Easter Food Trends 2024: Three innovation thought-starters for UK product development

Stemming from 2024 food trend movements, Egg Soldiers identifies three potential hotspots to consider for NPD teams looking ahead to Easter 2025
A close up of sliced roast lamb for Easter lunch
From shiny hot cross buns and chocolate eggs of all sizes, to roast lamb Sunday lunches with all the trimmings; Easter is a short-but-decadent stint for foodies, with chefs and retailers once again set to battle for attention with seasonal showstoppers.

Easter is, more often than not, a family occasion, with those aforementioned eggs with their myriad gifting opportunities foundational to the season. Indeed, Easter weekend features the first UK bank holidays of 2024 - a prime reason for groups to come together and reconnect after Christmas.

And while the ongoing cost-of-living crisis will surely restrict purse strings over the holiday, food and drink will again play a lead role for many, both in and out of home.

From a development perspective, Easter 2024 is very much done (for the vast majority), with UK food teams preparing for briefings on Easter 2025 in the next few months.

Here at Insights Lab by Egg Soldiers, we pride ourselves on our ability to work years ahead of the game, with our team of insight specialists constantly identifying and translating opportunities for brands both big and small.

This month, we're sharing three thought-starters for early stage Easter ideation, with the team spotlighting an opportunity with the staple Easter food favourite, lamb, and discussing a number of lesser-known global sweet and savoury options becoming ripe for harnessing as limited-edition leads in the near future.

1
Smaller, For The Love Of Lamb
Chicken fried lamb chops, cranberry BBQ sauce (Image: @whytesrestaurant)
Spring lamb falls perfectly with Easter, with the beautifully deliciously rich food option synonymous with the season.

As such, Sunday lunches often enjoy upgrades for the holiday. Roasted lamb racks, legs or shoulders, commonly studded with the likes of rosemary and garlic, served with vibrant mint sauce - it's a sure fire showstopper.

Now, we're well aware of lamb prices. They don't come cheap, hence their usual centrepiece spots on menus (and usually higher cost for the customer).

That said, we've spotted a number of interesting lamb-centric creations away from the normal Sunday roast show-piece positioning.

And considering the age-old Easter-lamb axis, and natural increase in interest around the season; there could be opportunity with smaller-sized lamb dishes, utilising more of the animal, and priced more affordably for those keeping an eye on finances compared to, say, a full-blown rack of lamb.

For example, take Acme Fire Cult's lamb fat toast - a super-sounding option that taps wider fat-fuelled flavour trends. Then there's Durham restaurant Faru, which included gem lettuce cooked with lamb fat as part of a lamb rump dish last year (how's that for a side dish), with lamb lardo also part of the ensemble.

Firebird in London's Soho offers lamb skewers with rocket pesto and cime di rapa; Battersea spot Ploussard's lamb and anchovy muffin is a sight to behold; and Whyte Rushen's new permanent spot in Hackney spotlights his signature chicken-fried lamb chops and cranberry bbq sauce (we can't wait to go).
Christmas 2023:
UK Restaurant Menu Trends
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What to expect:

  • Discover the key formats, cuisines, ingredients, styles and flavour combinations being harnessed by UK chefs for 2023 festive offerings beyond the norm
  • Explore 10 comprehensive topics featuring over 100 festive dish examples (with clickable links), from snacks and starters through to desserts and cocktails
  • Gain a thorough understanding of new and existing festive food trend trajectories
  • Absorb targeted recommendations from our trend specialists for 2024/25 Christmas NPD and menu development

What's included:

  • A 25-page, fully-linked PDF report

Available on request:

  • A 17-page PowerPoint presentation
  • A 15-minute video walkthrough

2
Searching For Savoury
Pizza Rustica (Image: Delish.com)
Easter is far from a UK-only period. From the 'Semana Santa' (Holy Week) in Spain and the 'Viernes Santo' (Holy Friday) in Argentina, to myriad Greek orthodox traditions and the Pope-led celebrations in Italy; the religious holiday is observed in a great many places across the world.

And the vast majority have Easter-centric food and drink traditions, some of which stood out to us during our analysis as potential considerations for future UK development, with global food influences and inspiration ever-increasing in popularity.

Take Pizza Rustica (or Pizza di Pasqua), for example. A traditional Italian Easter pie, Pizza Rustica has a flaky and buttery pie crust and is filled with eggs, ricotta, cured meats, and other cheeses.

A quiche-meets-pie creation, such an option could make for a superb Easter launch, appealing to consumers looking out for an affordable addition for at-home, picnic-style lunches.

Then there's Chiles Rellenos, a traditional Mexican dish of poblano peppers stuffed with cheese, meat or vegetables that's often enjoyed during Easter. The peppers (which are only mildly spicy) are deep-fried in egg batter and usually served with a tomato sauce.

Lose the meat, and you have yourself a vegetarian Easter special.

Finally, if we look to Spanish Easter food traditions, the salt cod spread, Ajobacalao, might be a consideration for future Easter introductions. The Malaga-born dish is made with olive oil, garlic, salted cod, chilli, lemon juice and cayenne pepper, served traditionally with crusty bread.

Spain is right at the forefront of the 'gourmet' tinned fish movement in the UK, led by the likes of Ortiz, with increasing consumer interest in this space potentially opening the door for the likes of Ajobacalao and other salty fish dips and spreads to make their mark over the coming years (and not just during Easter).

3
Sweet, Sweet Sicily
Cassata Al Forno (Image: Sicilianfoodculture.com)
When it comes to Easter sweet treats in the UK, it would take a brave developer to attempt to oust the ubiquitous chocolate egg for popularity.

We know better, and so for inspiration, we've looked further afield, over on the beautiful Italian island of Sicily in the Mediterranean.

The word 'Sicilian' is a common sight on the UK food market, particularly during summer and the cross-category spotlighting of Sicilian lemons.

Sainsbury's Sicilian lemon ice cream was one to join the fray last year, with Sicilian Citrus Pesto the subject of one of our recent Insight Snapshots.

Beyond the lemon, Starbucks continues to roll out its Sicilian olive oil-driven 'Oleato' range; the traditional Sicilian pizza, Sfincione, continues to catch the eye; Sicilian almonds and pistachios remain widely sought after; and gourmet ice cream chain Amorino continues to push its brioche con gelato (known in-store as 'Sicilian').

Suffice it to say that 'Sicilian' is a safe bet for food and drink launches in the UK. But does the island hold any Easter sweet treasures to take inspiration from?

How about the Sicilian Cassata Al Forno? A stunning baked pie filled with a ricotta cheese cream studded with chocolate chips; the dessert is an Easter sweet staple, particularly in the capital of Palermo.

Then there's the Sicilian Cassatelle di Agira - sweet pastries stuffed with cocoa, cinnamon, lemon and orange zest, and almonds, baked in the oven until crisp and golden.

Finally, we want to quickly highlight Sicilian Cuddura, namely a traditional sweet cookie with a whole hard-boiled egg encased in the centre, with the design reminiscent of a basket.

Instead of taking on the chocolate egg directly next Easter, why not consider edible baskets/holders for them, taking the Cuddura as inspiration and switching out the boiled egg?

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