2018 Food and Beverage Trend Predictions

The 11 hottest food and beverage trends as predicted by pre-eminent consultants

28 September 2017

Veteran international food and restaurant consultants Baum + Whiteman have released their food trend predictions for 2018.

According to B+W, the 11 hottest food and beverage trends in restaurant and hotel dining are:

#1 Plant based foods

Predicted as ‘trend of the year’, we are seeing a massive consumer shift towards ‘plant based’ foods (vegetarian, vegan, alternate protein sources.)  Plant based is tipped as the new organic.

Millenials, Gen X and Zers are embracing plant based diets while still young and sticking with it.  Australia is the third-fastest growing vegan market in the world according to Euromonitor and 11% of Australians are now vegetarian as stated in the latest findings by Roy Morgan.  Google has reported a 90% increase in vegan searches in the past year.

Look out for;

  • Vegan ‘cheese’ more widely available and thanks to fermentation, they come uncannily close to tasting like the real deal
  • Faux or mock “meat” dishes like schnitzels and burgers
  • Some casual dining chains will stop telling vegetarians gratuitously that they can customise standard menu items such as “dropping the cheese, eliminate the sauce, order without bacon, skip the mayo” etc or Millennials and GenXers will abandon these restaurants even more rapidly. So look for some first-rate vegetarian (if not vegan) dishes that don’t sound like deprivation.
  • ‘Clean meat’ and ‘cultured meat’ are likely to be common words in the future as they represent the future of meat consumption – grown from cells rather than the slaughter of animals
  • More vegetarian and vegan only restaurants, including franchises cropping up and receiving substantial investment
  • On the back of the success of vegan ice cream available in supermarkets, outlets will offer more vegan/vegetarian frozen desserts

#2 Next wave cuisines

Philippine cuisine – fragrant, spicy and acidically bracing, using vinegar and citrus.  Watch out for dishes like lumpia, sisig, longganisa, kare-kare.  Google searches for Filipino food doubled since 2012.

Indian fast casual street food – moving beyond the cliche curry towards intrepid fusions such as tandoori chicken poutine, or spicy lamb burritos, or chicken masala pizza.

Upscale Korean restaurants – already mainstream, Korean dining is now moving beyond the karaoke bars and smokey cook-yourself grills to fine dining establishments with premium wine lists.  Look out for nouveau menu items like oysters with radish kimchi and and apple foam.  Straddling the upmarket-trendy casual spectrum locally is Little Miss Korea which offers a la carte as well as table grills.

#3 Artsy Avocado

Hoping to ‘one-up’ the next place, restaurants are getting very creative with avocados, even ditching the toast altogether in favour of some inspired dishes including avocado roses, avocado icing and avocado mousse.   Grill’d healthy burgers has recently added avocado chips to the menu (right).


#4  Tech solutions taking over

Speak up 

No need to junp online – just ask for it.  Google, Amazon and Apple are all innovating (via Siri, Home and Alexa) home ordering with voice activation.

Roll them up

The proliferation of food delivery businesses will be rolled up into a few big players.

Trip Advisor has leaped beyond being a review site by including meal delivery services. Trust TripAdviser’s reviews? Then just click on their new online order button and avoid shuffling between sites.

Snapchat’s new Context Cards let people who follow you to pull up reviews and reserve tables at restaurants you’ve posted. And then seamlessly have Uber or Lyft bring you there. Just as TripAdvisor’s not just for reviews anymore, Snap’s no longer just about pretty pictures.

Facebook experimented with adding a “buy” function to its restaurant web pages earlier this year and now it is partnering with food delivery specialists in the US. And the company is testing the same strategy on Instagram aw sell (which it owns.)

Airbnb will soon allows users to make restaurant reservations through its app and website.  It is currently available in 16 US cities and for a surcharge, you can secure a table at places that are “fully booked.”

