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Our 2024 Foodservice Forecast

It’s that special time of year where we look ahead to the coming months and ask ourselves where we think our beloved industry is headed. Read on for insights ranging from flavor trends to customer experiences to well-being and more. Plus, be sure to check out our 2023 predictions here. No matter what’s on the menu in 2024, you know we’ll be into it!

Kids menus have…matured


Children’s eating habits are unpredictable, but thanks to the growth of ethnic foods and expanded choices at home, families are expecting more options beyond just cheeseburgers or chicken tenders while eating out. Don’t get me wrong, those classics aren’t going anywhere, they’re frequently being elevated beyond simply being an afterthought. I also think healthier, global-inspired meals made with high-quality ingredients are likely to be more visible for the young’ns.

Check out the last item in this trends list»

Last year’s prediction: Local is logical

Having fun with food


Concepts such as Dave & Busters and Top Golf laid the foundation for the combination of dining and gaming. As consumers continue to look for more memorable experiences, we’ll likely see an increase in options where friends and family can enjoy a delicious meal as well as some fun competition. You’ve probably seen an uptick in activity-based establishments like axe-throwing venues, and most cities have at least one bowling alley that’s undergone a renovation to enhance their environment and elevate their food offerings.

See more about immersive dining spaces»

Last year’s prediction: A return to service

Frugal foodie: dining on a dollar… or dime


As we all know the cost of living has become quite expensive, and that likely won’t be changing any time soon… but just because groceries and other necessities cost more than they used to doesn’t mean you should have to sacrifice the pure enjoyment a good meal brings. Throughout multiple social media platforms people are offering tasty, yet inexpensive and simple meal ideas that you can indulge in.

Check out 62 easy and cheap dinner ideas»

Last year’s prediction: Simple & whole

Get your soup on


Stew, bisque, chowder… no matter what you call it, soups are the perfect carrier for so many food and flavor trends. They can be big, bold and bursting with the latest tastes from around the world, or they can be refined, upscale and nuanced to showcase the artistry of the chef. Plus, soups can always be crafted using ingredients on the brink of expiration — especially important with rising food costs. With the limitless possibilities of soups and the always evolving consumer palate, I think we’re all going to be getting our soup on more in 2024 than in any year before.

5 more soup trends»

Last year’s prediction: Creative customization

Tipping pushback


With so many restaurants paring back service, the rising cost of EVERYTHING, and the expansion of the tip prompt, I expect consumers will semi revolt against the standard 20% tip. The Washington Post found that 72% of consumers say tipping is expected in more places today than it was five years ago. I suspect we’ll experience more discussions around fair employee wages and how menu prices absorb the rising cost of everything.

See why 66% of Americans have a negative view of tipping»

Last year’s prediction: TikTok takes on foodservice

Suburbs continue to grow as a dining destination


I think there are two factors that are causing this shift. 1) The pandemic moved people out to the suburbs, and restaurants are meeting people where they are. 2) Price perception is higher in downtown areas compared to the burbs or smaller communities. It makes sense that spending habits are drawing consumers to those more middle-tier experiences.

See other insights on how suburbia is the next frontier for enterprising restaurateurs»

Last year’s prediction: Buzz-free and healthy

Food delivery on the decline?


DoorDash is testing tipping before delivery in selected markets. If you don’t tip prior to receiving your food, you risk not getting it or it being delayed. I think with the continual rise of food costs, food delivery may get too expensive for some, especially when they’re being pressured to leave a tip. With others, it may cause frustration if they are continually receiving bad service yet still having to tip (as opposed to tipping based on quality of service).

Here are more details on the new tipping policy»

Last year’s prediction: Plant-based eating has deep roots

Mocktail madness: zero-proof cocktails


With an increase in mindfulness for overall health, wellness, health-conscious meals, consumers are extending this sentiment to their beverage choices. The NA beverage industry has already seen a significant increase in popularity with the rising health-focus and trends like Dry January. People still love the social aspect of bars, breweries, and restaurants, so I expect the demand will only increase as the stigma behind non-alcoholic drinks fades and more exciting options pop up for no- or low-alcohol drinks.

More insights on the NA movement»

A craving for nostalgia


With all the negativity in the news today with the economy, world tensions, and an upcoming election, I believe there will be an increased desire for nostalgic menu favorites, or “newstalgia”, a twist on a favorite from the past. Even cocktails are borrowing from years ago with a resurgence of the classics like Brandy Alexanders and Pink Squirrels.

See stats on nostalgia as a menu theme»

Last year’s prediction: Shareable experiences

Still a big dill


Pickle flavored (fill in the blank) isn’t going away in 2024. According to Yelp, “Searches for pickle-flavored foods were up 55% in 2023.” With Heinz Ketchup joining Hidden Valley Ranch and Franks Hot Sauce with dill flavors, not only are the dill condiments sticking around, even more pickle picks are showing up. I’ve seen everything from dill martinis and beer to dill nuts and dips to dill popsicles and ice cream. Mmm DILLicious!

Yes, Pickle-Flavored Ranch is here»

Last year’s prediction: Sustainability is here to stay

Sustainable seas & beyond: the rise of plant-based seafood and food waste fare


As we sail into 2024, the culinary horizon is being reshaped by innovation and environmental awareness. We should see a growing plant-based seafood market and an overall shift in plant-based cuisine as a whole with the resurgence of whole ingredients like mushrooms taking center stage in our burgers and bowls. We can also expect to see a focus on food made from waste, adding both an economical and eco-friendly twist to our meals. Overall, there’s a growing consumer preference for sustainable, health-conscious options, so it’s likely the food industry will continue to innovate in ways that please both the palate and the planet in the new year.

We loved the “help from kelp” writeup here»

Expanding and evolving clean labels and vegan delights


Over the years, my family and I have slowly transitioned to a near-vegan diet, and I’ve definitely noticed how our choices are expanding. It’s now not uncommon at all to find vegan options in grocery stores and entire restaurants dedicated to the movement — with tons of delicious dishes. I’m excited for more people to give it a try, and I think they’ll be surprised by how easy it is now as opposed to years ago.

Some say 2024 will be the most vegan year yet»

Going full beans on legumes


With a spotlight on ethical eating and environmental wellness, plant-based options aren’t going away any time soon. Despite the popularity of these causes, there is still a fair amount of skepticism surrounding the meat-imitation products. In reaction to this skepticism, I think we will see more protein alternatives with clean and simple ingredients. Of the plant-based proteins available, I believe the humble pulse is the perfect benefactor to this growing trend. Pulses, the edible seeds from legume plants, are generally high in protein and fiber, and they can be quite culinarily versatile. I predict we will be seeing more black bean patties, hearty grain bowls with lentils, fresh salads with roasted chickpeas, and many more pulse-based options in 2024.

Food Network calls pulses the “superfood you’ve never heard of”»

Last year’s prediction: Go with your gut

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