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The Next Idea Restaurant and Food Forecast for 2019

Tags: food

The Next Idea (TNI) anticipates 2019 to be a uniquely pivotal year as the restaurant and Food terrain adjusts itself towards an increasingly confident, exploratory, and discerning consumer.

As we enter 2019 our world is uncertain; Brexit, trade wars, volatile US political landscape, populism, global warming, rising world population, and so it goes on. This may seem a disconnect from 2019 eating out trends, but in reality, our Planet and all of its transformations will have a significant impact on how we eat.

It is clear to most that the impact on our food eco-system by Earth’s planetary changes are significant; many factors involving farming methods, where food is grown, the deployment of pesticides and fertilizers, livestock feed, and so on, affect the environmental impact of the food we buy and eat. The significant changes in weather patterns, population, and geo-politics is now impacting what we eat; and this theme will transcend the coming years.

For example; approximately 86% of world food consumption is generated from rice, maize, sugar, wheat, barley, soy, palm and potato. Across the globe diets are actually becoming increasingly similar, both in the food types, and also the varieties of those food types that are consumed. This results in increasing exposure to shortages in the event of a large-scale natural disaster.  For example, food shortages in 2007/8 were caused by a yield loss in Australia of less than 1% of global food supply, however the net effect created spikes in food pricing and political unrest in certain parts of the world. As economists tried to make sense of the problem, the one primary metric was obvious: world population growth [Demand] vs shrunken availability [Supply] was out of balance. Combine the world’s macro issues at localized levels and we begin to see shifting and emerging trends in both food production and consumer demand.

Talking of the consumer, what are the 2019 consumer’s expectations? This is of course deeply complex and fluctuates by age, income and demographic, however one theme appears to have emerged since the great recession – consumers want a relationship not a transaction. They covet their chosen brands that leverage situational and behavioral data as the primary foundation of their brand engagement. But it goes further, consumers expect their brand experience to be seamless across all engagement points and when it fails, which is inevitable at some stage, recovery will be based on the quality and speed of service and ability to address whatever the failure may be.

When it comes to food and restaurants, consumer expectations have never been higher. With the ability to post their feedback on Trip Advisor, Yelp and Zomato, to name a few, consumers have immense power over brands to ensure they comply, and in some cases exceed, their promise. Indeed, consumers have an unprecedented ability to access or experience food and restaurant products and share this information via all social media platforms.

The modern 2019 consumer has a set of 6 primary values when it comes to food; summarized as follows:
  • Health Awareness
  • Transparency
  • Sustainability
  • Social Consciousness
  • Trust & Honesty
  • Technology Integration
The above value structure is defining trends and demand, accelerating disruption throughout the food chain, and creating a new environment for food sellers and restaurant operators to acclimate their business models.

Evaluating further, the following summarizes each consumer value:

Health Aware

Health continues to be the primary propelling consumer value. When glancing ahead into 2019, expect consumer health and wellness targets to reach new levels. Consumers are increasingly treating their bodies like ecosystems, understanding nutrition valuations and how different foods affect them. They are even customizing their diet based on DNA and Genetics. Food is increasingly viewed as nutritional therapy for all consumer types.


TNI has reported on the change in Consumer behavior since the great recession in 2008/9, whereby demand for honesty and transparency was fueled by perceived brand and corporate deceitfulness. Since then, this value has permeated throughout the food & restaurant world with consumers requiring guarantees on food hygiene, ethics, labelling, and sustainability standards. Traceability from farm to fork, through labelling and general information, is a significant demand by the consumer, and has forced a democratization of both nutritional data and overall ingredient history.


Sustainability has become a major consumer concern over the past twenty years, but never more than now. After experiencing the effects of global warming in 2018 and hearing major scientific reports coming from the United Nations, consumers are acutely aware of their individual impact on Planet Earth, and what the future might look like should they not act.

From the enhanced management of waste reduction, through to renewable packaging in materials and shorter food supply chains, consumers are placing increasing demand on food producers and restaurants to act in the interest of the environment.

Social Consciousness

Consumers now care; it’s that simple. Consumers want to know what supermarkets are doing with their wasted food, how each restaurant supports the community they serve, and how their dollar will be used to support worthwhile causes. This especially applies to the millennial population who demand socially aware food and restaurant brands, or they shop and eat elsewhere.

