20/20 Vision

Top industry trends to keep you on track

Hard to believe, but 2020 is right around the corner, and with it the promise of new trends to help operators run better businesses. We asked our data partner, Technomic Inc., to tap into the top trends:

1. Powered by Plants (MENU)

Plant-based beef patties have gained increasing popularity over the past year. We predict that the next wave of plant-forward dining expands beyond beef to include imitation seafood, eggs and pork. We also predict that less familiar vegetables and fruits will take the spotlight as centre-of-the-plate proteins, such as ume and Jerusalem artichokes.

Over a third (34%) of consumers report that they are eating more meals with vegetarian options or substitutes than they were two years ago.
Source: Technomic

2. Creative Employee Engagement Strategies (OPERATIONS)

With rising competition from non-foodservice companies such as Uber and Lyft to gain and retain employees, we expect to see more creative employee engagement initiatives geared toward young people. For example, McDonald’s partnered with Snapchat earlier this year to hold a one-day virtual hiring event, which allowed users to instantly apply through the Snapchat app. Expect more tech-centred strategies that utilize social media and mobile apps.

3. Food from Your Couch (OPERATIONS)

With growing requests for increased convenience and accessibility, restaurants will offer more ways to cater to consumers’ “here and now” demand. This includes restaurants rolling out meals kits and providing easier online ordering methods, such as partnering with Google Assistant for voice ordering.

4. Live-Action Fare (MENU)

Customers don’t just want their food and beverage to taste good, but they also want it to look good too. With consumers increasingly documenting their restaurant experiences on social media, we predict operators will roll out meals that can be captured in interesting videos that can be shared on Instagram, Facebook and the like. This includes menu offerings that change colour, move or make noise.

Example: Starbucks recently introduced reusable cups that change colours when ice is added. Rose turns into coral red, citron yellow becomes emerald, sky turns cobalt blue, apricot becomes tangerine and the icy blue cup changes into a raspberry colour.

Over a quarter (26%) of consumers ages 18-34 express they would be likely to purchase unique limited-time beverages that are experimental, including colour-changing drinks.
Source: Technomic 2018 Canadian Beverage Consumer Trend Report, 136 consumers ages 18-34

5. Levantine Inspirations (MENU)

With Israeli foods and beverages proliferating on menus the past year, we predict interest to expand from Israel to its surrounding countries in the Levant in the coming year, including ingredients, flavours, dishes or beverage trends from Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and more.

6. Immediate Waste Elimination (OPERATIONS)

Even though most restaurants have taken steps to be greener, operators will meet consumers’ growing demands for urgent change by taking immediate steps that can be seen at the restaurant level. This includes banning of plastic bags and cutlery, and food programs that donate unsold foods to local community groups at the end of every day.

Example: FoodRescue.ca is a website that directly connects food businesses with surplus food to non-profits with limited funding and resources.

7. Natural Enhancements (CONSUMER)

Consumers’ definitions of health continue to evolve from the elimination of “bad” components, like fat and calories, to the addition of components that better their mental, physical and emotional well-being. With that in mind, operators will incorporate ingredients that provide natural enhancements, such as collagen, goldenberries and various algaes.

8. Hearty Snacks (GLOBAL)

Operators are taking a traditional snack and enhancing or reinventing it so it becomes more filling. Examples include protein-enhanced mac and cheese, poutine with an extra wow factor, and spirulina popcorn. By doing this, they are essentially giving consumers a new reason to visit between traditional dayparts. While this is mostly prevalent in Latin American markets, snacks will likely increase in popularity in Canada.

Example 1: Our Daily Brett’s Spirulina Popcorn (Calgary)
Example 2: The Juice Truck’s Protein Ball with hemp

Over a third of consumers state they would be likely to purchase snacks that are high in protein (38%) and energizing (35%).
Source: Technomic

9. C-Stores Gaining an Edge on QSRs (OPERATIONS)

Convenience stores are stepping up their game, serving as a threat to QSRs through a variety of ways, such as offering more, unique prepared foods and beverages, providing delivery and improving quality of fare.

Example: Popbox Micromrkt in Toronto menus upscale coffees and specialty beverages that highlight healthy ingredients like turmeric.

Over half of consumers (56%) somewhat or strongly agree that c-stores are just as capable as restaurants in offering fresh foods and beverages.
Source: Technomic 2018 Canadian C-Store Foodservice Consumer Trend Report, 668 consumers who purchase retail and prepared foods/beverages at convenience stores

10. Transparency 2.0 (GLOBAL)

Consumers want to know and understand what is in their foods and beverages, and the source of their food. Many key operators have jumped on this trend by providing details on the living conditions of poultry and cattle, and offering produce from local farms. Expect this trend to continue with increased transparency, such as literally transparent packaging, allowing customers to see the food inside the box or bag before they purchase; nutrition labels simplified and easier to understand; and more details on company culture and hiring practices (such as working condition of farmers/employees).

Example: B.Good, a U.S.-based chain expanding in Canada, features a map on restaurants’ walls showing from which local farms and bakeries seasonal ingredients are sourced.

Half of consumers (50%) agree or agree completely that they would like restaurants to be more transparent about what’s in their menu items.
Source: Technomic

Sophie Mir is an Associate Editor for Technomic Inc., a Chicago-based foodservice research and consulting firm. Technomic provides clients with the facts, insights and consulting support they need to enhance their business strategies, decisions and results. The company’s services include publications and digital products as well as proprietary studies and ongoing research on all aspects of the food industry. Visit technomic.com for more information