As we wrap up 2018, we remember the numerous notable events that occurred in the food industry this year. Romaine lettuce was recalled not once but twice, highly influential chefs Anthony Bourdain and Paul Bocuse passed away, the FDA released a healthier new food code, and much more.
Not only were there many significant things that occurred, but there were a few significant trends that came into play in 2018. Below are a few key findings...
1. Picky eaters?
Millennials, a generation of adults that is on the rise, go out to eat more often than members of Gen X or Baby Boomers. One may think restaurants' growing popularity would lead to there being more of them, but as of May 2018 the number of restaurants had actually dropped 3 percent from a year prior. Maybe consumers are just being more picky and exploring less dining choices.
2. Destination-specific cuisine
In 2018 more consumers wanted to dine at restaurants and purchase food that aligned with a specific part of the world's unique cuisine. It seems that people don't want food options that are as general, like food such as rice which is present in many cuisines, or are maybe just more open to receiving experiences that you would only get if you traveled (transportation such as flying has become too expensive for some).
3. Restaurants that are more open to sharing
What I mean by this is that seemingly more and more menus contain nutritional information such as what items are gluten free, vegetarian, or vegan, and how many calories each dish has. Additionally, I have noticed that new or remodeled restaurants are increasingly containing glass walls so that customers can see into the kitchen or view the ingredients that they are using. Perhaps these restaurant trends are to fit what they perceive is the consumer trend of being more curious of what they are putting into their bodies.
4. "Lazy" dining
DoorDash, which was founded in 2013, is now the 162nd most popular and 155th most famous website online, out of 644 million websites in existence. According to prestigious news sources such as Forbes, USA Today, and the LA Times, food delivery is on the rise while less people are visiting restaurants. Perhaps this is due to shifting values, and Americans today are becoming more obsessed with this form of convenience. Especially for those who lead busy lives, "lazy" dining is surely more preferable since it is quick and easy.
5. Diverse buffets
Restaurants are increasingly turning towards buffets due to their appeal for those in a rush, those who don't want to spend as much money, and those who enjoy choices (well, who doesn't?). The reasoning is simple. Buffets---> more customers---> more money. And what restaurant doesn't want more money?
However, as a new year begins new trends will come into play. The wants and needs of consumers are always changing, and 2019 will be no exception. Due to foods/restaurants that started to become more popular in late 2018, there are a few key trends that can be predicted to take shape this year. Get ready to stock those shelves!
1. Spicy products
Consumers are always looking for daring new foods to try, and like to challenge themselves constantly. According to the Kalsec HeatSync Heat Index, the new global products that have been introduced have become increasingly more spicy across more than a decade. I expect this index will continue to rise, and in 2019 we will see more new foods with a little kick than ever before.
2. Mexican-style restaurants
As the progress of Chipotle's success has slowed and declined (has gone through several CEOs in the past few years, closed 65 under-performing restaurants last June), this has created opportunity for new spins on Mexican food to enter the restaurant world. Not to mention, the increasing Hispanic population in the U.S. will thus create more consumers and producers of foods following Mexican cuisine, growing the industry further in 2019.
3. Innovative proteins
This is not a prediction, this is practically a guaranteed trend that will continue to rise in popularity in 2019. One of the main innovative practices in the food industry has recently been creating unique protein products from plants and even insects! This has even made its way into my house, and we find ourselves eating plant-based burgers (we are vegetarian) every other week, and they taste eerily similar to normal burgers. Science has advanced to the point where we are receiving more and more options for our protein, and the food industry is starting to think out of the traditional box where consumers turn to animals for the bulk of their protein consumption.
(Those are the trends that I believe will soar in 2019, in addition to a few trends from 2018 that will continue across 2019 such as the Paleo diet, healthier desserts/snacks, and food in bowl format.)
A high schooler with a love of food. See the My Story page to find out more.