The annual What’s Hot Culinary Forecast report by the National Restaurant Association offers a detailed look at the topics, trends and products that will influence restaurants across the country in the year. Comfort food and innovation top this years list of trends.
Diners are expected to see more alternatives in restaurants this year as owners and operators implement eco-friendly packaging, plant-based proteins, revamped classic cocktails, specialty burger blends and unique meat cuts.
Read Next: Plant-Based Meat Labeling Standards Released
“These trends reflect Americans’ desires to combine the tried and true with the new and different,” says Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research for the Association. “This mix of comfort and edginess is a microcosm of the world we live in. Consumers want something different, but want to keep what satisfies them at the same time, and more than 1 million restaurants around the country are ready to meet those wants and needs.”
The report also looked at off-premises trends as restaurants and third party delivery services respond to the rising preference for delivery. Eco-friendly packaging was the overwhelming leader in the category, reflecting the increased importance operators are putting on sustainability practices.
Meanwhile, healthy options are also on trend this year. According to the survey, healthy bowls will be featured more heavily on menus. In addition, healthy kid's meals will continue to be top-of-mind for parents and chefs alike.