2021 Foodservice Trends
While the effects of the COVID lockdown on the U.S. foodservice industry cannot be overstated, with Mintel estimating sales unlikely to recover to pre-pandemic levels until 2023, restaurant sales are expected to return to positive growth (6.3%) this year.1 Many foodservice players have been using this time to assess their customers’ new needs, especially the types of foods and experiences they’re looking for, with some exciting results.
Here’s a look at some of the foodservice menu trends happening right now:
1. Delivery Dominates
The pandemic has made the delivery of everything from groceries to clothes to office supplies a new habit and expectation for many consumers. Restaurant delivery is no exception. Some recent innovations in this area include restaurants expanding into food trucks, new apps with customized menu suggestions for delivery orders, and hiring local musicians as delivery drivers who offer live performances for an extra fee. Catering is another area to watch, with 52% of restaurant consumers expressing an interest in catered restaurant meals for social gatherings.2
2. Exploring Global Cuisines While Stuck at Home
Many consumers are using ethnic and regional restaurant meals as a way to explore new cultures from home and enjoy a taste adventure, particularly for dishes they don’t know how to cook for themselves. This interest is also expanding into less well-known cuisines (for example, Peruvian, Ethiopian, and Malaysian), with a focus on authenticity. Consumers can also participate in virtual chef-led classes and tastings, which allows them to master a new skill, feel a sense of belonging, and share a meal with others.