November 27, 2017 5:10 pm

Food theme parks, crickets on toast and the death of the rock star chef? All are on the menu for 2018.

Yes, its that time of year again. As 2017 draws to an end, the team at Brain & Poulter cast one eye on the future to predict the top 5 trends that will drive food retailing in 2018.


Eataly World, a 100,000 sqm Italian gastro park outside Bologna, opened last week. The $100 million development is a giant showcase for Italian fare, with 47 restaurants, a 9,000 sqm farmers market and 40 areas for food production. The park’s creator, Oscar Farinetta, who owns global Italian marketplace Eataly, expects to attract six million visitors a year – half of them from outside Italy.

We are talking about 100,000 sqm of space being chewed up by food and beverage – that’s a whole major regional sized shopping centre just devoted to food.

Meanwhile, SoHo farmhouse, a 100-acre club and event-based tourism experience outside London continues the theme, featuring accommodation, restaurants, gardening, education, homestyling and events.

Soho Farmhouse

Soho Farmhouse. Image by:

These two examples are the tip of the iceberg. These are immersive food experiences, and the implications for property are wide-reaching. Experiential food and beverage offerings are no longer limited to the city.


The rise of UberEATS and Deliveroo will encourage restauranteurs to set up “dark kitchens” to deal with home delivery.

Delivery companies are already setting up multi-kitchen sites that are leased out to meet home delivery demand. This presents new opportunities for low-grade retail space and basements to be repurposed.

As chef-quality food can now be ordered in, diners don’t need to leave the comfort of their own homes.

Now that you can eat the food of your favourite chef at home, the restaurant experience must be about much more than just the chef. Eating out will become more of an experience.

Tenancies will get larger, fitouts more expensive and rents established as base plus percentage to manage the risk.

Examples of “experience eating” can be seen at the Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery and The Grounds of Alexandria, with its café, bakery, retailing and gardens in an old Sydney pie factory.


The Grounds Alexandria will be keeping the kids busy this Christmas with cupcake and gingerbread making classes – it’s all about the experience! Image source:

To create experience dining, you need 10 reasons other than food to attract people to the restaurant. Think education, hands-on experience, sustainability, growing, tasting, listening, learning, participating, music and entertainment.


Smashed avo with crunchy crickets anyone?

Veganism is the fastest rising meal preference among millennials. Meat alternatives are being constructed to model the texture, colour and juiciness of animal protein. Take the Impossible Burger for example – tell me that doesn’t look like a nice big juicy beef patty!

The United Nations has been promoting insects as the “meat of the future”. Here at Brain & Poulter we’ve dubbed this “wing-to-sting” eating.

The thought of munching on a creepy crawly may not align to the western palate but Chefs at the top level are already featuring roasted crickets and mealworms, dehydrated earthworms and green tree ants on their menus. The gastronomists at Noma and the likes of Kylie Kwong in Australia are good examples.

Outside of gastro circles, how fast will this food trend become the norm? Expect to see crickets at the McDonald’s near you in the next couple of years.


Sustainability continues to drive transformation in food and beverage retailing.

At the property owners’ level, it’s no longer about a Green Star rating. It’s about making sure that every activity within retail – particularly in food and beverage where there is an enormous amount of waste – is sustainable.

Think composting fields, pickling and preserves, rooftop gardens and recycled materials. It’s about the whole lifecycle. Also expect to see a lot more nose-to-tail and root-to-tip eating.


Silo, Brighton UK. A zero-waste restaurant with a clearly publicised mission. Even the furniture is upcycled. Image source:

And this trend is consumer-led, as people demand to know where their spent coffee grounds go, where the outer leaves of the lettuce end up, what happens to the rind of the watermelon. They want to see this waste used in a way that benefits the earth and our communities.

Landlords will need to consider how they tackle the zero waste trend in everything from how they procure tenants to the design of fitouts, to the use of rooftops and creation of green walls.


Rock star chefs have had their day as large multi-operational restaurant groups take over as the must-have tenancies.

Until recently, only two percent of all restaurants in Australia had more than three outlets. But we are seeing a big shift, which makes it easier for landlords to strike a deal with a much larger company.

Last year, celebrity chef Neil Perry merged his Rockpool Group with private equity-backed Urban Purveyor Group to build a larger portfolio of restaurants. Rockpool Dining Group now has 60 restaurants and 16 brands.

While bespoke artisan fine dining may be on the wane, so too is the polar opposite – that is mediocre, unbranded fast food dining in a homogenised space.

Food and beverage will change at both ends, and the middle of the market will be replaced with large-format and experience based dining.

Brain & Poulter’s message is clear. Vanilla will no longer cut it. You must have 10 reasons for people to come to eat that don’t involve eating. The landlords that understand this are those that will flourish in 2018.

FREE Food Trends Presentation Available

B&P has a special 45-minute trends package ready to present free of charge to our clients across the first quarter of 2018 expanding on these top food retail trends. Perfect for your next team/group meeting, we’ll go deeper into our specialised research and highlight the trends set to impact F&B retail in the next 12-18 months. This offer is limited to the first 5 bookings and groups of 20+.

Book us in NOW or call (02)8231 5799 before we get booked out.