With every new year, there's a renewed desire for businesses to get ahead of the pack. To do so, it's beneficial for owners and operators to stay on top of upcoming trends. For restaurants, this is an important strategy for menu changes and business restructuring. Hospitality consultants from Baum+Whiteman have identified “11 Hottest Food and Beverage Trends in Restaurant and Hotel Dining for 2018”. Below, we've shared some of their biggest insights as we head into the new year.
1. Plant-Based Food Goes Mainstream
Plant-based food is being cited as the new healthy food choice, replacing the organic food trend. Research has shown that consumers are switching over to plant-based foods and beginning to decrease their consumption of red meat. Alternative sources of protein and dairy-free options are also becoming popular. Expect to see trends like vegan ice cream, non-dairy cheese, and faux-meat options. Additionally, there is a growing interest in lab-grown food as an alternate source of protein.
2. Three Ethnic Cuisines
Filipino cuisine is having a moment in the spotlight, as consumers' palates grow more adventurous. Filipino communities are expanding in the US, bringing more restaurants that boast unique and bold flavors. Indian food is entering into new terrain as well, with more Indian-fusion startups and fast-casual dining options. Korean food (which exploded onto the restaurant scene recently) is advancing into a new phase of refinement. Moving away from the boisterous world of Korean BBQ, Korean restaurants are starting to enter the fine dining industry.
3. New and Creative Ideas for Avocado
The avocado toast trend is slowly moving out of style, but demand for avocado continues to drive restaurants to find new and creative ways of serving this fruit. One major trend is upping the presentation of the avocado, with fanned-out avocado slices (or nests) replacing the standard mash.
4. Technological Advances in the Restaurant World
Ordering, delivery, and reservations are becoming easier, thanks to new advances in technology. For example, ordering can now be done with voice-command products. Meanwhile, large delivery companies are buying up small companies, making delivery options more widely available throughout cities.
5. Going Cashless
Cashless options are going to become significantly more popular in the new year. One major benefit of cashless is that drawers are automatically counted and balanced at the end of worker shifts. Furthermore, cashless options make for faster transactions, so more customers can be served in less time. This will shorten lines and wait times across the industry.
6. Flavor Injectors
Flavor injectors are a type of interactive dining experience that allow diners to customize their plate in a fun way. These powerful boosts of sauce or juice are literally injected into food by the consumer.
7. Innovative Fast-Casual
Fast-casual restaurants are finding new ways to give customers faster, high-quality ingredients. Ordering kiosks and updated drive-thru facilities will help streamline service at fast-casual restaurants. Additionally, fast-casual restaurants are upping their decor and in-house customer service to create a more upscale feel. They will be adding alcoholic beverage options, as well as bringing food on real plates for those who choose to dine in.
8. Specialty Shops and Unconventional Foods
As the food industry experiences higher stocks and an increased interest in eccentric offerings, people are beginning to invest in riskier stores that offer specialty foods. Often, these stores offer a new or unconventional take on a single ingredient. For example, XO Marshmallow Cafe in Chicago sells a variety of marshmallow items based on s’mores, lattes, and affogatos.
9. “Dry” Ramen
The ramen craze is evolving into a new type of “dry” dish. This ramen variant keeps the familiar chewy noodles, but eliminates the soup. Instead, the noodles are lightly dressed with a bright, thickly flavored sauce. The noodles are then topped with a variety of unconventional ingredients, such as bacon and eggs, cured salmon and camembert, or chili oil and tahini.
10. Facial Recognition for Ordering
Facial recognition software, which was just added to the latest iteration of iPhones, may make an appearance in restaurant technology soon. A few companies have already started to make sure of this new system. The software scans your face and syncs it with consumer data, such as ordering preferences and frequency of visits. However, there are still some issues that need to be addressed around this technology, such as ethical concerns about gathering information from customers.
11. Alcoholic Desserts
Finally, restaurants are making boozy desserts and ice cream for the coming year. Even big companies are joining in this trend. For example, Taco Bell is expected to open cantinas, which will be serving spiked slushies.
Feel inspired to incorporate these trends into your menu in the new year? We have a full line of commercial kitchen equipment designed to meet your operation’s needs.