Seven F&B Trends for 2020 and How Events Can Embrace Them

Author: Curt Wagner       

2020 food trends

The foods of West Africa will trend in 2020, Whole Foods believes. The prediction reflects those of other groups who believe diners will seek out unusual flavors in the coming year.

Whole Foods recently released its top 10 list of food trends for 2020, and while many of them are the same as the prognostications on previously reported F&B hot lists, there are some of special interest to event organizers.

Here are seven of the Whole Foods predictions and how the events industry has or can embrace each trend as part of its F&B programs.

1. Regenerative Agriculture

This practice is all about farming in a way that benefits the land — or the environment in general. While event planners aren’t plowing the fields, they can sow the beginnings of planetary restoration by using plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy at their F&B events. As Convene has reported, the eco-positive benefits of replacing meat and milk-based food products with plant-based menu items grows along with event size and as more plant-based alternatives are served. Some venues already are embracing the plant-based food trend.

2. Meat-Plant Blends

There has been a lot of talk about plant-based meat alternatives like Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat, but the blend trend is for those who aren’t ready to go full vegetarian in their diets. It involves mixing real beef with an eco-friendlier ingredient like mushrooms to create a somewhat healthier menu item that’s also better for the planet. The James Beard Foundation, through its Blended Burger Project, has been nudging chefs and therefore their diners toward plant-and-beef blends for a handful of years. It’s another alternative for event planners looking to reduce the environmental impact of their F&B — without losing that traditional beef flavor in their offerings.

3. Zero-Proof Drinks

Nonalcoholic beer has been around for decades, but more brands are tapping into the “sober curious” movement with new products. Events, too, are making an effort to offer these pre-packaged, alcohol-free options, as well as mixing up some zero-proof cocktails. The trend, which showed up in products presented at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City, will continue to grow in popularity.

4. Healthier single-serve snack options

Healthier grab-and-go snacks — think pre-packaged but fresh items such as “hard-boiled eggs with savory toppings, pickled vegetables, drinkable soups, and mini dips and dippers of all kinds” — already are available in the refrigerated sections at stores and grocers. With the cost of event F&B rising, these types of snacks might be a smart option for planners with tight budgets and packed conference schedules.

5. Beyond Soy and 6. Flour Power

Meeting the needs of attendees with restricted diets or special dietary requests can be tricky, but these two trends may help venues in that quest. The first involves soy-based products, a good alternative for anyone with a milk sensitivity. But some people are allergic to soy, so manufacturers are coming up with products that swap soy for mung bean, hempseed, pumpkin, avocado, watermelon seed, and golden chlorella. Planners, chefs, and venues needing more options to create gluten-free menu items can look out for new wheat-based flour replacements made with cauliflower, bananas, coconut, and tigernuts,

7. Unique Flavors

The Whole Foods predictions reflect many of the same trends listed among global hospitality company Benchmark’s top dining trends for 2020 and the Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants Culinary & Cocktails Trend Forecast for 2020. Both those lists suggest increased interest in unusual flavor profiles in food and beverage. Whole Foods specifically calls out “foods from West Africa” as a trend, partly because of the region’s “rich, earthy dishes” filled with spices and indigenous “superfoods” like moringa and tamarind. The unique flavors trend spills over into syrups and sweeteners tasting of pomegranate, monk fruit, sweet potato nectar and more.