You don’t need the 2020 vision to see the emerging trends in foodservice. In fact, previous trends such as online delivery now allow for better data mining and trends predicting than ever.

So here it is; our top twenty trends of 2020 food service.

1. Mock Meats

With the pro-vegan documentary Game Changers movie becoming water cooler talk in offices across the country late last year, and with the bushfire crisis igniting many to stop eating meat for environmental reasons, there has been a huge increase in consumers opting for plant-based options (even if not strictly following a vegan or vegetarian diet). Add this increased number of plant-based eaters with the rise of mock meat products available, and you bet operators are going to be reviewing and re-writing their menus this year. A token meat-free option of a pasta or vegetable stack isn’t going to cut it for the 2020 plant-based consumer, who can instead call up Domino’s and order one of 7 different vegan pizza options including a vegan beef & onion pizza, a vegan taco fiesta and vegan loaded burger options, all at the same price one would order a regular pizza. Burger giants like Hungry Jacks are embracing the Beyond Meat franchise, which is growing at a rate usually seen in the tech industry. From a culinary standpoint, embracing plant-based consumers’ sets a new and exciting challenge for chefs, who can experiment with foods and flavours and create in-house mock meat dishes such as “smoked salmon” made from watermelon or “pulled pork” tacos using jackfruits!

2. Eco-friendly

Consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of not just their own environmental footprint, but that of the brands they choose to support. From clothing brands to big banks, more and more consumers are opting to support those businesses with a clear, environmentally conscious business ethos. Utilising any eco-friendly messaging in your marketing is a great way to attract new customers or ignite loyalty among existing customers. Discounts for people using keep-cups or scrapping reusable cups altogether are a simple yet effective way of pushing an environmentally friendly business persona. Reusable straws, locally sourced produce, green cleaning chemicals or promoting the use of eco-friendly kitchen appliances from energy saving combi ovens to commercial dishwashers that use minimal water are some great ways to get started.

3. Delivery or Dark Kitchens

Food delivery has exploded in recent years, and with the industry predicted to grow a further 9.4% by 2023, it’s only going to get more challenging for operators attempting to find cohesion between their dine-in and delivery offers. Some simple yet effective ways to help maintain an excellent in-dining experience whilst catering to the online market are to create a delivery driver pick up counter that is separate from the customer counter, creating a delivery driver entrance that’s separate from your main entrance, or having equipment that is reserved for delivery customers only to ensure that service times both in your venue and through delivery are maintained. One of Melbourne’s top-performing Vietnamese restaurants on Uber Eats Mister Minh initially employed this strategy of reserving equipment for delivery only orders and saw great success using this strategy. You can learn more about this here. Like many operators, Mister Minh’s delivery business grew so much that their original premises could no longer support their online offering and instead opted to open a dark or delivery kitchen. These dark kitchens have no shop fronts and no branding; instead are a commercial kitchen where menu items from the restaurant are prepared and delivered without any interruption to the restaurant’s in house dining experience and reputation. 2020 will see dark kitchens become commonplace, with different operators banding together to work from the one dark kitchen, reducing overheads.

4. Non-alcoholic offering

As ABS findings show, Australians are drinking less alcohol now than at any time in the past 50 years. In fact, we haven’t consumed this little alcohol as a nation since 1961! Whilst operators may see this as another financial hit to their bottom line, it does open up new opportunities for expanding their “mocktail” offering, which is usually sold at a similar price as their alcoholic counterparts.

5. Facelift in a sip

No, you read that right. Collagen “spiked” drinks are expected to become the next big superfood trend of 2020, with searches of supplements containing collagen at an all-time high according to Google trends. If you’re in the health food foodservice space, this is one trend to utilise in your smoothies, acai bowls, protein balls or mocktails!

6. Space saving equipment

With rents remaining high, space is still considered a luxury in commercial kitchens. Multi-functional cooking equipment allows operators to swap out an entire cooking lineup to something that allows them to cook almost anything all from under a metre squared in space! This has been commonplace in commercial kitchens for years, but expect smaller operators like cafes and food trucks to take up invest in this smarter, space-saving technology like combi ovens (RATIONAL’s SelfCookingCenter’s allow you to cook a curry whilst you bake bread with no flavour transference!), VarioCookingCenters (or advanced bratt pans, can be used to braise, boil, fry, deep fry, slow cook, pressure cook and more), impinger conveyor ovens (stackable units that can cook pizza, toast, steaks, chicken etc) and advanced microwaves (like the Menumaster MRX which uses a microwave, convection and infrared heat to cook almost anything imaginable).