Trust & Honesty

Consumers are increasingly wary of corporate America, whom they believe have no incentive to act in the consumer’s best interest. Consumers are increasingly fact checking the corporations they choose to do business with. Equally, consumers’ brand loyalty is switching from household names to local and small businesses whom they can better relate to.

Honesty is not just about businesses being truthful, it’s a devotion to genuineness that the consumer seeks: Brands that talk about their roots, and demonstrate their commitments through social responsibility policies, are on trend in 2019.

Technology Integration

Technology within food and food service is not new and the app-centric global society is being serviced well by technology availability. However, technology is becoming increasingly sophisticated and advanced. Artificial Intelligence is being introduced throughout food service and provides predictive technology for restaurant food ordering. Technology runs deep into all forms of food production given the vulnerabilities in farming due to climate change. New blockchain technologies will allow farming to move into warehouses and even underground, through the availability of open source hardware and software platforms for sensor controlled hydroponic and aeroponic agricultural systems. Consumers are welcoming these technologies and availability as it speaks to their interest in sustainability, and in many cases provides something to talk about on social media.

Trend changes in the Food and Restaurant market

The market is changing at unprecedented velocity, this is demonstrated by the multiple emerging trends within all markets. Veganism, *Entomophagy, Lab grown meat, 3d food printing, Food being Medicine, CBD and THC infused products, Nut and grain-based milks, Drone and self- driving car delivery, street food innovation, and the regeneration of food waste, represent the major trends that will prevail through 2019 and after. In the main, these trends will circle around a major theme in food trends over the past 20 years; Health!


Indeed, it is the consumer that will be 2019’s champion for change as, through their combined buying and social media sovereignty, the consumer’s voice will be more powerful than ever.

So, this elusive consumer, what do they actually want? Well, naturally not all consumers are made the same; age, ethnicity, income, and overall demographics all share their role in segmentation. With that said, today’s consumers possess one value that they increasingly collectively care about, and that is their health. While it may seem obvious, consumer health is one of the primary drivers in emerging and materialized food trends, and it is igniting a full array of sub-trends that form 2019’s food and restaurant trend roadmap.


Of course, healthy eating is not a new trend, but the rapidity at which consumer eating habits have shifted towards healthier eating represents the difference. Both at home and in restaurants, consumer food choice has migrated with a greater emphasis on ‘clean’ and ‘healthy’ dishes and is metamorphizing the eating out landscape at an extraordinary rate.

Historically, ‘healthy eating’ was limited in options and generally considered a less than favorable culinary experience. However today, consumers have a far more informed opinion and choice when it comes to ‘healthy food’ options. This is generally due to the swath of cooking channels along with the exponential increase in digital and social media engagement, and creative chefs who have made health food look enticing and fun.

Putting this into perspective, the global health and wellness food market was valued at 707.12 billion U.S. dollars in 2016 and projected to increase up to 811.82 trillion U.S. dollars by 2021. Organic food is another example: The U.S. organic food market size is expected to reach 70.4 billion U.S. dollars by 2025 as a result of increasing demand from consumers. 

Organic food is another example: The U.S. organic food market size is expected to reach USD 70.4 billion by 2025 as a result of increasing demand from consumers. 

Combined with intensified interest in global flavors, superfood ingredients, and Instagram-ready dishes, retail food ranges and restaurant menus will increase focus on dietary needs and concerns while elevating innovation using foods from the past.


As we head into 2019, there are eight primary themes when establishing 2019’s food trends:
  • Veganism
  • Food as Medicine
  • Entomophagy
  • CBD and THC infused products
  • Milk is not Milk
  • Food delivery
  • Regeneration of food waste
  • Technology
These themes relate to all future food trends, in some cases at multiple levels, and as such are the foundation to current and future trends.

2019 Food and Restaurant Trends

1.         Vegan

Not even ten years ago, vegan cuisine was generally considered fodder for hippies, yet in 2019 it is undoubtedly the prevailing overall culinary trend in the US. 

The Vegan landscape now includes established restaurant brands; Veggie Grill, Amy’s, Native Foods, Southern California-based Plant Power, and recently re-named Viva Vegan, to name a few. All have all demonstrated the power of this trend and are experiencing above average market growth.

