2019 has been fun. We saw the rise of veggie entrees, oat milk, boba tea and new allergy-free foods (1). We saw the growth of veganism, and the amount of sensation the Impossible Burger has generated around plant-based eating. But what comes afterwards? What new food trend would the new year bring? We’re pitching our predictions into the web-verse. Here they are.
It’s a health-conscious world and people now place just as much importance in healthy foods as they do in exercise and other healthy lifestyles2. Veggies are being incorporated into the menu in creative ways (think jackfruit pulled “pork”, veggie rice and pasta), vegan entrees and sandwiches will keep rolling and “gut-friendly” fermented foods such as kimchi and kombucha are making its way into more restaurant menus3. The faux meat craze is just beginning, with chains such as KFC, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Dominos and McDonalds incorporating Impossible Burgers and Beyond Meats into their menus4. Additionally, we expect smaller servings and snack-size portions to become more widespread, as more people turn to read the nutrition labels to see not just the calories they are consuming, but also its carb, protein, saturated fat and sodium content5.
Colorful? Big? Over the top? Unique? Photogenic foods have done well and we expect it will continue to do so in 2020 – all thanks to Instagram6. The big and crazy are back, and you’ll be seeing more fried chickens in a Bloody Mary, gigantic shakes and volcano drinks return to restaurants. It’s no coincidence that some of the most trending hashtags on Instagram are #foodporn and #instafood. The popularity of digitally shareable foods is also helping to introduce diverse cuisines into the industry, and fueling the widespread interest of international concepts like Japanese, Lebanese and Mexican cuisines7.
More people are valuing how the food is produced, obtained and packaged. Transparency has also become an important factor, and behind customer awareness of what constitutes a sustainably produced food8. We expect that the demand for local, organic, ugly (imperfect) produce and sustainable seafood will continue to grow in 2020. A recent Nielsen study reported how sustainable products had an 20% increase in sales since 20149. Zero waste has become a buzzworthy term, with restaurants being encouraged to be the vanguard of recycling and to take part of an initiative that is sure to resonate with today’s customers10. Some QSRs are already experimenting, with Starbucks using strawless cups, Pizza hut with round boxes and Dig testing reusable takeout bowls.
There’s no doubt that people will pay for a one-of-a-kind experience11. When restaurants embrace the task of creating unique, fun and personal memories, their customers return—and often with more friends. One way QSRs have done this in 2019 is offering limited time offers. LTOs can be a new flavor or a simple addition—for example, think Starbuck’s seasonal frappe or KFC’s faux chicken nuggets that was sold out in just 5 hours4. Customization is also good, and we’ve seen a fair number of quick serves introducing customized dishes to give their guests more control over what they eat11. What will most definitely continue to drive sales and build customer base is marketing via social media. Creating visibly exciting content through Instagram, for example, helps to increase awareness about your restaurant and generate engagement. It’s a chance for the business to interact with your customers outside of your restaurant and perhaps one of the easiest ways to determine what’s currently trending.
Convenience is key. The Nielson study reported more people looking for new ways to get things done faster, easier and through a combination of on and offline channels9. Sam Fox, Founder of Fox Restaurant Concepts mentioned how, “Technology helps with speed of service, whether it’s using an app or mobile pay, or looking up calories posted. The more knowledge we can give to guests ahead of time, the more it can help with throughput.”8. Delivery will continue to grow as off-premise eating is becoming more favorable to onsite eating12.
Do we need to say more? People are now craving the hottest and spiciest. Nashville’s “spiciest hot chicken” was a viral sensation on social media13; Popeye’s will be returning their spicy chicken sandwich back on their menu. Also, look for unique and non-traditional flavors in 2020. We’re talking sumac, za’atar, Aleppo pepper, nduja, black sesame, chimichurri, guajillo, achiote, furikake and XO sauce 14.
It’s an exciting time to be in the industry. Technology is changing the way we eat and the momentum for new and innovative foods will challenge how restaurants make of these new opportunities to revamp their business. Nevertheless, consistency, value and quality still play a crucial role in building a successful business15. The fundamentals still are what they’ve always been and it’s the balancing of the new with the familiar that keep your customers coming back.
Now on with 2020.
We hope that helps carry you into 2020 with a wealth of knowledge. If you caught the hidden message, you win the “Thinker’s Award” for 2019 and are poised for success in 2020.
Menu development and understanding market trends are two areas that Goliath Consulting Group assists independent and chain operators. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about our services and how we can get you the results you are looking to achieve.