Change is one thing you can count on in the foodservice industry, and with the current culture of change, 2018 is predicted to be filled with it. Food and beverage trends are expected to embrace change while building on recent successes and time-tested hits. Keep an eye on these predictions based on research from Andrew Freeman & Company.
Though they may change, comfort foods don’t go out of style. Fried chicken (even in sandwiches) will be embraced by consumers in 2018, while chefs are progressively integrating rotisserie chicken into their offerings. Pizza, from regional favorites to adventuresome international-inspired pies, will remain strong next year. And nostalgic favorites from yesteryear will continue to comfort consumers’ inner youth.
While generally not considered a “comfort” food, vegetarians and vegans will be delighted (comforted?) to see vegetable entrees making their way to menus as alternatives to animal proteins. Grilling, rotisserie, and other creative cooking methods elevate these dishes from the side to the forefront.
Favorites like Mexican and Chinese cuisine will get more varied and unique as chefs go deeper into regional recipes. Meanwhile, Israeli cuisine is predicted to be the darling of 2018, featuring lively and complex flavors. Its more domestic cousin, the Jewish-style delicatessen, will also expand to new U.S. regions, bringing the East Coast favorite to new consumers.
Consumers are increasingly interested in sustainable foods, and 2018 will see a rise in using food waste (or “undesirable” produce) creatively. From using leftover ingredients in new dishes to buying “ugly” fruit and vegetables, restaurants will attract customers who value responsible sourcing.
Despite the appreciation for the “less pretty” sustainable ingredients, consumers will be just as enthusiastic about beautiful presentation, and bright, colorful food with visual interest. Consumers will also look for higher-end yet “budget” experiences, with a growing emphasis on fine-casual dining: still ordering at the counter, but more upscale than quick service (and sometimes even including table service), and featuring unique premium ingredients.
2018 will see several trends in adult beverages—with and without alcohol. House-made juices and sodas will offer a virgin alternative to cocktails, while also often claiming health benefits. “Farm to shaker” cocktails featuring fruit and vegetable trimmings will delight both the sustainable and drinking crowds. Tequila cousin Mezcal will form the base of more cocktails in the new year, and restaurants are capitalizing on barhopping behavior by open next-door wine bars for patrons not looking for a full sit-down meal.
Then, for the next morning, new favorite cold brew coffee will kick it up to version 2.0, adding traditional (like hazelnut) and edgy (like lavender) flavors.
Staying Ahead for Success
While it’s often daunting to stay ahead of food and beverage trends, the most adaptable restaurants, bars, hotels, and purveyors are the establishments that keep demanding customers coming back for more. Are you ready for what’s coming in the new year?
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