What better to inspire and annoy us than food trends? Even if we don't partake in the bazaar flavor pairings or subscribe to colorful renditions of foods we hardly recognize, food trends have so much more to give. One never needs to taste charcoal ice cream or a mermaid crepe to be included in the surrounding buzz. Seeing an image or reading an article is enough to create a visceral reaction of horror or joy. Trends pass on or survive at the intersection of consumer opinion, interest, and demand.
Many trends die because they are not delicious or a permanent substitute for something else. After the initial swell of excitement if the food or beverage is not worth eating or drinking on its own without the need to take and post a picture, sales will plummet. Staying-power comes with innovation and genuine appreciation for the trend.
Variety is the spice of life and food trends give us just about as much variety as we can stand. So for all of you food trend lovers (and haters) here is a list of trends you are likely to notice (or continue to notice) in 2018.
Dolled Up Rotisserie Chicken
Despite the changing landscape of food preferences among millennials and their respective food providers, chicken still works. As the importance of checking a menu item for delivery viability is paramount, rotisserie chicken has come to light as a healthy, affordable option that will hold up to delivery. Expect to see a variety of flavor mash-ups and creative disposable utensils to quickly de-bone the birds.
Fast-casual got us moving in the right direction. Combine gourmet ingredients, top shelf booze, a fresh, novel atmosphere, and voila. Look for designer pizza paired with sparkling rose, eco-chic disposable tableware and very colorful clientele.
High-End Vegetable Entrees
Whether a card carrying vegan or not, restaurant guests of all ages are interested in meatless meals. Vegetables, especially exotic ones have become increasingly exciting to consumers and they are willing to pay top dollar for them. Intense seasonings and elaborate plating efforts will support this trend.
Complex No-Alcohol Beverages
More than just juice, consumers are after house-made sodas, imported colas, and many-ingredient mocktail smoothies with their meals. This is an opportunity for restaurants to show off their style by serving these expensive virgin drinks in mason jars, beakers, or novelty mugs.
Baby Boomers bounce back
Millennials largely stole the microphone for the last decade. Many restaurateurs made every effort to capture their fickle business and loyalty, but the pendulum swings. Baby boomers are being targeted for their loyal and consistent business. Big box restaurant chains are engineering their menus to attract back this population segment.
Restaurants will grow more and more dependent on technology for restaurant operations and planning. 2018 will decrease the gap between the consumer and the food industry. Consumers will share personal details in order to receive personalized service and the internet of things will continue to evolve into an affordable option
Colorful & Creative
Over-the-top food presentations that simply have to be photographed aren't going anywhere. The pre-meal "pic and post" ritual has become so embedded in millennial and gen z culture that restaurants who refuse to consider how their food tastes on Instagram, might as well give up that sector of the market. Even foods that are delivered face the same scrutiny. Be prepared for innovative solutions for to-go and exciting plating.
Waste Awareness and Re-purposing
Food waste is a conversation that is moving from a whisper to a yell. Although a macro-effort and focus need to be implemented before much will truly change, there are some symbolic gestures that create awareness about food waste like re-purposing leaves and putting them in cocktails, encouraging and educating about composting, etc.