There were two notable restaurant industry reports released this past week: Restaurant Industry 2030: Actionable Insights for the Future, and Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants’ sixth annual Culinary & Cocktails Trend Forecast. The first report, issued by the National Restaurant Assn. (NRA) in partnership with American Express and Nestlé Professional, examines the key indicators shaping the future of the industry, identifies the most and least likely developments over the upcoming decade, and considers possible disrupters outside the industry that could transform it. The Kimpton report reveals the most anticipated and innovative dishes, flavors, ingredients and philosophies that chefs and bartenders will explore in the year ahead.
What stood out in both reports from a sustainability trends standpoint?
Consumers Becoming More Eco-, Health-Conscious
According to the NRA report, Sustainable sourcing and transparency will continue to grow in focus for consumers over the next decade. In order to remain competitive, restaurants will need to adapt to evolving dietary restrictions and consumer preferences. Food trends and menus will naturally evolve to reflect the increasingly health-conscious, ecological mindset of the consumer. Areas to watch include:
- Single-use restaurant packaging, including in delivery, will evolve.
- Artificial intelligence with knowledge of cooking techniques, food chemistry, recipes, and alcohol could produce unexpected new culinary and beverage experiences.
- Advanced genetic knowledge and the rising incidence of lifestyle diseases are likely to create growing demand for meals that provide specific health benefits to diners.
Some nuggets from the Kimpton report:
- Local collaborations will be king in 2020—partnerships with local artists, distillers, farmers, purveyors, community members and more will be important to diners and restaurants alike.
- The social trends predicted as the most impactful on restaurant philosophies in 2020 include transparency across ingredients, sourcing and production, and policies to reduce restaurants’ environmental footprints.
- Sustainability will also continue to take center stage; restaurant and bar managers, chefs and bartenders are crazy about composting, incorporating zero-waste techniques and eliminating single use plastic items.
- Diets once considered alternative are now the norm, so expect to see gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan and keto options become menu mainstays. According to 31 percent of chefs surveyed, it’s no longer enough to have just one or two of these options on the menu.
- Health ingredients are moving into the spotlight—alternative milks, plant-based ingredients and superfoods are now commonplace compared to still up-and-coming items like nutritional yeast, ashwagandha, collagen peptides and seaweed.
- Fifty-one percent of respondents predict plant-based meat alternatives will solidify their mainstream status in 2020 (no longer just a cult following) and we’ll see more plant-based takes on traditional meat dishes. Have you tried an Impossible Burger yet?
- Hiding healthy ingredients are not just for kids anymore—chefs will also be “sneaking” more vegetables into pasta, pizza, breads and sauces and even creating full-vegetable burgers, jerky and chips, made from ingredients like mushrooms, eggplant, sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach or cauliflower.
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