2021 Food Trends Every Restaurant Should Know

With only a few precious weeks left in 2020, restaurants everywhere are gearing up for the new trends and changes that are on the horizon in the new year. With food delivery leading the charge in how pandemic-fatigued consumers consume their meals, having a handle on the 2021 food trends could be the difference between feast or famine. Keep reading to discover what diners are craving and how chefs are planning to meet demand in the new year.

Comfort Food

It should come as no surprise that after nearly an entire year into a pandemic, consumers everywhere are craving comfort. Food has forever made it’s way into our hearts straight through our bellies by warming us up during difficult times. And if 2020 wasn’t a difficult time, then we don’t know what is.

However, as Milennials begin to share some of the consumer buying power with the growing Gen Z generation, “comfort food” has begun to take a new face. Milennials might love a good meatloaf or mac-n-cheese but Gen Z comfort food looks a little more diverse. Expanding from the traditional American comforts into international goodies like ramen, tacos and other global fare that are plant-based and encouraging to one’s health.

2021 food trends

Ramen is just one of the comfort foods hailed by Gen Z as better than baked Mac and Cheese.

Plant-based options are springing to life everywhere as the veggie-forward movement continues to evolve. McDonald’s is joining the ranks of Dunkin’ Donuts and Burger King by releasing their “McPlant Burger” in the upcoming year.

Flavors to Know 

As older flavors and cuisines begin to phase out, we have several new opportunities for our palettes to explore in the upcoming 2021 food trends. According to Datassentials, flavors to keep on your radar include but aren’t limited to: 

  1. Fermented Honey – The fermentation process will yield a tangy flavor to the traditional sweetness found in honey. Additional antimicrobial benefits are a plus here too.
  2. Chicory Root- A great source of pre-biotic fiber and also lush with flavor.
  3. Sudachi- A Japanese fruit with a citrus-like profile is expected to make a regular appearance in not only cocktails but as a sauce contributor in Asian-Inspired dishes.
  4. Produce Hybrids- Rose strawberries and Pink Pineapple are just a few of the futuristic options coming through produce manufacturers.
  5. Carob- this chocolate-like substance is not only a great replacement for chocolate, but has begun to lend a cocoa-esque flavor to molasses and mixed drinks.
  6. Honeysuckle- An old flavor made new again. Utilized for it’s floral notes, honeysuckle is now being combined with elderflower and rose.
  7. Guisada- Traditionally prepared using beef, this style is now being applied to plant-based proteins, poultry and even seafood.

If you didn’t know, now you know. 2021 food trends appear to be a promising way to keep our tastebuds on their toes (we’ll just act like that’s a thing) while providing comfort and warmth through the upcoming winter months.

Curious about how data is collected to determine consumer trends for restaurants? Want to know what your diners are craving from your menu? SmartMenus uses unique menu data to connect you with your diner. Want to see SmartMenus in action? Contact us today. 

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