Feasting Forward: 3 Foodservice Trends to Watch in 2024

Our work within Padilla’s Food + Beverage sector requires us to stay ahead of trends in foodservice for both our clients and the chefs they partner with. One thing we know for sure is that the past three years have brought significant changes to how we enjoy dining out. Although more consumers are going to restaurants every day, there are plenty of challenges the industry is still facing – inflation, rising food and labor costs, and staffing shortages among them. What does this mean for the foodservice industry in 2024?  

1. Craveable Experiences: The pandemic left consumers deprived of the unique moments that their favorite restaurants provided. Consumers will be driven to eat out more often if they know they’ll have a craveable experience that can’t be replicated at home. They look to dine out for the convenience and enjoyment of meals they don’t prepare themselves (new ingredients, global cuisines). Businesses can take advantage of this by creating niche dining experiences. We have already seen restaurants utilizing this through tableside bar service, for example, creating a more intimate and tailored beverage experience for diners. More and more chefs are being hosted at restaurants for collaborations, creating exclusive pop-up and private dinners. We’ve seen LEV host site-specific culinary experiences. Whether on a NYC sidewalk or in someone’s home, the food changes to fit the setting, creating a dynamic, creative and Instagram-worthy dining experience. The team at SobreMasa recently hosted a bake sale with a guest chef, offering a one-day, drool-worthy experience. (2024 Foodservice Forecast | Datassential Simply Smarter Webinar Series)

2. Less is More: Due to rising operational costs and labor shortages, we can expect to see restaurants continue to downsize the number of dishes on the menu and therefore the number of ingredients needed day-to-day. That does not mean the quality of the products will be lessened. In fact, customers can expect restaurants to use more premium products to create the unique experiences they know their customers want. Restaurant partners, Grotto and La Griglia, transitioned from a larger menu to a more curated offering featuring promotions with premium brands like our client Prosciutto di Parma [case study], resulting in three new limited-time dishes. Increasingly, restaurants will purchase less, but more high-quality ingredients, leading to premium menu items and exclusive dining experiences. (2024 Foodservice Forecast | Datassential Simply Smarter Webinar Series)

3. The Rise of AI: Quick service restaurants have already started utilizing AI in back-of-house operations for tasks such as answering phones and order recommendations. AI can support other operational tasks such as reporting and forecasting. Several restaurants use AI generated apps, like BackBar, to monitor their bar inventory. AI monitoring tools are also being used in kitchens for food temperature monitoring in walk-in refrigerators.  In the coming years, we can expect to see an increase in the number of foodservice operations employ AI similarly to help mitigate labor costs. (The Future of AI and the Food Industry – The Food Institute).

Trend forecasting and interpreting these trends for implementation in foodservice programs is a key part of our work within the Padilla Food + Beverage practice. We help our clients stay ahead of trends to deliver value to their stakeholders, from hosting media dinners at what’s soon-to-be the hottest new restaurant to conceptualizing fresh and captivating B2C messaging. This understanding allows us to develop turnkey activations for the ultimate craveable experience for our clients’ audiences.

Interested in learning more or want to ideate about how we can help you get ahead in foodservice channels? Connect with Us.

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