This is 2020: Part 5
Biodegradable packaging, allergen-free desserts lead new decade’s trends
Rather than trying to chase fads, I look at trends for 2020 as the next chapters of food movements that have been evolving for years. Diners are more educated about looking beyond gimmicks and buzzwords, while restaurant operators are taking a stand on everything from social causes to sustainable practices.
Biodegradable packaging is an attainable goal
Especially for fast-casual restaurants that do big takeaway business, a shift to sustainable, eco-friendly, bio-based packaging is becoming not only easier from a sourcing standpoint, but more of a selling point with customers.
Many people appreciate receiving compostable clamshell containers and biodegradable forks instead of Styrofoam and plastic. With Europe ahead of the United States in eliminating plastics, Euro imports like “naturally fast food” Leon set a good example.
While formal dining restaurants have less need for to-go containers, it still makes sense to follow this trend as part of a greater sustainability plan.
The ‘meatless’ trend continues
People are getting comfortable with meatless meals, and 2019 closed with yet another paradigm shift in progress: Rather than merely offering a few plant-based options, some mainstream restaurants are devising menus where meat dishes have either a minor presence or none whatsoever.
This plant-based switch exists on either end of the fast-food-to-fine-dining spectrum: Celebrity chef Dominique Crenn announced that all her restaurants were going meat-free in November 2019, just a few weeks after the Minit Stop chain in Hawaii replaced all the meat on its grab-and-go menu with Impossible Foods’ products.
“Impossible’s plant-based burger acts, smells and tastes like beef. So much so that we can add our own local flavor profile to it,” says Minit Stop vice-president Jon Miyabuchi in a press announcement of the partnership. He adds that the switch from beef was a response to customer demand.
Regenerative agriculture products
Consumers increasingly realize that “locally grown” is a marketing buzzword, organic isn’t necessarily the most socially equitable farming practice and plant-based protein isn’t always the healthiest. People with a practical interest in sustainable food production are looking toward regenerative agriculture, i.e. natural farming that enriches topsoil and increases biodiversity. Not only does it produce better food, but farmers say it may be the best answer to climate change.
While only a few restaurant categories used to have a signature pickle—Southern eateries with fried pickles, Jewish delis with kosher dills, Korean restaurants and kimchi—vinegary-crunchy little bites are showing up alongside Texas barbecue, Caribbean stews and brewery sandwich plates.
“Fermentation and pickling offer a near-endless palette of sour, funky and complex flavors to play with,” says Dr. Julia Skinner, author of Afternoon Tea: A History (Rowman & Littlefield; April 2019). It’s also a fantastic way to creatively use food scraps that would otherwise be thrown out.”
Desserts go beyond sugar-free
One interesting side effect of the public obsession with food sensitivity is the transformation of the dessert section, which is no longer based on sugar, butterfat and empty carbs. If you work with confectioners who know their way around special dietary substitutions, you may find that customers prefer gluten-free crème brulees and dairy-free dark chocolate ganache to the originals.
- Author: Lena Katz
- Posted: December 12, 2019
- Categories: Trending Now