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Top five food trends for restaurant owners in 2020

28 January 2020 Small Business Advice

As 2020 marches on, it brings with it the latest food trends. In 2019 we saw the rise of cronuts, matcha, more sourdough variants, as well as the much-loved yorkshire pudding wrap. Smashed avocado has managed to stand the test of time, as well as a variety of fermented foods such as kimchi and kombucha. However, there are some foods that only ever reach fad status, sticking around long enough to cause a stir, but not having any lasting impact on our culinary experiences.  

So how can restaurants and cafés keep up with the latest in food trends and technology, without succumbing to fleeting fad gimmicks?

We already know that people, especially millennials and Gen Xers are a lot of environmentally conscious and therefore look for a wider range of vegan, vegetarian and sustainable restaurants. In fact, our latest Restaurant Insights Report revealed that 32% of people surveyed rated a range of vegan options as highly important. Restaurants that adapt to these shifts and roll adapt to the shifting cultural norms are a lot more likely to reap the benefits. 

We’ve rounded up the five most important foods trends expected to take off across this year, and outlined how restaurants can meaningfully engage with them to cater to customers.

Sustainable and ethically sourced seafood

For both health and environmental reasons, people are eating a lot less red meat. This means that for those not completely vegetarian, when dining out fish is their go-to treat. But with concerns over ethical fishing and the carbon footprint of our foods, diners are more likely than ever to favour locally sourced and ethically caught seafood. 

As well as tasting a lot fresher, local produce is more sustainable and also supports independent businesses in your area, as well as giving you the option to explore lesser-known options beside the standard salmon, tuna and seabass. 

 How to keep up with the trend:

  • Introduce different locally sourced fish specials on your most popular days
  • Ensure you state clearly on your menus and all marketing materials where the fish comes from and why it is ethical/sustainable 
  • Reach out to local fishmongers/suppliers and ask if they will promote your restaurant and vice versa 
  • When looking at your menu, consider a mix of well-known staple foods (think fish pie, or fish finger sandwich) as well as some more inventive and gourmet dishes

Gut-healthy fermented foods 2.0

While fermented foods aren’t a new trend, they are here to stay and they are expanding massively across the UK. UberEats has even predicted from their food searches on the app that Kimchi will be one of 2020s trends, for another year running. Kimchi is probably the most well-known fermented food, but what new probiotics should you expect in this new decade? 

More recently, bars have started to offer a lot more kombucha options, both alcoholic (in trendy cocktails) and none-alcoholic mixes of the drink for hip young health conscious clients. 

Global expansion and multiculturalism has meant that city dwellers can often luckily experience authentic cuisines from across the globe, without ever boarding a plane. It’s not uncommon to look to the east to merge traditional and longstanding ingredients into more familiar Western dishes.

In fact, we’re now seeing a rise in lesser-known ingredients such as Burmese fermented tea-leaves in salads and Kefir ice cream.   

How to keep up with the trend:

  • If you think that adding fermented foods could alienate or exclude your demographic, don’t run the risk..simply add a few drinks or desserts to the menu to trial first to gauge whether there is interest
  • Lunch time options such as salads are a great way to trial new ingredients, asking diners if they would like to add kimchi or fermented beans to their salads as an option first
  • Create some engaging content or a ‘healthy options’ section on your menu explaining the cultural history and health benefits of fermented foods, to allow customers to better understand why they should choose them

Gluten free

Less a trend, and more an acknowledgement of allergens in general, gluten free and dairy free options are now more important than ever for people who want to feel like they are being catered for and aren’t just a ‘see our sides, salads and starters’ afterthought. 

Where possible, restaurants should be able to offer at least 4-5 main course gluten free options, not including drinks and desserts (which also shouldn’t be overlooked— having gluten free beers would definitely win brownie points with some diners!)

How to keep up with the trend:

  • As well as highlighting gluten free options, consider creating a bespoke ‘allergies menu’ (with a snappier name) which allows customers with specific dietary requirements to pick dishes and drinks at ease
  • Incorporate gluten, meat and dairy free options into your specials board so diners know that you have them in mind throughout the experience, not just at ad-hoc requests 
  • Experiment with the classics! Known for your shepherd’s pie or amazing bangers and mash? Why not swap out ingredients to make an allergen friendly option too.

Cauliflower, and the rise of healthy comfort foods

Last year we saw the infamous cauliflower steak make waves across the UK, perhaps less because of the concept, and more because of its hefty and unjustifiable price tag in some restaurants

However, since then, cauliflower has become a staple ingredient in some of the nation’s most loved dishes. Uber have placed it on their ‘2020 trends list’ as they’ve seen an increase in cauliflower related searches across their app.

Uber’s increase in searches aren’t in isolation either, across the last year  there were over 12,000 Google searches per month for cauliflower steaks, over 5,000 searches for mashed cauliflower and almost 4,000 searches for cauliflower pizza in the UK alone!

It’s not just cauliflower though, broccoli, courgette and butternut squash replace their less-healthy counterparts in dishes such as katsu curry and spaghetti bolognese.

How to keep up with the trend:

  • Creating healthy comfort foods should be surprisingly easy, and they often cater for vegetarians too. For example, try taking current dishes and swapping out heavy red meats or carbs for vegetable or even soy alternatives 
  •  Be proactive in promoting healthier alternatives to existing dishes, ask servers to tell customers you have a healthier or lighter alternatives menu/options should they want it
  • Start off by trialling these healthier options as lunch time options, when people may want a lighter meal to stave off the post-lunch slump

Ice cream!

A lot of this post has been geared towards healthier foods, but it’s not all about staying lean in 2020, apparently desserts are back and they’re  more elaborate than ever. Inspired by Japan, stretchy ice-cream is going to hit the UK by storm in 2020. 

Taiyaki is a fish-shaped cake made from fried batter, with a hollowed-centre, which you can fill with pretty much anything, but the latest craze is stretchy ice cream. These delicious cones are completely instagrammable which may be (where the craze has snowballed from in the first place) and NY has seemed to dominate thus far, however never far behind, taiyaki treats (both sweet and savoury) are now available in London’s very own Covent Garden.   

So despite the clean living, it turns out a lot of us still have a soft spot for some good old ice cream and waffles! 

How to keep up with the trend:

  • Okay, so we’re not suggesting you start to introduce Japanese taiyaki into your menu, but given that people are still willing to spend good money on tasty desserts, it’s the perfect time to shake up your sweets menu
  • Why not simply add some delicious ice-cream or gelato desserts which include dairy-free and can be paired with either a brownie or a healthier option of a fruit salad?
  • In keeping with the ethical theme, locally sourced and seasonal desserts are a good trend which can apply to ice cream too, why not incorporate seasonal fruits into ice cream recipes such as rhubarb or dark berries  

Want to spend more time developing recipes and revamping your restaurant this year? Fancy spending longer talking to customers instead of customer service reps? Paymentsense card machines and integrated payment systems will help you do just that, find out how today with an online quote.

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