Data Intelligence

Facebook Data says: Add Healthy, Global Cuisine to your Menu

Facebook IQ’s 2019 Topics and Trends Report offers business owners a chance to see topics that mattered to Facebook users during 2018. This allows restaurateurs a glimpse into the future—what food trends are on the rise for the coming year.

One of the findings that people in the industry found interesting was Facebook’s macro currents—topics that crossed over the Food & Drink boundary and ran across several segments which included 6 additional categories: Beauty & Fashion, Commerce, Entertainment, Mind & Body, Science & Technology, and Travel & Leisure. One of these currents was food “has taken on a new life beyond cuisine as people explore the functional benefits of specific ingredients.” In 2014, the global functional foods market generated revenue estimated to be $129 billion. By 2017, that number had grown to over $299 billion and, by 2022, it is expected to rise to over $441 billion.

What’s Trending in Food & Drink

The big takeaway from this statistic and the 2019 report is that individuals are embracing health-conscious, multicultural comfort foods. What does that mean to restaurants? Take your comfort food dishes and add or substitute new ingredients that make them healthier with a touch of global flair.

Soul food received quite a bit of attention on this social media platform as health-conscious eaters look for a way to emulate soul-warming dishes. A few mentions that Facebook IQ reported as popular was replacing traditional pork & beans with jackfruit or smoked turkey, using less brown sugar, and healthy preparations of collard greens that are traditionally prepared with bacon grease.

Restaurants seem to be listening.

Lucie Greene, a leading global trend spotter from Innovation Group at J. Walter Thompson Intelligence, suggested, “For a generation of foodies in search of exotic and regional foods, we’re seeing innovative new chains reimagining dishes, replacing ingredients with vegetable-based alternatives or a healthy spin This movement emerges as people embrace two key trends: well-being and foodie-ism.”

Considering this transformation, it makes sense that both turmeric, a spice known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and kimchi, a mixture of salted and fermented vegetables that improves digestion, boosts immunity, and detoxifies the body, are, conversationally, on the rise.

International foods that showed particular interest included calabaza, a West Indian pumpkin, caldo de pollo, a Mexican chicken soup, and tiropita, a Greek egg-and-cheese dish. Think about global favorites of old-time comfort foods and add them to your menu.

If you’re looking to start some conversations about the food you’re serving, here are some of the top trending topics that restaurants are paying attention to.

Jackfruit

That huge spotted green-brown fruit that you’ve noticed cropping up in grocery stores is known as a jackfruit. Native to India, it is becoming popular in the U.S. as a substitute for meat. It can actually be used in both sweet and savory dishes—when ripe, it’s a little like its fellow tropical fruits, pineapple and mango; unripe, it carries a flavor similar to potatoes.

Several restaurants in the Lone Star State are turning to jackfruit to replace pulled pork. Others, such as Arepa TX, are rubbing the fruit with paprika, cumin and oregano, and stuffing it in to their namesake—an arepa or round corn cake. Bahama Breeze makes some delectable jackfruit tacos that includes jicama-mango slaw. Yum.

Healthy Soul Food

While the terms healthy and soul food don’t really seem to belong in the same sentence, restaurants are finding ways to give their guests what they want—tasty and filling dishes that don’t cause indigestion and shorten one’s lifespan.

One restaurant in Chicago serving up healthy soul food is Soul Vegetarian whose motto is, “Serving Food as Medicine for 30+ years.” Their food is also free of sugars, flours, rice, chemicals and animals.

When considering what defines “healthy soul food,” consider shrimp and grits. One healthy twist that transforms this classic is to make the grits from cauliflower and coconut milk. Typical soul food includes collard and mustard greens, black eyed peas, okra and sweet potatoes—all great components of a healthy diet, as long as they’re not smothered in high-fat gravies and mega-doses of salt.

Turmeric

While turmeric has been in use for nearly 4,000 years, it really didn’t begin its rise to fame in the U.S. until 2004. Seven years later, its use had jumped nearly 70 percent. Even then, restaurants, other than those specializing in curries, were slow to jump on the turmeric bandwagon. According to Nation’s Restaurant News, 2017 saw the presence of this spice on restaurant menus grow by 154 percent. Even Peet’s Coffee has added turmeric to its coffee lineup. You can find it in its turmeric lattes.

While the tried and true has certainly worked for some restaurants that rarely change their menu to jump on the latest foodie craze, others have succeeded by making it a point to listen to what potential and current customers are jabbering about on social media outlets such as Facebook. We’re certain that tomorrow there will be an up-and-coming star that will take the stage away from these current trends. Stay tuned.

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