It seems that every shift to the restaurant landscape brings with it a whole host of new questions:

What is the next hot flavor trend to watch? Which segment truly owns “convenience?” What is today’s definition of health? What type of technology is up and coming next?

Foodservice industry trends and data observer Technomic says it looked at a wide range of factors affecting the restaurant industry and compiled a list of its top seven key trends for 2019 and beyond.

Here are three food and beverage menu trends identified by Technomic researchers.

Levitating Levantine Cuisine: Growing interest in Israeli cuisine over the past few years has led to increased flavor innovation from Israel’s surrounding countries. Specialties from Lebanon, Syria and Turkey are especially finding momentum in trendy independent restaurants. Sauces such as s’chug, pomegranate molasses, toum, labneh and tahini are finding new and innovative applications, in addition to ingredients including urfa, lavash and even schmaltz.

But once exploration throughout the Levantine matures, what’s next? A likely winner, by way of Turkey as a bridge, is the Balkans.

Natural Enhancements: Functional foods are the “it” health trend today. The first wave of the trend is in full form: Operators are promoting natural remedies such as turmeric as ingredients that fix something in the body that’s lacking in some way. Next year, 2019, will see a blossoming of the second wave of the functional trend: natural enhancements, meaning ingredients that enhance something in the body, even facets that don’t necessarily need fixing—such as brain function, beauty and mental health.

Expect to see more innovative uses of ingredients such as collagen for beauty, cannabis for relaxation and karkade for stress relief, and operators calling out these specific benefits directly.

Sensory Thrills Beyond a Snapshot: Over the past few years, Instagram and other photo-sharing apps have revolutionized the food industry. Restaurants have even created food and beverage with social media in mind. But now, Instagram stories, Facebook Live and YouTube have extended the trend beyond what works in a single snapshot to what plays well through videos. Audio enhancements such as popping candies or items that move or alter in time such as color-changing cocktails, glitter beer and bonito-topped foods wow diners—especially young ones. Because social media is evolving so quickly, expect menu trends to adapt in funky ways.

The next year will continue to reveal the power of disruption. Multiple channels beyond restaurants—from retail foodservice and noncommercial segments to third-party companies—will galvanize behind what consumers want and drive efforts to meet their needs. In an era of consumer hyperchoice, restaurants will have to do more to stand out and execute seamlessly in terms of exceptional service, food quality and integrity, transparency and sustainability. 


Originally appeared in the December, 2018 issue of Prepared Foods as Flavor + Function.