7. Harissa

Originating from North Africa, Harissa is set to surpass the sriracha trend of 2019 as the go-to condiment and flavouring of choice. With a spicy roasted red pepper base, Harissa is the perfect side for fried entrees or a welcome addition to burgers, toasties, mayos and more.

8. Food halls

Food halls are hot property right now and are being built into a growing number of commercial building developments across the country. For restaurateurs, these food halls are extremely desirable, with minimal startup funds required and far less ongoing costs required. For those in a startup, food halls with rotating vendors allow a great opportunity to test a concept before taking it to market and outlaying the costs of bricks and mortar location.

9. Bone broth

Bone broth has been on the scene for the past five years; however, this trend was usually limited to those following the paleo or caveman diet. This trend is set to soar this year, with the bone broth being used in pho’s, soups, ramen’s, pies, lattes, risotto’s or sold as a side!

10. Kids menus

The old fashion kids’ menus of nuggets and chips, fish fingers and spaghetti are a thing of the past, with this decade bringing in a newer, more refined offering for kids. Expect smaller, kids size portions of regular meals to become commonplace, with plant-based proteins, organic vegetables and whole grains like quinoa to become commonplace across the foodservice industry.

11. Cauliflower everything

Each year there is a new food that seems to be used in any and every way possible. Well in 2020 expect to see A LOT of cauliflower. Cauliflower pizza bases, cauliflower pasta, cauliflower dip, roasted cauliflower served whole, in salads or sides, cauliflower mash – the list is endless!

12. Transparent windows

With the trend of open kitchens continuing this decade, back of house equipment is now out in full view of the customers. Therefore, equipment suppliers are giving their BOH equipment a facelift! Expect bold colour options like the Mareno Star Series, and transparent windows to become commonplace – allowing both customers and chefs to see the food during the cooking process.

13. The Brussels sprouts revival

Did anyone else grow up with the threat of “I’ll cook you Brussels sprouts for dinner”? This forgotten vegetable is making a big culinary comeback this year; with fine dining, pubs and cafes coming up with unique recipes to make this bitter vegetable pop. Expect to see salad made with shredded Brussels sprouts, baked with crispy pancetta nor bathed in duck fat and Gorgonzola.

14. Fair pay

In the age of conscious consumers, the repercussions of being embroiled in any pay or wage disputes with staff will result in detrimental effects to your customer loyalty, your brand image and your bottom line.

15. Keto

Despite being ranked the worst diet of 2020 in the annual roundup by the US News & World Report, the Keto diet will continue to strongly influence the foodservice industry this year. With more celebrities jumping on board the fad diet, expect to see a range of carb-free keto-friendly options on menus.

16. Digital menu boards

Digital menu boards are already commonplace in the quick-service arena but expect to see them deployed in a growing number of foodservice outlets this year.

17. Countertop equipment

There are a lot of benefits to countertop commercial cooking equipment; it frees up back of house space and limits kitchen congestion, requires no ventilation systems making them environmentally friendly, plus allows for quicker service when providing grab-and-go options that can be heated FOH. Besides the obviously advanced microwave or countertop conveyor ovens, expect to see a lot more and a larger range of countertop equipment this year, from Hibachi Charocal Grill’s to countertop induction stoves.

18. Salad Menus

You’d be hard-pressed to find a foodservice outlet without at least 2 or 3 salads on the menu – even when pigging out at a burger chain, the health-conscious consumers of 2020 are well represented. But this decade will see the salads menu grow significantly in size and options, with the salads sections of menus expected to match in size to the entree offering.

19. Healthy grab-and-go

These have been trending in retail food service for a while, but expect to see more and more cafes, convenience stores and restaurant’s offering a healthy grab-and-go menu for the time and health-conscious consumers of 2020. For cafes jumping on the trend, expect to see a big boost in your bottom line with these options being prepared outside of peak service, will not slowdown in dining service times plus means you can service more and more customers without needing to add more seats inside your venue.

20. AI

AI will impact all facets of life in 2020, with AI allowing a number of once manual tasks to be entirely automated. Robotics in kitchens, automated ordering systems, AI delivery (from drones to delivery robots) and bots manning your phones, messenger or webchat will make a massive impact on foodservice this decade.


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