the foodservice Fast Lane

Top 2019 Trends to Help Turbocharge Your Business

Time to step on the gas pedal to keep pace with shifting demographics, accelerating tech advances, and millennial-driven demand for menu innovation and fresh concepts. Want to outpace the competition? There’s a feast of opportunity, but it’s first come, first-served, so set your eyes on these trends and your table for success.

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Number 1

Customization Craze

The build-your-own craze continues to gain momentum among millennials and Gen Zers who step up demand for customization and personalization.1 Ice cream chains like Freezing Moo and 16 Handles scoop up sales with customizable menu options.

trends detail 1

As Gen Zers mature and become more frequent foodservice customers, opportunities open up to tailor offerings to their preferences.2

48%
of millennials surveyed consider ordering fries on top of their burger.3
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trends detail 2

Creative Coatings

Expect millennial demand for new and bold flavor experiences to inspire interesting applications of coatings in the new year. Think coatings on pretzels, crackers and tortilla chips, as well as on chicken, meat, veggies and more.

The global fruits and vegetables coatings market is expected to register a compound annual growth rate of close to 7% through 20224

30%
of consumers find stuffed jalapeños to be an appealing appetizer or small plate5
number 3

Meal Kits Maximized

The expansion of HelloFresh into retail and the sale of Plated illustrate the growing influence of meal kits and the huge potential for the integration of desserts and snacks. Plated now offers dessert recipes and ingredients. Can other meal kit subscription services be far behind?

One of the “channels changing the market view.”6

86%
of consumers would like the ability to add dessert to their meal kit7

49%
of consumers would buy meal kits to prepare at home if their favorite restaurant offered them8
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Number 4

Fast Casual Accelerated

With digital sales from online, mobile and kiosk orders poised to hit $2 billion,9 the meteoric rise of Panera underscores the appetite of young consumers for speed and quality at a reasonable price.


69%
of millennials visit fast casuals10

62%
of Gen Xers

43%
of Baby Boomers


Survey results show the popularity of snack options at both fast casual and fast food restaurants.11

25% of fast casual consumers surveyed favor cookies.11 37% prefer milkshakes.11

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Number 5
trends detail 5

Takeout and Delivery Sales Soar

As self-driving cars and delivery via drones become reality, it becomes increasingly apparent that delivery is shifting into high gear.

44%
of millennials report using food delivery services like GrubHub and UberEats in the past three months, compared with one in five of all U.S. consumers surveyed.12

75%
of consumers say restaurant chains should offer more delivery options.13
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number 6

Rewards Programs Ramp Up

DD Perks and Domino’s Piece of the Pie Rewards are just two examples of a major push by restaurant chains to boost retention with programs that feature app-exclusive deals and perks.

70%
of a restaurant’s revenue stream consists of repeat visits14

80%
less expensive to retain existing customers than acquire new ones14

35%
of consumers say they are more likely to visit restaurants that offer LTOs15
number 7

Extreme Experimentation

Culinary wanderlust is driving millennial demand for flavor adventures to new heights. Watch for exciting new flavor combinations like Sriracha-splashed cheesecake and vanilla ice cream topped with avocado and cucumber bits.

trends detail 7

48%
of millennials will try a new food simply because it sounds interesting17

40%
would like to see more mashups in restaurants18

75%
thought Shack Shake’s Eel Burger limited-time offer was unique19
“When it comes to foods and beverages, millennials are fans of novelty and, in general, love trying new dishes that sound interesting, even if they aren’t sure the items will actually taste good.16
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Number 8

Experiential Dining Extravaganza

Consumer demand for engaging experiences is driving everything from new menu concepts to themed restaurants to interactive food prep. New York City’s Sous Vide Kitchen, where all dishes are prepared by the sous vide method of cooking (one of the top inception-level descriptors for millennials),20 is a “virtual food hall” that allows customers to order from different vendors at one self-service kiosk.

trends detail 8

40% of millennial consumers vs. 28% of the population are experientialists who look beyond just the food to take experiential aspects into account.21

Millennials often have greater loyalty to favorite dining locales. Many restaurants win them over and keep them coming back with unique experiences, from creative new limited-time offers to promotional games.16

Socializing is a key aspect of the Gen Z dining experience22

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trends detail 9

Social Buzz Mega-Boost

The convergence of foodie culture and social media escalates, compelling foodservice operations to redouble efforts to create socially share-worthy dishes with visual impact.

31%
of millennials and 23% of Gen Zers surveyed post photos of their food on social media23

3.5M
food images posted daily on social media24

Gen Z prefers social media for communication more than all other generations25

Number 10

Gen Z Goes A-List

As Gen Z matures and their spending power grows, their influence increases, compelling operators to sharpen their focus on the young generation of consumers foodservice craves.

THE TOP 3
Pinkberry
Ben & Jerry’s
Jamba Juice26
Many of the brands Gen Z customers visit the most often specialize in snacking occasions.

