Just like the fashion world, the foodservice industry moves quickly from trend to trend. One minute it’s quinoa, the next it’s avocado toast. It can be difficult to stay on top of the latest food trends, especially when you’re not sure if they’re here to stay, or simply a flash in the pan.
In this deep dive, we’ve shared 10 of our predictions for 2020’s latest and greatest food trends. 2019 is nearly over, but next year will bring a whole batch of new products, ingredients, and culinary experiences. We hope this handy guide will help your foodservice business stay ahead of the curve.
1. CBD Infused Food and Drink
Recently, the American Culinary Federation and National Restaurant Association surveyed 650 pro chefs about top trends for 2019. A majority of those surveyed said that CBD-infused food would be a phenomenon. Even though we’re still a ways away from CBD and cannabis being a commonplace ingredient in restaurants, plenty of packaged foods and drinks feature CBD (short for cannabidiol) today. You’ll also find coffee shops and bars serving drinks (mostly mocktails) with CBD as an optional mixer. Stand out from the crowd by showcasing your CBD drinks with some novelty glassware and unconventional flavors. CBD is only going to get more popular as the federal laws ease up in the coming years.
2. Plant-based Foods
The natural foods craze is poised to get even bigger in 2020, with consumers becoming more conscious of the food they eat. Shoppers are buying more organic products, rejecting foods that contain additives, and adopting a more plant-based diet overall. Impossible “meat” and Beyond “meat” are so popular now that you can find them at the biggest fast food chains. Meanwhile, seaweed-based foods are also taking new forms, with products like kelp jerky and seaweed butter hitting supermarket shelves. The plant-based lifestyle is spreading to every type of food offering, from fast snacks to fine dining.
In 2020, “hyperlocal” is going to reach a much larger audience. Essentially, the term refers to ingredients that are grown and harvested by the restaurant. They might have a small garden, brew their own kombucha, and make their own kimchi onsite. The concept is getting more popular because diners want to know where their food is coming from, and they like how eco-friendly a vertically integrated business is. Instead of supporting a massive agribusiness with factory farms in foreign countries, you can feel good knowing that a hyperlocal dish comes from your community and reflects the seasons. It might seem like a serious limitation for a restaurant, but the hyperlocal concept can inspire tremendous creativity as well.
4. Artisan / Small Batch
Similar to the hyperlocal trend, artisanal and small-batch products are all about quality. Typically made by small foodservice businesses in a community, these premium beers, coffee beans, and charcuterie are made in limited quantities with a homegrown feel.
“Artisanal” feels like a broad term, but the School of Artisan Food in the U.K. defines it as food made with non-industrialized processes. These techniques have often been handed down for hundreds of years, becoming more refined over time. Whether you’re a small craft brewery or a healthy snack company, consumers love the small-batch artisanal approach and will happily spend more money to enjoy premium products.
5. Eater-tainment: Interactive Dining Experiences
Eating out isn’t just about the food and ambiance anymore. The entire experience is being crafted to surprise and delight diners, with interactive moments that immerse people in another world. Restaurants want to set themselves apart, so they’re looking for fun and entertaining concepts that will get customers in the door. Theatrical performances, movie-themed dishes, and conceptual dining experiences (i.e. dining in the dark) are going to get bolder in 2020.
6. Year of the Food Hall
Like a modern update to the mall food court, food halls showcase a wide variety of curated cuisines, with an emphasis on quality and presentation. It seems like every major city on Earth has a food hall now, with trendy restaurants in stalls that you can hop between. It’s a great option for tourists who want to sample what a city has to offer, without driving all over town. Plenty of new food halls are in development for 2020, and it seems like the hip dining concept is finally getting its moment in the spotlight.
7. Eco Friendly / Green Mentality
Studies about our changing climate are mobilizing people to adopt more eco-friendly habits, and many companies are taking note. Plastic-free packaging is becoming mandatory for many consumers, as well as sustainable sourcing, cruelty-free farming, and biodegradable products. Instead of plastic, companies are turning to recycled paper, corn starch, beeswax, and glass. This green mentality is going to spread to every facet of the foodservice industry, and this is just the beginning.
8. Zero-Waste Cooking
The eco-friendly trend goes hand in hand with zero-waste cooking, an approach that utilizes food scraps and leftovers, rather than tossing them out. For instance, a chef might use bones and scraps of meat in a soup, or take coffee grounds and bake cookies with them. We know how wasteful the food industry is today, so a movement that reduces or eliminates food waste is going to generate a lot of attention.
9. More Convenient Options
Meal delivery apps like Postmates and Caviar have gotten more popular, and they’re expected to grow another 15% in 2020. Foodservice business have realized that they can satisfy an entire market for late-night delivery cravings, without spending the money for a brick-and-mortar restaurant. More delivery-specific menus will be popping up all over the country next year, and grocery delivery services will also reach a larger audience. In the smartphone era, convenience is king.
10. Globally Inspired and Hyper Regional Flavors
Finally, curiosity about regional dishes is reaching a new high. Unique flavors from Western Africa, Mexico, Central America, and Portugal are finally getting a chance to shine. At the same time, “global” dishes are becoming more trendy as well. These dishes focus on taste and rely on ingredients from all over the world. In our globally connected world, it’s a great time to be a foodie.
Ready to take advantage of 2020’s biggest food trends and innovations? At Chefs’ Toys, we’re dedicated to providing high-quality equipment for the entire foodservice industry. Stay ahead of the curve with our innovative kitchen solutions.