Successful food and beverage professionals account for ever-changing consumer preferences and respond to the social trends shaping restaurant operations. In many ways, tuning in to patrons’ wants and needs is more important than ever before. Your customers are closely connected through social media and other channels, so word travels fast, rapidly influencing their preferences and perceptions. If you’re not ready to adjust your approach, in the direction of food and beverage trends, you may risk being left behind.

Restaurant trends don’t follow a schedule. Granted, you may sell more cold beverages on a hot summer day than you do in January, but broader trends often arise unexpectedly, challenging your ability to adapt. Though you may not be able to anticipate every trending opportunity, a forward-looking philosophy and an ear to the ground can help you reap the rewards of operating a cutting-edge culinary enterprise.

As you usher your restaurant, bar, or bistro business into the new year, consider these predictions, which may provide clues you can use to stay one step ahead of the latest food and beverage business trends.

Doing the Right Thing

Social issues and environmental responsibility haven’t always been top concerns for chefs and restaurateurs. However, emphasis has shifted in recent years, demanding greater transparency within the food chain. Like it or not, many of your customers now choose where they do business, based upon their closely-held values. If you expect to prosper in 2019, your restaurant business must adopt practices to which your patrons can relate.

Reducing Food Waste – It is thought as much as 40 percent of the US food supply is wasted, never reaching plates. Though the food waste problem isn’t limited to commercial settings, restaurant businesses share responsibility for America’s poor track record, utilizing nature’s edible bounty.

The financial incentive to cut food costs is a strong source of motivation for food and beverage operators, furnishing opportunities to boost profits. Unfortunately, the food waste problem persists, despite in-house efforts to curb costs. With a bright light now illuminating the problem, successful entrepreneurs will do a better job accounting for food waste in 2019.

It’s already underway, but the movement against food waste will continue to gain momentum this year, forcing change in the food and beverage industry. One example of the efforts being made is a recent, multi-year initiative launched by the James Beard Foundation. The organization’s “Waste Not” program encourages chefs and home cooks to reduce food waste. Positioning your business on the right side of this widely held social value is a must for the new year.

Sprout Funding logoCommitting to Sustainable Practices – In addition to responsible use of foodstuffs, restaurant operators will be expected to increase sustainability at their establishments in 2019. The concept encompasses several aspects of restaurant operations, including practices that preserve and protect the environment, renew natural resources, and promote equity and community. Addressing all the touchpoints is a tall order, so the notion of sustainability is often distilled to a more direct environmental focus. Your responsibility as a food and beverage operator lies in these and other areas of sustainability concern:

  • Using water efficiently
  • Emphasizing green cleaning
  • Controlling pollution and emissions
  • Reducing solid waste
  • Adopting energy efficient production practices
  • Maintaining comprehensive recycling policies and practices
  • Promoting sustainability within the supply chain

Functional Foods and Natural Enhancements

Health trends commonly migrate into food and beverage operations, reflecting public demand for healthful lifestyle alternatives. One visible trend currently shaping restaurant practices is incorporating functional foods into menu offerings. The healthy add-ons aim to shore-up dietary balance, filling in gaps in people’s nutritional intake. For instance, a notable example now rippling through the restaurant industry is the use of spices such as turmeric and other natural ingredients, believed to stimulate health benefits.

Functional foods are distinguished from natural enhancements, in that they fill nutritional voids, whereas enhancements purportedly elevate existing aspects of the body or its performance. Foods said to boost endurance or fortify brain function, for example, will continue to catch on in 2019. Food and beverage operators tuned-in to the trend will work harder, directly promoting these healthful ingredients.

Tech-inspired Convenience

Food service businesses have traditionally relied on a personal touch, catering to customer preferences and providing a positive overall experience. With the help of technological advances, food trends favoring efficiency over personal connections have changed the paradigm.

Restaurant entrepreneurs are increasingly called upon to reduce the amount of time and effort required to place orders, pay for food, and deliver meals. The trend is poised to continue in 2019, as app-based payment methods and high-tech platforms such as drone delivery services continue gaining ground with convenience craving consumers. The challenge for food and beverage entrepreneurs will be utilizing tech advances to their fullest advantage, while still injecting enough personal service to reinforce their brand identities.

There is no shortage of food service predictions, pointing up potential trends that may impact restaurant businesses in 2019. From food and beverage industry experts to individual owners, stakeholders from every corner of the epicurean landscape seem to have ideas about what might happen this year. Though it’s hard to forecast exactly what to expect, increased transparency, tech-driven trends, and higher demand for functional foods are three trends worth watching. 

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