However, the carnivore brands are fast jumping on the bandwagon; Carl’s Jr. announced it was launching a burger made with a Beyond Meat [vegan] quarter-pound patty. White Castle now sells its plant based Impossible Sliders in all of its 377 locations, Del Taco has expanded its Beyond Taco trial to over 20 of its locations, and McDonald’s has been introducing a Vegan burger in its international markets and is eyeing the US market to launch in 2019.

This trend has been fueled by consumers eating less red meat combined with the discernible health benefits and product innovation. What is interesting is that there is not necessarily a significantly elevated vegan population, instead there is a new consumer breed widely known as a flexitarian.

The label ‘flexitarian’ has been applied to the consumer group who purposefully interchanges between eating meat and vegan foods.

In order to be familiar; vegan restaurant and food brands are taking traditionally meat-based products, such as burgers, pizza, and tacos, and converting them into a plant-based alternative.

Take *Viva Vegan’s menu for example. They offer a Famous Works Burger, a blend of 27 plant-based ingredients, and spaghetti and meatballs, which includes gluten and soy free pasta with bean and grain-based meatballs with a plant-based sauce.

Some Statistics
  • In the USA there has been a 600% increase in people claiming to be vegans in the last three years.  In 2014, 1% of U.S. consumers professed to be vegan in 2014 whereas in 2017, that number rose to 6%.
  • Google Trends details worldwide increase in the interest in veganism from 2004 to 2018. Seven percent or about 3.5 million people now identify as vegan in Great Britain. The U.S. and U.K. round out the top 2 vegan countries by percentage, India takes the first spot with veganism encompassing 27% of the population.
  • Google Search reports that veganism is now experiencing virtually 3 times more interest than vegetarian and gluten free searches
  • A study by Oxford Martin School, (part of Oxford University), stated: ‘A global switch to diets that rely less on meat and more on fruit and vegetables could save up to 8 million lives by 2050, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds, and lead to healthcare-related savings and avoided climate damages of $1.5 trillion (US)’.
  • Technomic reports that 50% of operators are embracing plant-based eating trends when developing new menu items.
Of course, given TNI is a Los Angeles based agency, it would be amiss if we didn’t discuss our Hollywood friends – Ariana Grande, Zac Efron, Gisele, Ellie Goulding, Natalie Portman, Daryl Hannah, Woody Harrelson, and mega star, Beyonce, are all self-declared Vegans.

The Future...

Veganism will grow exponentially. For example, the *global meat substitutes market is expected to generate in excess of $5bn in revenue, representing compound annual growth (CAG) rate of 8.4% between 2015-2020. ** Vegan Cheese has forecasted global sales of around $4bn by 2024, a CAG of 7.6% from 2016 to 2024.

Expect vegetable versions of kung pao chicken, charcuterie, cured heirloom carrots, sushi, tacos, and even steak.

2.         Food as Medicine

We are what we eat – and consumers now know this! The Food as Medicine philosophy aims to manage or even cure chronic illness by changing what people consume. Nielsen reported in 2018 that 39% of American households have someone who suffers from a particular ailment. The US aging population is increasing, chronic diseases will only grow in the coming years. However, rather than relying 100% on prescription and over-the-counter medicines, a growing base is looking at natural remedies that include very precise culinary diets and nutrition plans.

The food as medicine trend derives from consumers taking greater personal responsibility for their own health and wellness. Food production and food service industries have responded favorably by providing healthy and sustainable food that has made the healthier food choice the easiest one. For example, Hormel and Nestle have both announced their intent to develop nutritional products that will help their customers manage any personal ailments. AREEA, a biotechnology business, has produced a ready to drink beverage containing an enzyme that detoxes the body from daily pollution effects. In January 2019, Phood Farmacy, a brand committed to food as medicine launches its first virtual kitchen in North Hollywood, California. Phood Farmacy offers a spectrum of exciting yet nutritionally infused meals in addition to specific medical condition-based meal plans. All meals are made from clean ingredients combined with comprehensive nutritional planning.

“Naturally Functional” is a new buzzword behind the success of many foods now known as “Super Foods” such as blueberries, pomegranate, chia seeds and goji berries, to name a few. This endorses consumers search for foods and ingredients that they perceive as naturally healthy and provide essential health benefits.

