I’ve spent much of July in the UK. In this time I was in Norfolk, the Chilterns, Chester, Scotland and of course London.
Whilst I have never lived nor worked in London, it’s a city that grabs you, and grows on you too.
By far the biggest impression I have is of its diversity, simply the widest range of people from across the planet live there, and this is personified by the eclectic range of food on offer, especially in the independent sector.
Borough Market is in Southwark, on the south side of the river, very close to Tower Bridge. The market is right next to Southwark cathedral which itself is a delight (and with the most wonderful music- recommended!) Borough has been a market for hundreds of years, historically more of a wholesale rather than a retail market.
It’s also notable that the market is registered as a charity, not strictly a commercial venture then. Dig into the charity’s annual report (I couldn’t resist) and Borough market has assets of over £94million and takes in over £6million annually in rents and endowments.
For those in the UK food industry, thriving markets like Borough signpost not only what’s new, but also what’s going to move from niche to mainstream.
I visited Borough market on a busy Sunday in July and took these photos before the crowds rolled in.
Borough market’s recent success is thanks to the growing interest in artisanal foods, a trend which is prevalent in many countries, not just the UK.
Another driver has been the desire amongst foodies, a growing cohort, to engage directly with producers, rather than faceless multinationals.
On top of this cooking has become a TV and social media favourite.
I think it’s fair to say that today Iraqi food is not mainstream in the UK, but what about the future? The Kubba stall sells a variety of fried and braised dumplings in a selection of shapes and textures. The stall is run by British-Iraqi chef Philip Juma who was a finalist at the 2021 BBC Food and Farming Awards.
Think your international food concept will work in the UK? Why not try a test market in Borough Market or similar?