#5 Going Cashless

There are now restaurants who have stopped accepting cash altogether, scrapping the cash register for good. Going cashless may increase credit card expenses for restaurants but saves running to the bank for deposits or change. It also makes balancing the books and protecting against theft easier. In China, smartphones and QR codes have become the medium of exchange.

#6 Flavour injections

This is quite literally a syringe filled with face-smacking flavour like srirarcha mayonnaise or jelly-swirled nutella.  This trend started in upmarket establishments but has well and truly gone mainstream.

#7 What’s next for fast-casual restaurants

“Fast casual” sits somewhere between fast food restaurants and casual dining.  Think Grill’d or Neil Perry’s Burger Project

They are picking and choosing the best of both worlds to appeal to a wider audience.  While adding order and pay kiosks and drive thru facilities to to speed service, they are upgrading lighting, decor and interior design to entice evening dining.  They are even putting in-store dining on real plates.

They are also offering beer, wine and even cocktails and even contemplating actual bars moving towards the world of restaurants.

#8 One item (concept) restaurants

Running a restaurant is hard going so it’s always surprising when odd-ball restaurant concepts crop up, let along proliferate.  Take the all-cream cheese restaurant in NYC, the Marshmallow cafe in Chicago or Amsterdam’s first all-Avocado restaurant.

You would think that these would surely be a one-off but Yang’s Braised Chicken Rice now has 6000 franchises worldwide for what is a one-dish wonder.  There are now 7 New York Meatball shop’s and plenty of imitations around too.

The danger with an ‘all eggs in one basket’ approach is the inevitable menu expansion from others looking to also capitalise from ‘on trend’ foods.  So where does that leave us?  Someone just opened a peanut butter bar in Sydney suggesting there is plenty of unbounded optimism.

#9 Ramen without the soup

You said what? Ramen was already trendy but now its even trendier without the soup.  Its called Mazemen (right) which translates to mixed noodles.  It’s a bowl with amodest amount of strongly flavoured sauce instead of the broth and lots of both traditional and off-beat toppings.  While the Japanese toppings are the safest bet, we are seeing bacon, eggs, beets, mustard greens, cured salmon, camembert, parmesan, tahini…

The dish should have a real kick to it and its about the noodles, not the broth.

#10 Paying with your face

Facial recognition is creeping into restaurants.  Creepy but also convenient.

“Fries with that?” is just kid stuff compared with how ordering and intelligent upselling at fast food and fast-casual restaurants might be streamlined.

Douwe Egberts, the global coffee company installed an airport coffee machine with a sensor that recognised when passers-by were yawning. If so, the machine immediately dispensed a free cup of coffee.

Will consumers sacrifice privacy for speed? We’ll bet they will.

#11 Getting sloshed on a slushie

Restaurants are boozing up their ice creams and desserts.

NY’s Tipsy Scoop is hand-dipping cones of dark chocolate whiskey, maple pecan bourbon, and cake batter vodka martini. Aldi in the UK sells gin-and-tonic popsicles containing about 11% alcohol and Haagen-Dazs recently launched boozed-up ice cream pints; vodka-key lime, whisky-chocolate truffle but only in Canada.


To finish out the report Baum + Whiteman listed the buzzwords to look out for next year.  These included;

multi-grain slow rise pizza dough, vegetable pizza crusts,new uses for Churros, avocado and nitro desserts, too many meal kit companies losing too much money, ancient grains (read about Kernza), trendy again schnitzel, burgers “blended” with mushrooms, soy or other additives to cut down on meat consumption, virtual restaurants, individual take way portions of Instagrammable desserts.


Download the Baum + Whiteman 2018 trend prediction report.


Latest Blog Post

Latest Projects – Northern Territory Government

We combine our industry expertise, and clear, sensible thinking to help government agencies gain new perspectives and make informed choices that achieve measurable results.  Find out about Rigani’s latest government projects in market presently. Northern Territory Fire Rescue Service | One Rewarding Career Our recent One Rewarding Career digital recruitment campaign for the Northern Territory […]