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4 food and consumer trends to watch

RH associate editor shares what’s trending in the restaurant world

Joanna.jpg 1. We need to entertain them, not just feed them.

Customers are not just content to go out to a sit-down dinner or order drinks at a standard bar anymore: they expect to experience other social activities when they’re out for the evening too, from bowling to board games and organized social events.

Eatertainment is nothing new, but the activity-centric dining segment has gone beyond the “arcade and pizza” format à la Chuck E. Cheese to appeal to adults looking for a more interactive experience.  

According to a nightlife study from hospitality platform SevenRooms commissioned through third-party research firm, YouGov, “eatertainment” is on the rise: nearly one in three Americans prefers to go out to a bar that offers food, drinks, and activities all in one place, and 24% of Americans surveyed wished that there were more “eatertainment” venues nearby them.

Toms Urban_exterior_2018_c.jpgThree expanding “eatertainment” concepts:

  • Punch Bowl Social — An 18-unit (and growing) entertainment complex with food, multiple bars, ping pong, bowling, arcade games, shuffleboard and more, depending on the location.
  • Tom’s Urban — A sports bar/restaurant from Smashburger co-founder Tom Ryan where each restaurant has more screens playing sports than wall space.
  • Pinstripes Inc. — A 10-unit restaurant known for its outdoor fire pit, bowling and bocce

2. One plant-based patty is taking the lead.

The rise of the next-generation vegan burger has been impossible to ignore, with the two biggest names — Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger — taking the lion’s share of the plant-based trend so far.

Carl_s_Jr._Beyond_Famous_Star_Burger.jpgBut which big brand name has come out on top? According to consumer intelligence firm Gravy Analytics, although the meat-alternative market did not appear to make a discernible dent in overall restaurant performance, restaurants serving Impossible Burger (including Burger King and Applebee’s) appeared to outperform restaurants that serve Beyond Burger (including Carl’s Jr. and TGI Friday’s) in total foot traffic.

Specifically, foot traffic to restaurants serving Impossible Burger was down 3% from 2018 to 2019, while foot traffic to restaurants serving Beyond Burger was down 16% from 2018 to 2019. 

“Impossible Burger's restaurant-first approach may have also helped make their burger an especially hot commodity,” Gravy Analytics CEO Jeff White said. “Folks have been able to buy Beyond Meat products in stores for some time, but the Impossible Burger is available only in restaurants and won't reach the grocery aisle until later this year.”  

impossible_burger.jpg3. The food-safety testing market is set to explode by 2023

As consumers become more aware of what’s in their lunch and reports of foodborne-illness outbreaks are reported more in the media, food safety has become paramount. 

GettyImages-627521116.jpgA report published by B2B research company MarketsandMarkets found that the food-safety testing market is estimated to grow from $17 billion in 2018 to $24.6 billion by 2023, with safety testing related to genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, being the fastest growing market of food-safety tests.

“This [growth] is attributed to the growth in demand for convenience and packaged food products, an increase in outbreaks of chemical contamination in food-processing industries, and the rise in consumer awareness about food safety,” the report said.

The types of food that will see the most growth in food-safety testing include meat, poultry, and seafood products, due to fear of contamination during processing, packaging and storing. Europe is expected to have the greatest market share of food-safety testing products by 2023.

4. Customers are wary of large-scale food production.

Despite the rise in popularity of meat alternatives, the new generation of vegan burgers might not be the biggest threat to the dairy and meat industries, which are on the decline. Could overall distrust of the meat and dairy industries impact sales of animal products even more?

According to the “Food & Technology 2019: From Plant-based to Lab-grown” report from industry market research group The Hartman Group, consumers see plant-based burgers as no different or better than traditional meat or dairy when it comes to producing  food that’s all-natural, minimally processed, healthy, good for the environment and animal-friendly.

Are consumers just becoming jaded?

“Factory farming and its abuses have made consumers question the ethics of eating animal products; popular documentaries have eroded trust in the meat/dairy industries,” said Laurie Demeritt, CEO of The Hartman Group in a statement. “The upside for the industries is that for the vast majority of consumers, meat and dairy still represent highly symbolic, routine and pleasurable categories.”

Contact Joanna Fantozzi at [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter: @JoannaFantozzi

TAGS: Food Trends
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