33%
of millennials and 29% of Gen Zers surveyed visit restaurants twice or more per week, indicating younger generations are the heaviest foodservice users.27
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Number 11

Automation Amplified

The growing prevalence of self-service kiosks and order tablets signals the rising interest in automation as a way to control labor costs and boost efficiency.

Operators consider customer ordering (37%), payment options (25%) and loyalty programs (25%) as the most important area of restaurant technology development over the next five years.28

40%
of consumers surveyed find the idea of interactive tabletops highly appealing; they’re also likely to try robot-made menu items.29

65%
of millennials and 61% of Gen Zers surveyed look up restaurant menus online.30
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Number 12

Wellness Wedded to Flavor

Factors related to social welfare are most-loved descriptors among millennials, with humanely raised, probiotic and non-GMO topping the list.20

Millennials insist on a balance between function and flavor while tying personal wellness to the well-being of the planet.

Millennials not only want the item they're purchasing to taste good and be sold for a good price; they are also more likely than the overall population to pay more for premium product attributes like sustainable, organic or all-natural.16

Help Shift Your Sales Into High Gear


Blaze a Trail in the Foodservice Fast Lane with the Top 12 Trends for 2019

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  1. Technomic, Consumer Evolution (Feb.2018), p. 13
  2. Technomic, Generational Consumer Trend Report (2018), p. 15
  3. Freier, Lizzy, On The Menu U.S.—September 2018, Technomic (2018), p.18
  4. Technavio, Global Fruits and Vegetables Coating Market 2018-2022, Business Wire (July 4, 2018). Retrieved from https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180704005165/en/Global-Fruits-Vegetables-Coatings-Market-2018-2022-Increasing
  5. Freier, Lizzy, On The Menu U.S.—September 2018, Technomic (2018), p.10
  6. Technomic, Consumer Evolution (Feb. 2018), p. 27
  7. Nielsen, Understanding the Meal Kit Landscape and Consumer Preferences (Mar. 2017). Retrieved from https://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2017/understanding-the-meal-kit-landscape-and-consumer-preferences.html
  8. Technomic, Consumer Evolution (Feb. 2018), p. 2
  9. Whittem, Sarah, Panera is set to hit $2 billion in digital sales by the end of this year, CNBC (Oct. 30, 2018). Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2018/10/30/panera-is-set-to-hit-2-billion-in-digital-sales-by-the-end-of-2018.html
  10. Technomic, Consumer Evolution (Feb. 2018), p. 6
  11. Technomic, Future of LSR Consumer Trend Report (2018), p. 101
  12. Zarling, Patti, How Big Food can serve the 85% of consumers who don’t know what’s for dinner tonight, Food Dive, (Aug. 22, 2018). Retrieved from https://www.fooddive.com/news/how-big-food-can-serve-the-85-of-consumers-who-dont-know-whats-for-dinne/530654/
  13. AlixPartners, Feeding the global consumer—the race for share of wallet heats up (Nov. 2017), p. 2
  1. Nation’s Restaurant News, Webinar: 5 Steps for Improving Guest Retention with the Mews Tavern, R.I. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.nrn.com/webinars/webinar-5-steps-improving-guest-retention-mews-tavern-ri
  2. Technomic, Planning Program: Consumer Hot Buttons (June 2018), p. 20
  3. Datassential, FoodBytes: Millennials (Feb. 2018), p. 3
  4. Datassential, FoodBytes: Millennials (Feb. 2018), p. 5
  5. Technomic, Planning Program: Consumer Hot Buttons (June 2018), p. 19
  6. Datassential, FoodBytes: Millennials (Feb. 2018), p. 4
  7. Datassential, FoodBytes: Millennials (Feb. 2018), p. 6
  8. Datassential, FoodBytes: Millennials (Feb. 2018), p. 8
  9. Technomic, The Gen Z Selfie (June 2016), p. 5
  10. Technomic, Generational Consumer Trend Report (2018), p. 75
  11. Samit, Jay, “Virtual Food Is Coming to a Menu Near You,” Fortune (May 15, 2018). Retrieved from http://fortune.com/2018/05/15/virtual-food-is-coming-to-a-menu-near-you/
  12. NPD Group, Guide to Gen Z: Debunking the Myths of Our Youngest Generation (June 2016), p. 7
  13. Technomic, The Gen Z Selfie (June 2016), p. 2
  14. Technomic, Generational Consumer Trend Report (2018), p. 44
  15. Tanyeri, Dana, “The Future of Automation in Foodservice,” Foodservice Equipment and Supplies (May 1, 2018). Retrieved from http://www.fesmag.com/features/foodservice-issues/15850-the-future-of-automation-in-foodservice)
  16. Technomic, Planning Program: Consumer Hot Buttons (June 2018), p. 31
  17. Technomic, Generational Consumer Trend Report (2018), p. 67