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New Food Trends for Restaurants to Follow in 2021

Kit Jenkin
27 May 2021

Food tastes change all the time. The food trends of the 1980s and 1990s are nothing like those of the 2000s and the 2010s. So, it makes sense that the 2020s will have their style and quirks to reflect the here and now.  

2021 has introduced a host of new trends that will inform how the coming culinary years will be shaped, from basic changes to pizza trends to bigger changes around how restaurants can function in a post-Covid era. With the pandemic changing most aspects of our lives, from work and leisure to how we prepare and consume our food, 2021 is bound to serve up many new food innovations. 

Keep reading to find out more about the latest food trends in 2021.

Meal kits

Meal kits are a very simple yet intriguing idea. When most people think of home delivery of food, they think of delivery pizza or a Whole Foods truck delivering their groceries. 

Meal kits are the middle ground between a fully cooked meal delivered to your door and a trunk full of groceries. Instead of these two extremes, meal kit companies send you tailored deliveries designed to let you cook your meal, usually with a set of instructions. 

Let’s say you’re having a night in. You don’t have any food in the house, but you also don’t have the cash for takeout, and you have a craving for some spaghetti bolognese. 

The solution? A spaghetti bolognese meal kit.

A spaghetti bolognese meal kit would include everything you’d need to make your meal in a single package: onions, canned tomatoes, carrots, minced beef, olive oil, dried pasta, and a set of instructions on how to make the sauce and cook the pasta. 

Meal kits exploded in popularity during the pandemic. People wanted to minimize their exposure when buying food while still indulging in one of the few creative activities they could do: cooking.

Meal kit companies like Home Chef, Blue Apron, and Hello Fresh have made their mark on the industry. If habits hold, meal kits could be a trend that outlasts 2021 and into the future. 

Could meal kits be a marketable product for your restaurant?

Video cooking classes

This one’s a no-brainer. During the pandemic, industries of all kinds had to embrace digital infrastructure to get their products and services to market. This was no different for people doing cooking classes.

Instructors who were able to take advantage of digital video streaming platforms could reach a potentially wider audience. Plus, with so many people isolated in their homes, video cooking classes were an easy way to create a sense of community and shared experience.  

There are already loads of restaurants where chefs are piping themselves into people’s homes to display meals that people can lovingly slave over.

Lab-grown meat

Lab-grown meat has been the next big thing for a while now, but 2021 could be its breakout year. The product is gaining popularity because of environmental and ethical issues of mass production of meat.

If the world’s nations are going to meet their climate targets, rich countries will have to limit their consumption of meat. Raising livestock is incredibly CO2 intensive, with meat and dairy production accounting for 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions. If energy consumption issues during production can be solved, lab-grown meat could greatly reduce overall emissions. 

Lab-grown meats are expected to be sold on the mass market soon. Production costs are falling fast and some studies have shown that most meat on the market in North America will not come from slaughtered animals by 2040. Plus, most consumers seem willing to give lab-grown meat a go, with over 80% of people surveyed in one study is open to the idea of buying and eating the product. 

Some restaurants are already using lab-grown meats in their menus. Where will your meat becoming form in the future?

Vertical farming

Most farming takes place on flat land. Vertical farming turns that notion on its head.

Vertical farms are usually indoor farms that grow foods in vertically stacked layers. They usually incorporate controlled-environment techniques to optimize production and use non-soil-based growing techniques like aeroponics and aquaponics. These techniques, combined with high-tech applications like specialised LED lighting, have sometimes allowed for 10x the normal crop yield.  

Vertical farming has been around for a while, but indoor and vertical farms were called on to plug gaps in food supply chains during the pandemic like never before. As a result, vertical farms are expected to become a staple in future supply chains. One estimate forecasts that vertical farming will be valued at $1.36 billion by 2027.

The next time you put in an order for vegetables, it might come from a vertical farm.

Plant-based foods

There seem to be no limits to the things vegetables can do. Vegetables have been repurposed to provide replacement protein for beef and chicken, but vegetables are taking on a whole new dimension in 2021.

Plant-based foods are providing alternatives to all sorts of food, from seafood, bacon, eggs, chicken, and more. 

Plant-based foods are becoming more and more accepted and commercially viable alternatives to meat products. And with lots of plant-based food companies growing faster and faster, 2021 could be the year where plant-based foods begin to take on mainstream credibility their advocates could only dream of a few years ago. 

If your customers have a soft spot for plant-based foods, you might want to incorporate some into your menu.

Prescription food

Ask any doctor or nutritionist, and they’ll tell you that the food you consume has a massive impact on your health. Today, many people are turning to new types of food to help them treat particular health conditions.

In 2020, sales of foods and beverages that help control hypertension grew 11%. Similar products that help weight control grew 11%. Diabetes care products climbed by 14%, according to an innovation report published by IRI.

The above has been coupled with the rise in popularity of foods with high vitamin and mineral content that help a variety of health conditions, such as brain function, cholesterol management, hydration, and other health conditions. These ‘superfoods’ include foods like blueberries, green tea, spinach, kale, elderberry, and garlic.

Are there popular superfoods you can incorporate into your menu?

Mental health cooking

The popularity of foods that help with physical health is closely tied with the popularity of foods that help with mental health. 

With the pandemic highlighting the importance of maintaining mental health, many people are looking at ways to maximise the intake of nutrients with positive mental health effects

For instance, turmeric, the spice widely used in South and Southeast Asian cooking, has been shown to have particularly strong anti-inflammatory properties that can help prevent anxiety and depression. 

Like salmon and trout, oily fish are also incredibly popular as a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. There is also a renewed emphasis on incorporating as much organic and raw foods into diets to boost vitamin and mineral levels, including commonly cited foods like spinach, nuts, legumes, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, and more. 

What are the ways that you can overhaul your menu to help your customers’ mental health?

Tik-Tok influencers

Instagram used to be the foodie’s social media platform of choice. That may be changing.

The increased popularity of Tik-Tok is drawing foodie attention away from Instagram. The platform allows users to share clips of themselves following recipes or demonstrating cooking techniques that are best delivered in short, quick bursts. 

The platform has created dozens of new social media stars that are getting people hooked on their visually stunning creations. 

If you’re looking for the latest trends for your restaurant to follow or emulate, check out Tik-Tok. It’s a treasure trove of information and new ideas that may inspire your next breakout menu item. 

Keep up with the times with a new point of sale system

You’re a savvy restaurant owner who knows that success in the industry means keeping up with the times. As technology improves and tastes change, you need equipment that will keep your brand relevant. 

Stay competitive in your industry with a new Epos Now point of sale system for your restaurant. Epos Now is the only brand trusted by retail and hospitality businesses all over the world to handle their ordering and payments systems. 

With Epos Now, you can streamline service, enhance communication, and take the complexity out of taking your orders. 

  • Track time-at-table to boost table turnover
  • Reduce your error rate when taking orders with automated ordering
  • Manage and change your floor plans
  • Streamline back of house operations with a comprehensive Kitchen Display System
  • Group by course and order type to speed up preparation and reduce customer wait times

Contact Epos Now to find out more about our systems.