February 15, 2019
When it comes to foodservice trends for 2019, predictions run the gamut from new flavors to multimedia sensory thrills and beyond. Not to mention, with new technology delivering more convenient options that are less dependent on human intermediaries, 2019 is shaping up to be a year in which consumers will demand more from their experiences and from the companies responsible for harvesting, preparing and serving their food.
Take a look at the top five foodservice trends for 2019.
1. Consumers that want multimedia-worthy dishes
With new social media features rolling out – like Instagram TV (IGTV) – and popular video favorites like Snapchat, foodservice operators are aiming to keep up by serving up more elaborate, sensory-satiating dishes. Think: dishes with popping candies, color-changing cocktails, glittering beers and anything else that delivers sensory thrills beyond just a snapshot. With the constant, breathless pace of social media evolution, foodservice operators are expected to continue adapting their menus in funky, fresh ways.
2. Functional foods and all-natural enhancers
This year, consumers will be looking for even more ingredients that have a positive impact on their wellbeing. The first wave of the functional foods trend has already swept over the industry, with operators touting ingredients containing antioxidants, vitamins and more in the foods they are selling. In this second wave that is predicted to hit in 2019, look for a continued emphasis on all-natural ingredients that enhance body functions like brain health, beauty and mental health. Also, look for innovative uses of ingredients like collagen for beauty, cannabis to promote relaxation and karkade to help de-stress.
3. Eats from the Middle East (Levant cuisines)
With increasing interest in Israeli food over recent years, experts now say to look for higher consumer demand for Levantine cuisines, including specialty dishes from Lebanon, Syria and Turkey that feature sauces such as s’chug, pomegranate molasses, toum, labneh and tahini, and include ingredients such as urfa, lavash and even schmaltz.
Bonus: Get ahead of the curve by keeping your eyes peeled for an increase in popularity of dishes from the Balkans.
4. Where’s the beef: extreme edition
More and more consumers want vegetable-based foods that are driven by environmental and animal welfare. Beyond just plant-based dining, 2019 looks to bring dining trends centered on zero-wasted policies and sustainability. Already, we have seen a push among many restaurants to ban plastic straws and shift to plant-based, eco-friendly food packaging. In fact, according to Foodservice Director, some companies have made the move to ban meat consumption onsite and incentivize employees not to order meat when they dine out.
5. Transparency from vendors
Today’s consumers increasingly want food that’s sustainable, ethical and environmentally-conscious. While past consumers may have only demanded transparency into certain aspects of their food, tomorrow’s diners will want a more well-rounded transparency message. This means that buyers – in addition to information about clean eating best practices – will demand more transparency from companies into everything from pricing to corporate performance, diversity, fair trade, living wages and executive compensation, sustainability and animal welfare.
Looking forward: A more tech-driven foodservice experience
Nearly 60 percent of meals produced by foodservice operators are consumed offsite, and the trend toward convenient options for ordering, receiving and consuming food outside of traditional restaurant venues is expected to grow.
In a world where game-changers like Amazon Go are driving consumers to a more frictionless “grab-and-go” experience, the question on the minds of many foodservice pros is: What lasting impact will this new technology have on customer experiences and person-to-person interaction?
After all, the human faces of many of these businesses are what differentiate brands from one another, leaving many to wonder if brands will suffer in a landscape where humans may no longer be the primary communicator of their identities.
The implications for this will play out for years to come through smaller restaurant footprints, technology-driven solutions and other strategies to meet the increasing push toward on-demand everything.
Bonus: Restaurant pricing strategies (food for thought)
While emerging generations like millennials and Gen Z are certainly among the busiest demographics, their approach to restaurant dining is frugal. Having learned some valuable lessons coming out of the last recession, much of their financial focus has to do with paying down student debt. However, trends have shown they look to balance this with their desire to eat out as much as possible – often with the help of coupons, incentives or other ways of getting discounts when they eat out. But with such a favorable response from these age groups to Netflix-style subscriptions, could a subscription-based approach be on the horizon in some capacity for restaurants? Possibly. But for now, it seems like good old-fashioned credit cards and cash will remain dominant.
Like technology, foodservice continues to evolve at a rapid rate. And while not all of the trends above may pan out exactly the same way in every market, the vast majority of them are global and can be found around the world.