Top 20 Food Trends for 2018
Posted: May. 18, 2018
Every year we wait for the National Restaurant Association’s What’s Hot: Culinary Forecast and the results are in for 2018. The extensive report covers all trends in the food and beverage industry; today, we focus on just the top 20 culinary trends. Some we have seen before, and several are new trends never previously discussed, like ethnic-inspired breakfast items. In fact, you’ll find that ethnic-inspired foods are a dominant theme for this year’s dining forecast.
As always with food trends, we encourage you to learn more for the sake of knowing what’s going on in your industry. If you do find a trend that inspires you or fits well to your dining establishment, run with it. If we have learned anything, it’s that most food trends have long-lasting impacts on consumer behavior, and when a restaurant executes a trend well, there are many benefits. They earn a “trendsetter” reputation, remain relevant in a competitive industry, and see a boost in sales—all factors that help to keep the doors open for a long time.
The Top 20 Food Trends in 2018
Let’s see what the National Restaurant Association predicts to be 2018’s major restaurant trends!
- New cuts of meat
- House-made condiments
- Street-food inspired ethnic cuisine
- Ethnic-inspired breakfast items
- Sustainable seafood
- Healthful kids’ meals
- Vegetable-carb substitutes
- Uncommon herbs
- Authentic ethnic cuisine
- Ethnic spices
- Peruvian cuisine
- House-made artisan pickles
- Heritage-breed meats
- Thai-rolled ice cream
- African flavors
- Ethnic-inspired kids’ menus
- Doughnuts with untraditional fillings
- Gourmet items within kids’ menus
- Ethnic condiments
- Ancient grains
What We’ve Seen Before
If you have been following the Lavu Blog for the past few years, then you probably recognize several of these trends.
In 2016, ancient grains were already on the food-trend radar: What they are and why restaurants should know about them were hot topics in the industry. (If you’re unfamiliar with ancient grains, they are the guilt-free versions of carbohydrates chosen by today’s health-conscious consumer. Think: quinoa and spelt.)
In the wake of healthful eating, it didn’t take too long for consumers to start seeking out non-grain carbohydrate substitutes. Cauliflower and mushrooms became popular alternatives to pizza crusts, rice, and hamburger buns in recent years. So, while the Association lists vegetable-carbs as a 2018 trend, it’s far from being a new fad.
Lavu Pro Tip: A precursor was the healthy comfort food trends listed in 2017, and we say with confidence that vegetable substitutes for carbs are here to stay. If you’re not convinced, consider how well Wegman’s and Trader Joe’s cauliflower pizza crusts are selling. It’s a well-known fact that consumer dining behavior is influenced by grocery store purchases.
Street-foods from the Far East and India have made it to the United States, and we can expect to see more ethnic culinary varieties than the familiar Thai and Vietnamese offerings, like snacks from the Philippines, Japan, and Malaysia.
The move from brand name to house-made condiments is a long-time coming. Restaurants started preparing their own versions of the basic sauces like ketchup and mayonnaise, and today we are seeing unique condiments and sauces line the menus in everything from burrito shops to white-tablecloth restaurants.
Ice cream from around the world has recently become a new source of recipe inspiration for ice cream shops in the United States. The latest trend of Thai-rolled ice cream has already taken major cities like Philadelphia by storm.
Healthy consumers and vegetarians are parents, too, and this group of restaurant-goers is unimpressed with the unhealthy choices found on kids’ menus. In 2018, it’s time to revamp your children’s menu. For a mom-approved kids’ menu, add more healthy options. And don’t be afraid to embrace 2018’s trends of ethnic-inspired or gourmet recipes for your youngest guests.
In 2017, we saw blended burgers on more menus and specialty butcher shops opening across the country. This year, the interest in high-quality, locally farmed meats has opened Americans’ taste buds for new cuts of meat. In our examination of a global look at butchers’ cuts, we learned that the United States has the fewest cuts of beef, whereas, in Korea, there are over 100. There are a lot of unique flavors to be discovered, and consumers are waiting for these new cuts to be added to menus.
Like cotton candy and cereal-only restaurants, artisan pickles are the newest buzzword on the culinary scene. Instead of using pickles from a jar, delight guests with specialty pickles for a flavorful surprise on your sandwiches.
Trends are indicators for the future and what customers are going to want. Stay current by adding one or two of 2018’s hottest culinary trends to your menu.
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Posted: May. 18, 2018 | Written By: Emma Alois
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