In order to keep up in the evolving foodservice sector, it’s important to be forward thinking. What will be the next big trend? What flavors are on the rise? What will be the next packaging issue?
Technomic, a Chicago, Illinois-based foodservice industry market intelligence specialist, recently commented on the top flavor trends to keep an eye out for in 2019. Furthermore, Aaron Jourden, senior global research manager, has taken the company’s predictive abilities beyond that level in looking at what’s in store for restaurants on the international front this year.
Consumers’ lifestyles across the world are becoming busier and their needs are more demanding. From functional menu items to eco-friendly packaging, the broader view of foodservice trends has been taken into account, as four key trends will be prominent on restaurant menus, in service strategies and among best practices in 2019.
Plants for the Masses
The plant-based menu philosophy has solidified as a bona fide trend on the global stage, moving rapidly from niche to mainstream in just a few years. While this is playing out in different ways from region to region and country to country, one of the overarching themes that will develop further in 2019 is the democratization of plant-led and plant-only diets. This means less talk of health and ethics and more focus on everyday indulgences such as burgers and pizzas that happen to be free of meat.
Technomic also anticipates a continuation of outsized influence from veganism, the rise of halal-certified meat alternatives, more interest in next-generation dairy substitutes such as oat milk, new emphasis on locally branded and sourced meat analogs, and further use of vegetables in place of carbohydrates.
Functionality is now a key menu draw across the world, and operators are looking to boost the usefulness of their food and drink offerings to cater to contemporary lifestyles. Some of the myriad needs and demands functional food and drink now aim to address range from nutrition, mood improvement and convenience to beauty enhancement, Instagramability and illness prevention. Expect more chains to introduce function-forward menu options in innovative and unexpected ways over the coming year, enhancing everything from tortillas to snacks and pizzas.
Sustainability and delivery are altering the packaging landscape. If there was a “villain” in the global restaurant industry of 2018, it was the single-use plastic straw. Seemingly overnight, chains from the USA, Canada and Colombia to the UK, Australia and Hong Kong took significant steps to reduce the amount of plastic straws offered in their outlets. But that’s just the start of what appears to be a larger shift away from the use of plastics that will continue into 2019 and beyond, creating new demand for alternative packaging, utensils and plate ware to fill the void.
Couple this emerging need with the meteoric rise of delivery across the world – and the various challenges this service has created for operators –and it is perhaps as important of a time as ever for food and drink packaging in the restaurant industry. Eco-friendliness will remain a key part of this trend, but one can also expect to see packaging that is multiuse, tamper-proof, edible, smart and able to withstand the increasingly hurried journey from kitchen to doorstep.
New Stars Emerge
While macro trends tend to get the lion’s share of attention at the global level, many smaller, more regional trends are poised to make an international impact moving into 2019. Expect to cauliflower and hummus gain more space on menus across restaurant segments. Among ethnic cuisines, Mexican is positioned to see continued widespread growth, while the specialties from Southeast Asia are also set to make a more pronounced mark.