Foodservice trends for 2023 and their impact on design

Some of the significant trends from the last year will continue to grow while other new ones appear for 2023, as Amelia Levin reports

Based on a series of trend reports as well as insights from consultants, we have put together a list of our predictions for the top five trends or issues impacting the foodservice equipment and design community for the coming year.

1. Climate-friendly design

EIT Food, a food innovation initiative supported by the European Union, predicted that in 2023, food systems will play a key role in discussions and decision-making about climate change. With the importance of limiting global warming to 1.5oC becoming more evident and as the deadline for the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals draws closer, Dr Andy Zynga, EIT Food CEO stated: “As we look to make food a high priority in global sustainability and health dialogues over the next year and beyond, we need to involve all stakeholders in conversations.” In the US, as more official and proposed regulations around the use of natural gas come forth, everyone’s talking about the “electrification of kitchens,” with some clients even looking at all- electric kitchens for the future, says Kip Serfozo FCSI, LEED ID&C AP, WELL AP, design director, Cini- Little International. “The gas and solid fuel movement might be on its way out. Manufacturers will be challenged to innovate and come up with equipment that’s
more fully insulated.

2. Regenerative agriculture

Labelled as the biggest food system trend for 2022 by the EIT Food community, regenerative agriculture, which aims to improve soil health and increase biodiversity on farms is likely to see greater uptake by large-scale farms and corporations in 2023. While it may not have a direct impact on foodservice operations, there is a drive toward growing more onsite, especially as hydroponic systems – which require only water and electricity for LED lighting – are easier (and cheaper) to source and install. Farm and Market is a new concept by avid grower Davis Breedlove and his chef-brother Austin. Based in Denver and scheduled to open early next year, the concept will feature an on-site café and market juxtaposed by a 3,000 sq ft, indoor hydroponic garden featuring glass walls so its visible to guests.

3. Plant-based dining

According to global research firm Mintel, plant-based dishes, meat alternatives and entire concepts are poised for major growth. What’s surprising, says Dasha Shor, RD, associate director of global food and drink at Mintel, is that while the market for plant-based meat substitutes may be strong among meat eaters who want to reduce their meat consumption, it’s not currently that strong for those already eating more plants than meat in their diet. Rather, a growing opportunity within the plant-based community lies with foodservice operators.

“There’s an enormous opportunity to showcase plants and even plant-based meat products in an elevated, delicious way,” says Shor. A good example of this is the 100% plant-based concept PLANTA, founded by CEO Steven Salm and executive chef David Lee in 2016. PLANTA currently has 11 restaurant locations across four concepts within its portfolio, including its signature PLANTA, which features plant-based takes on classics from around the world, Asian-inspired PLANTA Queen, Latin-focused PLANTA Cocina, and a fast-casual concept in Toronto, PLANTA Burger, with a new Williamsburg location coming soon.

4. Fluctuating consumer preferences

The EIT report predicted that younger consumers will become agents for change, so much so that research has shown that food sustainability has become more important for two-thirds (64%) of 18–24-year-olds, at least in Europe, in the past year. As a result, culture, philosophy and the way company leadership treats others impact that age group’s restaurant and brand preferences. The NPD Group recently reported that Gen Z consumers aged 18 to 24 are more likely to choose fast-casual, quick- service restaurants compared to older consumer groups. Over half of Gen Z respondents in the study said higher menu prices impacted their restaurant visits, and they prefer chains that tap into their interests via messaging and menu items, particularly in sustainability and plant-based or organic foods. According to the report more than 18% of Gen Zs look for organic options on menus, compared to 12% of consumers over 25, and 16% prefer sustainably sourced foods, compared to 11% in older groups.

5. Smart and sustainable

Already a trend pre-pandemic, sustainability has been front of mind for progressive companies and brands for years. If the pandemic stopped that, they’ve resumed goals and planning in this area. There are two movements going on here, says Serfozo: one is waste reduction and the other is investing in “smart” equipment that is connected to both the building and to remote-enabled technology that enhances efficiencies and reduces waste energy and water facility-wide.

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