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Foodservice Trends to Watch for 2023

Flavor & The Menu magazine does a wonderful trend forecasting issue every year written by Katie Ayoub, and again this year I was honored to be among the panel of experts they chose to participate for their Top 10 Trends 2023!

Here are 4 quotes of mine that they selected for the various trends in this issue, as well as some additional context around why I think they’re important for 2023!

Asian Breakfast - Flavors from this region energize the morning daypart

"High-volume operators will want to continue to provide familiar flavors or forms with a twist. Start with your most popular platforms and add the flavors in an approachable way. One big opportunity here is with the Chinese breakfast staple of jianbing. In Shanghai, it is an affordable street food that is made to order with a mung bean crepe, cracked eggs, a sauce like hoisin, scallions, and then a crispy wonton is added before it’s wrapped up like an open-end burrito. This combination of familiar flavors and portability has the opportunity to be a popular option for consumers today."

Global flavors have long been on the rise in foodservice and it shows no sign of stopping. With breakfast occasions declining across foodservice due to the lower commuting traffic after the pandemic, it's important to offer innovative and unique items to get them in the door. Asian flavors at breakfast are a great way to do this, and the article mentions a variety of other dishes from restaurants around the country including one of my favorites - rice bowls. Additionally, many global cuisines are naturally plant forward, so with the growth of that trend more global flavors hit the spotlight, including in breakfast.

Afternoon Delight - Chefs and trend analysts weigh in on the drivers and menu opportunities with shoulder hours

"This is an opportunity for larger players to finally capitalize on the afternoon daypart, now that consumer mindset has shifted and traffic patterns have evolved."

Long before the pandemic, many restaurants and chains have tried to figure out how to bridge the divide between dayparts. Menu is one way, adding a category or platform that entices customers, and promotion is another, like a 2pm-5pm beverage happy hour. You can even see this in QSR with beverage happy hour promotions for $0.99. The afternoon can mean different things to different operators. For example, the afternoon snack time period, roughly 11am-3pm is especially important to breakfast led locations like Starbucks and Dunkin’ as they look to capitalize on consumers for beverage led occasions, where food can be an add on – and having the right type of add on. The food needs to not only compliment the beverage, be the right portion size for consumers to say yes to it. Or if the beverage is filling enough on its own, like a smoothie, that can satisfy the need.

Brown Butter - A profound flavor builder extends reach

"From its use in coffee to butter boards, butter itself is ripe for innovation, so bringing brown butter into existing categories as a flavor or line extension just makes sense. Imagine a brown butter-blended shake or brown butter in an ice cream base with a burnt caramel cookie mix in. Flavored butters are also popping up on burgers, and a brown butter would be a fantastic complement to the right burger build. Brown butter also tastes great as a sweetened coffee syrup, complementing the coffee and cream or non-dairy “milk” richness."

Butter is just so fun to talk about! I don't have much to add to above other than I'd emphasize that we'll see this trend lean into beverages over time.

True Colors - Naturally derived colors make a splash

"With the increased prevalence of online ordering, now—more than ever—color can be a way to attract consumers."

High volume concepts typically use visuals to help consumers quickly understand a product or product line. Any new platform – say a line of beverages - should show varied colors to complement the diverse flavor offering. Additionally, bowls or salads are a great way to stack ingredients in a clock-like fashion to showcase the beauty of the ingredients. Imagine line of colorful lattes – mahogany brown traditional espresso (why not with brown butter!), rich verdant green matcha latte, a golden turmeric latte and a robust red beet chai latte.

Please be sure to dive into other sections of the Flavor & the Menu Top 10 Trends 2023 issue with insights and advice from many great minds in the restaurant industry, you’re sure to learn something new to apply to your business in 2023!


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