Egg shortages and fusion offerings: Here are the top food stories for 2023

Naan tacos are part of the fusion food revolution that increased in popularity this year. Image: Instagram.

Naan tacos are part of the fusion food revolution that increased in popularity this year. Image: Instagram.

Published Dec 14, 2023


The world of food is constantly evolving, as new trends emerge and new ingredients are placed in the spotlight.

But 2023 has also seen a shortage of basic food items, forcing consumers, as well as the industry as whole, to adapt in an unpredictable and constantly changing market.

But this hasn't stopped the dynamic and adaptable sector from finding food innovations.

To highlight all of this, we have unpacked the biggest South African food stories for 2023.

This year saw an outbreak of a bird flu which resulted in egg and poultry shortages. l FILE.

Egg and poultry meat shortage

These two food items are a staple in many South African households, while also being a vital part of restaurants and the hospitality industry at large.

And while experts believe that the egg and poultry shortages, which the nation experienced over the past few months, is currently under control, many had to go without it for an extended period of time.

And when these food items were available, their prices sky-rocketed due the high demand and low supply.

The shortages came as the country battled an outbreak of a high-pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), a bird flu which spreads rapidly in an infected flock causing a high death rate, since April.

The South African Poultry Association explained that caused about six million egg layers. Some 2.5 million breeder chickens, nearly a third of the national flock, had to be culled.

This resulted in fear that these shortages would extend into the festive season, but the Department of Agriculture said in November that they had facilitated increased imports of eggs, fertilised eggs, egg powder and liquid eggs to ease shortages.

"The department is happy that the HPAI outbreak is under control and that 70% of farms that were not infected continue to produce eggs and chickens," the department said, adding that "egg stock levels are replenishing steadily".

An increasing number of South Africans are looking to consume a healthier diet. l FILE

The continued rise of health foods and beverages

This is a trend that gained momentum during the Covid-19 pandemic, and continued in 2023.

It sees health and welfare being prioritised like never before, leading to an increasing number of South Africans seeking to follow a healthier and more balanced diet.

And apart from fruits and vegetables, super foods such as nuts, seeds and fish, are growing in prominence as they are being incorporated into foods and drinks in several ways.

Meanwhile, restaurants and the hospitality industry are also increasingly providing more health conscious meals to their consumers.

In addition, a growing number of people are becoming aware of ultra-processed foods and are seeking alternatives.

This is also the case with meat products, as more and more people are looking to implement more vegan-based meals to their diet.

The effects of alcohol are also gaining attention, and has led to the rise of drinks such as mocktails, lower strength alcoholic drinks, and in some cases, even abstaining from booze completely.

When it comes to beverages, sugar contents are also being placed in the spotlight, with the government’s sugar tax already in place, as well as eateries encouraging their customers to consume drinks with less sugar, by charging more for beverages which have a higher sugar content.

Fusion food

The constant and explosive nature of the digital sphere has led to a more connected world, where cultures and cuisines are more accessible to those on opposite sides of the globe.

You can be in South Africa and enjoy the finest Asian meals, thanks to the import of ingredients and international delivery services.

This globalisation has also allowed for more creativity as consumers, restaurants and the hospitality industry can now experiment with food and drinks like never before.

Naan tacos, rooibos boba tea, Asian egg crepes and Mexican lasagna are just some of the fusion options that have entered the mainstream world.

‘Carrington Cookies’ are part of South Africa’s simplified baking revolution. l SUPPLIED

Simplified baking

The baking industry is booming and at-home bakers are reaping the benefits as it has never been easier or more enjoyable to elevate treats and not have to bake from scratch.

This year saw an increasing number of retailers offering much more simplified baking kits.

These easy to make, bake and assemble treats for desserts such as cinnamon rolls, cupcakes, brownies and flapjacks, are also interactive and a great way for loved ones to bond through time in the kitchen.

Meanwhile, businesses like Joburg’s “Carrington Cookies” have also this year started selling innovative freezer-to-oven cookies.

These are already shaped, perfectly portioned, frozen cookie dough that’s baked and ready to serve within 15 minutes.

“It promises to deliver both taste and convenience,” founder of “Carrington Cookies”, Ayesha Essop explained.

Research has found that pasta had mood-enhancing benefits. l FILE

Pasta’s happiness boosting properties

This year certified that pasta is not just a beloved and delicious comfort food, but it has also been proven to boost happiness.

A study conducted by the “Behaviour & Brain Lab” at the Free University of Languages and Communication IULM, in collaboration with Unione Italiana Food, a leading Italian association for direct representation of food products, found that consuming pasta triggers “a powerful and lasting positive emotional-cognitive state”.

For this study, researchers analysed consumption habits. It found that individuals associated pasta consumption with happiness, family sharing, and friendship.

It also appears that the make-up of pasta could also be a reason for enhancing moods.

This is largely attributed to the presence of tryptophan, which is known for its mood regulation properties, as well as B vitamins, which aid muscle relaxation and serotonin production. Both are found within the pasta itself.

Meanwhile, the carbohydrates in pasta, particularly complex ones, have also been proven to stimulate endorphins.

And while pasta is one of the most beloved dishes across the globe, this is the first time that scientific research has delved into the emotions it elicits.