaurants should only feature green-listed fish on their menu’s

Using local fresh-water farmed trout to replace imported Scottish or Norwegian means less import and less transport costs. It also holds all the qualities of the imported salmon – but it’s fresher and costs a quarter less than the European version.


Simple dishes, simple prices.

One of the biggest threats to midweek dining in the US, Europe and Australia right now is food boxes – the buying or delivery of either pre-made meals, or the ingredients to prepare the meals at home.

Many people having moved to these offerings because they feel some restaurant dishes are over-complicated and they pay inflated prices. So, in response, restaurants are including simpler offerings on their menus, making everyday meals special, simple, and well-priced.

Vegetables for dessert

The seasonality of berries, means, they aren’t available all-year round (unless you freeze them) and a move to sweet and sour combinations has led chefs to seek out alternatives, often in the form of vegetables, such as beetroot. When cooked down, beetroot gains a sweet flavour and can be incorporated into many desserts such as ice-cream.

Coravin wine

Consumers want to drink great wine by the glass, but often the bottle is too expensive to open for just one customer. Enter the Coravin wine preservation system – it pours wine without removing the cork from the bottle, thus preserving it, and giving people, who can’t necessarily buy a bottle, a chance to enjoy a glass.


For 2019 most food trends will be hinged on provenance – knowing exactly where ingredients are coming from, but also creating and maintaining sustainable food businesses that sustain jobs and communities.



About the Author

Chef James Diack is the owner of The Brightside Group of restaurants which operates four restaurants in Johannesburg. Brightside Farm, where James was raised, is run by his mother Janet and provides 95% of the produce served at each restaurant. Passionate about seasonality and sustainability, the team is committed to providing a world class experience from nose-to-tail, root-to-leaf, beginning-to-end, that hopes to inspire others to live more conscious and sustainable lives. While each restaurant is slightly different, they are individually driven by a young chef and front of house manager, that have trained with James to deliver simple, beautiful, flavourful food with gracious hospitality in stunning environments.


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