Food education and mindfulness have become growth trends for 2019, mainly through the accessibility of information, but also through food hubs and online communities such as Food + Tech connect, and the Food Tank. Thus, consumers now understand the nutritional value of natural food ingredients and how each ingredient reacts with themselves specifically; consequently, they are seeking out specific ingredients to assist in their personal wellness and being.

The concept of Food as Medicine will permeate throughout the industry as consumers, therapists, and doctors increasingly appreciate the relationship between food intake and  wellness.

We should expect to see prescriptions of specific diets of foods and recipes that enhance the healing process, elevate immunity, and address specific medical conditions with patients.
Examples of high value foods include:
  • Kelp: Rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iodine – helps keep thyroid levels balanced
  • Shiitake mushrooms: Contains lentinan which may fight cancer and slow tumor growth
  • Moringa: Possesses powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and tissue-protective properties
  • Rooibos tea: Contains antioxidants that can protect against cancer, heart disease and stroke
  • Garlic: Rich in vitamin C, B6 and manganese, supports the heart and reduces blood pressure
  • Ginger: Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties
  • Basil: Contains eugenol, keeps intestines safe 
Many “medicinal” foods such as apple cider vinegar, kefir, and turmeric are now mainstream. This trend is young; many more foods will reach the forefront as consumers seek out natural remedies for conditions like inflammation, fatigue, digestive issues, joint pain, depression and the multitude of other medical conditions that can be supported by a specific mix of foods and natural supplements.

3. Entomophagy, Consumption of insects

As the planet journeys towards a population of 9 billion people, the food industry is driven to unearth new and sustainable food sources. Insects represent a relatively untapped food-type in the west yet are established in diets or snack culture in other parts of the world. For example, in parts of central Africa, around 50% of protein is derived from insects. During the springtime in Ghana, when food is scarce, Ghanaians rely on termites as their main source of protein. Thailand’s popular Jing Leed is deep-fried crickets with a soy based dipping sauce. Thais also love snacking on grasshoppers, crickets and woodworms. In Mexico, chicatanas, or pan-roasted ants with lime, are as mainstream as tacos. Edible insects contain high quality protein, amino acids and vitamins, and even mass consumption has a small impact environmentally. 

Companies like Entocube provide technology to farm insects and process them as an ingredient to the food industry and Bugsolutley produces cricket-based pasta. Presently, crickets are the most common insect type being used in the US. Mainly for the production of cricket flour and protein products. However other insect types are also expected to become available, including caterpillars, different beetle species, and larvae. Even termites are under experimentation.

In the US, Meat Maniac, a Texas based company, provides a broad range of insect based snacks, such as: hot Mealworms, Emperor Scorpions and Earthworm Jerky. The entomophagy trend is still in its infancy in the west, however it will gain traction and expect to see this sector exceed revenues of $1bn by 2025.

4.         TBC and THC infused Products

Cannabis is still illegal at the federal level, and due to its classification as a Schedule 1 drug the amount of research that can be conducted in this sector is limited. However, as cannabis is legalized state by state, the overall industry continues to grow at a profligate rate. This has resulted in the augmentation of cannabis-based edibles, oils, and beverages.

Given the presently unclear federal position on the future legalization of Cannabis, national statistics are unclear, nevertheless we only have to look at the market and product availability to identify the escalating trends in cannabis and cannabis infused products. There is now a swath of CBD infused confectionary, with brands like Camino and Dr Norm. Mixed CBD and THC infused products include: brownies (of course!), mints, cookies, cakes and chocolate bars.

The cannabis infused beverage sector is also anticipated to grow in 2019. Yet beverage market share is predicted to be less impressive until 2020 or 2021. By 2022 this market is estimated to be a $600 million business as larger manufactures tweak and launch their products.

2019 will also experience a new wave of cannabis cafes and lounges in various states. Notably in 2018, West Hollywood approved a range of cannabis cafes and consumption lounges to open in 2019. The City spent 7 months screening over 300 applicants for highly-coveted cannabis licenses, setting a new bar in cannabis recreation and starting a new wave in cannabis tourism.

This post first appeared on The Next Idea : International Restaurant And Food, please read the originial post: here

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The Next Idea Restaurant and Food Forecast for 2019


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