International Foodservice Show - The Trends of 2019

International Foodservice Show - The Trends of 2019

It’s that time of year again when the world of Foodservice descends on the Windy City. Chicago plays host to sport, the arts and world class pizza all year round; but for one week a year this incredible city transforms into a hub of activity for anyone with an interest in the out of home market. 

The National Restaurant Association’s ‘International Foodservice Show’ was celebrating its centenary year and they did not disappoint. With talks and lectures from business leaders and industry professionals from across the globe; the show really was the place to be to understand what has happened in our industry in the past 12 months, and what we face in the near future.

Now we have had time to digest the show (figuratively and literally), below are a pick of the top trends I see for our industry.   

1.    Meat. 

Meat is back with a vengeance. There is no getting away from the focus in our industry on plant based protein and plant based diets. This too is a growing trend but a trend we started to expect and I believe we have now been living through for a short while. Speaking to restaurants and distributors at the show; the real rise of meat again, was not so obvious. 

America is seeing a rise in meat consumption. Maybe not in the traditional way meat was consumed, but chicken and pork are driving this rise and the popularity of middle eastern and Asian cuisine means that these meats are featuring heavily on menus. Suppliers were making the most of this at the show with innovative showcases of such dishes drawing crowds from restaurant groups and consumers alike. 

What does this mean? Well it seems that the rise in meat alternatives continues to go head to head with the average American; who consumes over 200 pounds of meat in their diets per year. 

2.    Alkaline Water. 

The last time many of us really thought about ph levels would have been at school. Not in the US water market though. This market has seen Alkaline water around for a while. What we are seeing though is these brands now stratagising for a European market entry; and in particular, wanting to get a piece of the nearly 8 billion bottles of water sold in the UK every year. 

Alkaline water is said to be less acidic than the water we are used to; with a ph level of around 9 contributing towards the expulsion of toxins and processing of nutrients at a greater rate. We know the popularity of the drinks market is going from strength to strength so it’s no surprise distributors and suppliers have decided now is the time to give this trend a push on UK soil. 

UK Bottled water consumption is set to rise by almost 30% by 2022 compared to 2017 (Zenith 2019) and functional products will almost certainly be a key part of this rise. 

3.    Aquafaba 

Aquafaba is fast becoming a key staple in the world of egg replacement. Aquafaba (literally translating as water of bean) is the left over water from the cooking process of a number of beans and peas; but primarily chickpeas.  

Aquafaba can be added (unwhipped) as an egg binder in key recipes such as icing, meringue and mousse. The vegan society highlighted aquafaba in 2015 as a trend of the future; and it appears this year the trend is hitting the mainstream. 

Fora Faba Butter and their stand out branding can be seen across America . Vegan, Gluten Free, Non GM, Soy Free, Dairy Free and complete clean label has meant that Fora have launched a product that offers a solution to the world of cooking and baking. 

Stay tuned to see aquafaba in more products including mayonnaise, ice cream and even beauty goods!

4.    CBD

‘Add CBD to any drink” was one of the first signs I saw as I walked past a coffee shop on the way to my hotel. Cannabidol (CBD) is a compound that can be found in the cannabis plant. 

From CBD gin, coffee and smoothies the market is well and truly alive with this new wellness trend. As to the effects of normal levels of CBD; well the substance is said to ease anxiety and stress without the sometimes negative conations associated with the drug cannabis. 

A trend in the US which is full steam ahead, and in the UK, really starting to grow. 

5.    Table top service 

As well as the food and drink innovation at the International Foodservice Show there were exciting trends within the technology space.  

A device that can cool a bottle of white wine to chilled temperature in minutes was one that impressed me. In terms of real changes to our industry and its technology though  – table top ordering was a key innovation. 

Table top ordering and payment is growing rapidly in the US. There are restaurants where staff are used to cook and deliver food; but ordering and payments are all digital. This trend is growing. Restaurants are even trailing this technology on app based formats – meaning you may be able to view menus, order food, pay for food and leave reviews with your smartphone in hand. 

There will be differing opinions on this but the fact is; with a competitive casual dining sector, decline in our per head restaurant visits, rising rates, rising minimum wage and pension contributions, technology may be the saving grace for some chains. 

Frankie and Benny’s UK have already introduced app based payment and it may not be long before we see OOH sites utilising this innovation. 

The show this year provided a real insight into what's hot and what's not as we almost hit the half way point of 2019. Only time will tell on whether the above trends continue to drive forward both in the UK and US. 

Becci Glastonbury