From shared kitchens to robot chefs, it seems like the restaurant industry is changing quicker than we can comprehend. As 2020 approaches, restaurant owners will be monitoring these trends to see how they can improve their business before they’re left in the dust.
Here are a few trends that emerged in 2019 that are sure to play a role in shaping the industry in the future.
Consumers Want Healthy Menu Options
Gluten Free. Keto. Paleo. Vegetarian Vegan. Consumers are increasingly demanding that their favorite restaurants offer healthy menu options that align with their personal definition of health.
According to L.E.K Consulting’s 2018 food and beverage survey, 93 percent of diners want to eat healthy at least some of the time while 63 percent are trying to eat health most or all of the time.
Restaurant owners need to understand that this definition of “healthy” is constantly changing. This forces owners and operators to be prepared for anything at any time. Be sure to offer a wide variety of healthy dishes in order to appeal to the widest possible health-conscious market.
Sustainable and Ethically Sourced Products
Sustainability is quickly becoming a top-tier decision making factor for consumers. They want to eat food that is good for them but is also part of a larger ecosystem that benefits their community and the world.
In turn, consumers are more likely to support restaurants that offer menu items that meet these criteria. This has the potential to disrupt the traditional food service market by forcing owners to prioritize quality over cost efficiency.
One practice Millenials and Gen Z consumers are promoting is regenerative agriculture—a farming practice that restores degraded soil. According to CNBC, companies like Stoneybrook, Danone North America, and General Mills are shifting tactics and are dedicating resources to education, training, and advocating for regenerative agriculture.
Promoting companies that promote sustainability and ethically sourced products can go a long way to keeping your restaurant relevant with younger demographics. Try sourcing these products from your local community as well.
Fast Casual Is In
Everyone is busy nowadays. Because of this, consumers want restaurants to provide convenient and cheap meals without sacrificing quality.
Enter: the fast casual restaurant.
According to Tecnomic’s 2018 Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report, the fast casual sector is continuing to grow. Currently, 80 percent of restaurants are designated as fast casual. And that number seems likely to climb.
The report also found that 85 percent of consumers make dinner decisions the same day they visit a restaurant. Therefore, offering consumers an efficient, tasty, and affordable way to grub is a surefire way to ensure they will become return customers.
CBD and Infused Products
The National Restaurant Association recently ranked CBD/hemp as its hottest food trend of 2019 in its What’s Hot report. Nearly 76 percent of chefs surveyed for the report said that CBD/infused foods concepts are going to be a huge emerging market in the near future.
Consumers are drawn to these products for their health benefits just as much as their taste and after-effects. CBD has been proven to assuage the effects of epilepsy, anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain and arthritis.
There are many ways to incorporate infused products into any restaurant concept as well. They can be served in dishes as appetizers, placed on the drink menu, or served at the bar in adult beverages.