Top 5 Food Service Industry Trends for 2023
As the oven door closes on 2022, we’re already looking at the top food service industry trends for next year. Whether it’s a focus on plant-based menus or ethical eating, the key USPs for chefs, restaurant owners and food and beverage outlets will continue evolving as we enter a New Year.
With over 25 years of experience as one of the UAE’s leading food and beverage suppliers, Chef Middle East’s analysis experts are no strangers to predicting future trends. The extensive collection of meat, seafood, dairy, beverages and pastry products supplied by Chef Middle East forms the basis of countless restaurants’ menus across the UAE, Oman and Qatar.
We have successfully predicted food and beverage industry trends over the past few years and helped our customers to adapt and get ahead of the curve, such as the boom in Asian cuisine and the shift towards more artisanal dairy produce.
So, what is coming up in 2023? Should we be fine-tuning our menus towards affordable nutrition, or will the continuing emphasis on the ‘story’ of our food take centre stage? Or will the redefinition of what constitutes ‘value for money’ continue to drive the market in a specific direction?
Chefs across the region already know what direction their individual culinary creations will take in the next 12 months. We’ll take a quick look at what we think are the five food and beverage industry trends for the coming year and how they will influence buying decisions within the sector.
Redefining value – Reselling the sizzle
The biggest food and beverage industry trend will continue to be redefining value. This isn’t just about cost but about the ethics and core values behind a brand. Key to any consumer is trust – they want to know that the brand is using ethically-produced products with one eye very much on sustainability.
The biggest obstacle to this is, of course, cost. With rising food prices across the globe, food industry experts predict that in 2023, outlets will have to become more creative to ensure they maintain consumer loyalty without compromising the values that consumers place so much emphasis upon.
A significant element of that will be sustainability, which we will look at in a moment. But in general, redefining value and bringing a spotlight on the intrinsic value perceived by the customer will remain at the forefront of industry considerations throughout the next 12 months.
Plant-based menus – is meat being replaced?
With giant outlets such as McDonald’s now actively embracing plant-based alternatives to their meat-focused menus, the focus on replacing meat with plant-based options will be a big food service industry trend for 2023. This opens the potential for a whole new emphasis on catering to a different sector of the market.
Although, we haven’t quite got to the stage of replacing meat just yet. While veganism and vegetarianism are growing in popularity, plenty of consumers still want the flavour and texture of meat-based dishes.
However, we know that the plant-based sector’s growth demands that we move with the times. So, we expect to see a raft of new plant-based alternatives coming onstream throughout 2023, as well as vegan dairy options.
Farm-to-plate – the origins of a restaurant meal
Over the past few years, a big food and beverage industry trend has been the growing interest in the origins and the ‘journey’ of the food and drinks consumers are served. They have become increasingly interested not just in the flavour of their food but its back story, including how it was produced, what farming methods are used, and whether they are regenerative or exploitative.
Not only is the food’s journey of interest to consumers, but so are the working conditions of those who produce it. The welfare of agricultural workers is increasingly important to a global marketplace, where exploitative production techniques can now damage a brand beyond repair.
One of the critical factors for 2023 will be greater transparency regarding the ethical journey of produce and not just how many food miles a product has clocked up before it lands on a consumer’s plate.
Affordable nutrition – delivering delicious food for less
There is no avoiding the issue – cost will be a defining factor for decision-making throughout 2023. Food service industry trends always talk about costs, but a noticeable rise in the cost of ingredients caused by things such as a shortage of sunflower oil and grain from Ukraine has had a much more significant impact this time around. Consequently, chefs, restaurant owners, and food and beverage suppliers will be looking to reduce those increases as much as possible.
This may lead to a push towards simpler, more traditional dishes that require fewer luxury ingredients. This can be marketed as not just a cheaper option but a more nutritionally balanced and environmentally friendly one.
The option of maintaining the current level of costs may be impractical. Restaurants will either pass higher costs onto their customers (not a popular choice with diners) or re-evaluate their expenditure and focus more on simpler, more cost-effective ingredients that are still sustainably sourced and still deliver the value consumers are looking for.
A redefined market – Embracing the TikTok generation
Finally, let’s take a quick look at the generational question. Gen-Y and Gen-Z consumers are now the industry’s primary target audience. They pay close attention to the directional advice of ‘influencers’ across social media channels such as TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram. Food is part of a lifestyle package, which considerably influences what younger customers look for when they book a table at a restaurant or order online.
This can be a very positive driving influence within the industry in general. The TikTok generation is proactively involved and more than willing to try new things. They respond well to positive brand engagement and push the industry in certain directions, such as the plant-based alternatives we discussed earlier. Considering younger customers who emphasize brand awareness in every aspect of their lives, including eating and drinking, will play a key role in how the industry progresses throughout 2023 and beyond.
To find out more about a range of wholesale culinary ingredients that can create new, exciting and ‘Instaworthy’ dishes, check out our wholesale culinary selection.
Conclusion – a positive year ahead
At Chef Middle East, we have a very positive approach to embracing new food and beverage industry trends. We have found that by being open to ideas, new concepts, and new ways of sourcing and supplying wholesale ingredients, we can respond positively to these nuanced shifts within the market.
This, in turn, ensures that our clients – the chefs, restaurant owners and food and beverage providers of the region – can engage with their customers to deliver premium quality food with that ‘artesian’ value label consumers want.
They can avoid the ‘mass-produced’, buy it cheap, pile it high, negative connotations of low-quality ingredients that immediately alienate consumers. Moreover, it enables them to explore new and exciting concepts that effectively sell the sizzle and encourage consumers of all ages to try something new.
At Chef Middle East, we look forward to an exciting 2023 with the food service industry trends that will define the direction the sector moves towards in the coming years.