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Restaurant Trends to Serve Up in 2020

Demands for health and flavor innovation will drive trends in the foodservice industry next year, according to Technomic‘s predictions.

Cooler colors, such as greens, will begin to take off. Plates will be full of new rabes and cresses, as well as new lettuces like celtuce, kale hybrids and komatsuna. Additionally, blues will make an appearance through spirulina and butterfly peas, while purple variations of veggies such as corn, broccoli and snap peas will also take the stage.

Fads won’t be going away in 2020 and operators will jump on them even quicker. In 2019, restaurants adopted crazes like CBD/cannabis, oat milk, keto-friendly foods and chicken sandwich wars. Next year, Technomic predicts fare such as Asian cheese tea, edible insects and more CBD, as well as “mouth magic” ingredients that elicit sensory reactions such as sweet lines and mouth-tingling Sichuan buds.

Sustainability became more than just a fad in 2019 as some restaurants and consumers moved away from single-use items towards more eco-conscious alternatives. Upcoming efforts will call for more reusable cup programs, portion controlling dispensers, strawless lids, smaller napkins and wood-fiber utensils.

One bar in New York City is already a step ahead. Rhodora Wine Bar recently became the first zero-waste wine bar in the country by only using products that can be recycled, upcycled or composted, reported Eater (Sept. 27).

Another key trend will be locking into lifestages, particularly of Millennials. Within the next six years 80% of Millennials will be parents. Menu innovation and pricing thresholds may become more important to younger Gen Z consumers. Foodservice companies will have to quicky develop a strategic voice to reach specific subgroups of each generation.

Meanwhile, as guest traffic lags, at-home delivery is booming so businesses must employ more creative means of enticing people to the stores. Offers such as BOGO meals, loyalty/subscription-based rewards and limited time offers will be necessary.

Off-premise occasions will continue to flourish as Technomic research shows 78% of operators consider off-premise sales to be a strategic priority. However, the battle for traffic will bring on a slew of counteractive efforts by operators.