San Francisco-based hospitality consulting firm AF&Co. has released a report on what it believes will be the top food and beverage trends for 2018.
Andrew Freeman, AF&Co.’s master trendologist, says to expect “perpetual change” throughout restaurants and the hospitality industry. He adds that the businesses that are most prepared to change and adapt will be the ones who are most successful.
Freeman notes that the current uncertain and tumultuous time in society has a tremendous effect on trends. Therefore, two major elements of many of the projected trends for 2018 involve comfort and nostalgia. For example, Freeman says millennials are growing up and bringing their childhood food preferences with them, resulting in a lot of nostalgic cuisine including chicken nuggets, tater tots and cookie dough.
This desire for comfort can also be seen in another trend AF&Co. is expecting in 2018: classic dishes with a modern twist. An example would be the reemergence of crudité with unusual dip choices.
The trends report also predicts greater diversification and nuance in regional and ethnic food. Freeman says this will be seen particularly in Mexican and Chinese cuisine. The trend will involve going beyond the blanket term of “Mexican” or “Chinese.” Food and dishes specific to various regions and sub-regions will come into the spotlight, and Freeman believes this is because people are more interested in where food comes from now. “We can really learn way more about food than we ever did before,” he says.
Fitting into both the trend toward nostalgia and more nuanced regional influences, pizza is a comfort food that will come into the spotlight and be reimagined in 2018, according to the report. Global influences, varying styles and endless customizable options will allow for more unique interpretations of what Freeman calls “the comfort food of our generation.”
Finally, a major trend AF&Co. expects to see is the reduction of restaurant waste – and that will take many forms. In recent years restaurants have worked to utilize all parts of animals in their cooking to reduce waste, but Freeman expects that to be the case with everything in 2018.
Efforts in sustainability will also be seen in beverage trends, according to the report. Cocktails will inspired by nature and utilizing all seasonal ingredients or byproducts from the kitchen.
Plus, Freeman says 2018 will be the year of mocktails in various forms. This includes house-made tonics, elixirs, sodas, tinctures and juices. Many will come with a healthy spin and/or add-on options.
For daytime beverages, cold brew coffee is “here to stay,” says Freeman. However, 2018 will bring more fun flavors and artisan preparations to the trendy cold beverage.