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Plant-based proteins, eco-conscious packaging top 2020 industry trends

The National Restaurant Association, in partnership with Technomic, reveals the year’s biggest menu and foodservice game-changers.
Photograph: Shutterstock

Plant-based proteins and eco-friendly packaging will have the foodservice industry buzzing in 2020, according to the National Restaurant Association’s annual What’s Hot Culinary Forecast.

The survey, conducted in partnership with Restaurant Business sister company Technomic, surveyed more than 600 members of the American Culinary Federation, asking them to rate how “hot” 133 menu items and other foodservice concepts would be in 2020.

Plant-based meat alternatives have made their mark on menus across the restaurant industry, from large chains to independent operations. In 2020, nonmeat proteins will “take off in response to increased consumer demand,” the survey found.

Eco-friendly packaging received the highest ranking of any item surveyed, given the ever-growing demand for off-premise options. Consumers are looking for environmentally conscious packaging, and local and state regulations are forcing restaurants into making more sustainable choices.

2020’s hottest produce item? Mushrooms. The multipurpose vegetable, which is popular in specialty burger blends, outranked items such as caulilini (baby cauliflower) and raabs such as arugula, turnip and collard greens.

Here are the top 10 items from the 2020 What’s Hot Culinary Forecast:

  1. Eco-friendly packaging
  2. Plant-based proteins
  3. Delivery-friendly menu items
  4. Healthy bowls
  5. Scratch-made
  6. Creativity with catering
  7. Revamped classic cocktails
  8. Stress relievers
  9. Specialty burger blends
  10. Unique beef and pork cuts

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