Top 5 Restaurant Trends of 2020

With third-party apps ready to deliver everything but the plastic straw and plant-based meats pairing perfectly with spiritless cocktails, restaurant trends are poised to influence the industry for a whole new decade. Join Nikken Foods as we break down the macro trends of the last few years that have now become the mainstay of the modern restaurant experience in 2020.

Let’s look at the top 5 restaurant trends for 2020 that got us excited:

Veganism isn’t Just for Vegans

If you haven’t run into a friend or a menu that is making veganism a priority at the moment, then you must be living under a steak. The uptick in plant-based meat alternatives in the restaurant world these past few years is doing more than just turning customers vegan – it’s getting people who would typically never loosen their grip on a cowboy burger to at least try vegan food.

Whether they’re focused on healthy eating or the environment, this fad has become a mainstay on most menus and are being called out in big ways as “part-time vegans” are being identified with new orders every day. We expect more brands will follow White Castle and Burger King’s move with the “impossible burger” to create their own proprietary plant-based meat products and be part of the movement.

Make Way for Mocktails

Move over craft brewers, the spirit-free cocktail trend is growing and, with the rise of healthy and alcohol-free drinks like kombucha, hopped-up waters and low-alcohol beer and wine, we’re seeing more taste-makers trading the booze for the flavor. In fact, as we mentioned in our top 20 food trends of 2020, this mocktail movement is all about the flavor, aroma and mouthfeel and it’s working for their products and their popularity.

We’re already seeing so many chain and independent restaurants, groceries and bars stocking their shelves in 2020 and expect to see a soberingly small amount of ABV in libations this decade.

Bye Bye Single Use Plastic

Sustainability is the name of the game and plastic water bottles are among those who just aren’t playing it very well. With over 52 million tons of food being sent to US landfills every year, restaurants and their suppliers are being asked to step up and play their part to ensure that waste is reduced and whatever waste is left over is repurposed.

Within the restaurant industry, we expect to see a lot of brands place more bans on elements that harm the environment and an overall abandonment of single-use plastic packaging in 2020. Going green is getting serious and it will make a difference.

Who’s Afraid of Ghost Kitchens?

When hunger strikes, who you gonna call? Ghost kitchens. These commissaries of old are back in the forefront of the modern restaurant business model as the convenience of food delivery is at peak popularity and demand is surpassing supply. To accommodate, restaurants are using strategic real estate options to spin up offsite cooking spaces and pop up restaurants to better serve their patrons and their pockets.

“The fact that DoorDash is getting into this as a new channel for their business really speaks to the direction that [ghost kitchens are] headed and that it is not just a commissary kitchen,” said Aimee Harvey, managing editor of Technomic. “Different restaurant brands can share a common ghost kitchen, but working hand in hand with delivery is really going to be the next sort of extension of the trend.”

The Self-Serve Movement

While restaurants clinging to what made them popular 20 years ago are starting to decline and shutter their doors, the same kind of restaurant that is shifting with how consumers want to interact with their brand are thriving. And not all of the trends require expensive automation; sometimes, the answer is to just put the customer to work.

One of the most interesting restaurant trends of 2020 is the self-serve movement where consumers do the heavy lifting or hand-crafting to get their final product. Touch technology has the consumer handling the order process while grab-n-go products eliminate the wait altogether. As more brands reshape their service model to serve this behavior, we expect to see a more streamlined restaurant service in the near future.

Are your products keeping up with these important restaurant trends?

The food scientists at Nikken Foods can help you build the exceptional dining experience your consumers are looking for through our vast array of all-natural, powdered ingredients. Explore our pantry of solutions to find the flavorful results you need.