Food and Beverage Trends for 2018

Looking to the year ahead, we are all eagerly anticipating the new food and beverage trends that will emerge. Here’s a few that we’re placing our bets on.

Experiential Catering

There’s been an emphasis on the desire for experiential outings, whether in travel, food or shopping. As far as food and beverage, in 2018 there will be more businesses capitalizing on this, showing how food is made before it reaches the customer. The Drake Hotel in Toronto already offers an opportunity to watch your pasta become dough, then noodles and then get cooked in a cheese bowl. You read that right—a cheese bowl.

Classic Remodel

Putting a spin on nostalgic dishes such as veggie crudite on ice with sunflower seed hummus and hemp oil dip, or vegan twists on comfort classics, including chickpea meatloaf and cauliflower mac ‘n’ cheese, is trendy as the desire for comfort food peaks.

Barbecue Re-dos

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Expect mashups of cultures and meats that make barbecue anything but basic. Look for Korean, Jamaican and Caribbean influences in classic wings and ribs.

Going on the ’Gram

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The better the food, the better the Instagram photo? Probably. While 2017 was the year of unicorn-themed food, in 2018 chefs will tap even deeper into the power of visually appealing food that can double as marketing images on social media. Color was all the rage in 2017, but texture is predicted to be the most photo-worthy trend of 2018. Think chewy beverages, and even more cotton-candy-fluff-topped treats.

Nontraditional Tacos

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Expect your tacos to get loco fillings this year by pulling from many international influences. Keep an eye out for Korean kalbi, fried Italian peppers, Mediterranean lamb, harissa and Japanese uni seaweed in your next taco.

Food Walls

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Food walls, another Instagram-friendly trend, will be appearing all over. Eatertainment recently offered a rosy ombre macaron peg wall, with vanilla, rose, cotton candy, grapefruit cayenne and Peruvian chocolate flavors.

Nostalgia 2.0

Kid-like wonder meets adult taste buds in this trend of rebooting childhood classics such as ice cream, with booze infusions. And as the ’90s just keep coming back, expect food infused with Pop Rocks and Gushers-inspired cocktails making a #phat comeback.

Chicken Not so Little

Arguably the most versatile meat of all, chicken will find itself taking center stage in 2018, showing up in affordable fried chicken sandwiches, at food trucks and in fancy dishes.

Fine Casual Dining

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This Shake Shack-inspired trend shows no signs of going anywhere any time soon. The New York City-based restaurant chain is one of the leaders in the ongoing East versus West competition also involving In-N-Out Burger, based in Irving, California. People are demanding the high quality and low price that both spots provide. Health food chain Amy’s even opened a healthy fast-food restaurant in Southern California earlier this year to get in on the game.

Creative Food Repurposing

With the documentary Wasted! detailing just how much food in wasted unnecessarily each year—and how half of America is going hungry—restaurants and caterers are realizing they need to find new ways to use all of the produce they have. Expect stems, shells and leaves to pop up creatively in dishes in 2018.

Vegetable Entrees/Plant-based Meals

They continue to spread as the vegan population rises. It began with the Impossible Burger, a meatless burger that still looks and tastes like meat. With many more vegan products hitting shelves in 2017, the plant-based diet became less of a fad and more of a staying concept. Expect plant-based meals to become more widespread in 2018.

Pizza

Yeah, pizza is in fact a trend for 2018. Specifically, and coinciding with The Motor City’s growing millennial population, Detroit-style pizza is set to take off in 2018.

High-end, Alcohol-free Drinks

Call it the La Croix affect, but there is a growing desire for high-end drinks, minus the booze. Flavors, bubbles and booze-free drinks are ready and waiting to be sipped to your heart’s content.

Personalization

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Meal kits took off in 2017, as they gave consumers hassle-free meals each week for a set price. Blue Apron includes eight meals each week, and customers can pick the three they like to have delivered that week. Blue Apron always has at least three vegetarian options, and provides an optional wine subscription with your box. Customers crave that sense of things made just for them, so watch for personalization to continue to rise in 2018.

One-Item Restaurants

They saw overwhelming success in 2018, from bacon-centric spots to strictly fro-yo joints. Expect more item-specific places to open in 2018. Unicorn cafes and kitten cafes have already proved successful as well, so who knows what’s next?

East Indian Street Food

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 We’re excited about this one. Look out for curry fries, tandoori chicken on a stick and more as Indian food works its way out of restaurants and homes, and onto city streets.