What Are the Top F&B Trends for 2020?

Author: Curt Wagner       

Jackfruit, already a substitute for barbecue pulled pork (above), will grow in popularity in 2020, according to Benchmark’s list of dining trends.

The CBD food trend tops global hospitality company Benchmark’s top dining trends for 2020. For those who haven’t heard (a lot) about CBD since the trend exploded over the last 12 months, its a naturally occurring, non-psychoactive compound found in the resinous flower of Cannabis, aka marijuana plants. Again, CBD is non-psychoactive, which means those who partake of the ever-expanding variety of food and drink options using it won’t “get high.”

Benchmark bases its list on the observations of executive chefs and culinary experts at its 80 hotels, resorts, and restaurants. Here is the full list:

CBD Products

Coffee shops, cafes, and restaurants are incorporating CBD oil into their dining menus. CBD-infused drinks also are quickly gaining momentum in the beverage market, Benchmark reports, including sparkling waters, coffees, teas, energy drinks, and alcoholic beverages.

Plant-Based Menus

Benchmark believes the trend toward plant-based diets will grow rapidly in 2020 after years of research to make flavorful meat substitutes. By next year, Benchmark predicts, many restaurants “will have a dedicated menu for plant-based food items.”

Healthy Snacks

The potato chip may meet its match in 2020. As healthier snack options with ingredients like chickpeas, beets, quinoa and kale enter the market, Benchmark predicts these alternatives will begin to satisfy the cravings of more and more consumers.


Jackfruit’s “moment” will continue in 2020, Benchmark believes. Already a popular substitute for barbecue pulled pork because of its similar texture, the Southeast Asian fruit — packed with iron, calcium, and B vitamins — will become “a force in the food industry as a meat alternative.”

Unique Fruit Flavors

Beverage menus are moving beyond traditional fruits, highlighting the unusual flavors from cactus, such as prickly pear and dragon fruit. Benchmark says consumers also are exploring unique fruit flavor varieties, including bergamot orange, calamansi, citron, makrut lime, pomelo, Meyer lemon, yuzu, ugli fruit, and blood orange.

Oat Milk

Oat milk has joined almond and soy milk as another option for those seeking a dairy alternative, and many cafes already are using it exclusively. Benchmark predicts companies will be launching other oat milk products to help minimize the environmental impacts associated with animal husbandry.

Sparkling Water

We don’t need Benchmark to tell us the demand for sparkling water has exploded. Young consumer who are looking to cut sugar consumption but still satisfy their carbonation craving are guzzling the fizzy drinks.

Bright Colors

Color generates emotional appeal with food, some say just as much as taste. And in a world of social media “food porn,” adding color to a dish can help make it a little more Instagram-friendly.


Concerned about climate change, consumers are demanding more sustainable packaging and ingredients — making sustainability integral to the food and beverage operating model. “The heightened focus on single-use plastics is not just a fad but a reality that goes beyond the purge of the plastic straw,” Benchmark says.

Ugly Produce

About 40 percent of all the food produced in the U.S. goes uneaten because it is imperfect. As a way to combat food waste, start-up food companies are sending boxes of misshapen, bruised, and ugly foods directly to consumers’ homes.

Become a Member

Get premium access to provocative executive-level education, face-to-face networking and business intelligence.