2022 is shaping out to be a momentous year, with many noteworthy international events crammed right in the first half. As a restaurant owner, you might begin to wonder what these events could translate to and what trends they could be driving in the industry.
Knowing industry trends is critical if you want to stay a step ahead of your competition.
This article will discuss essential trends deciding the course of the entire restaurant industry this 2022 and beyond. Let’s jump right in.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
1. Online Ordering
The online ordering paradigm has been steadily gaining traction in the last few years, but the pandemic these past few years massively accelerated its adoption.
Today, it’s impossible to imagine a world without online food ordering. The food ordering platforms we have come to rely on so much are now dominating such as big part of the dining landscape that it’s even expanding to other services, such as delivering groceries and other retail products.
Of course, the pandemic lockdowns were a big reason for this widespread use.
On the customers’ side, ordering takeout food was far easier and safer than risking going out. For restaurants, shifting to delivery and takeout became their only source of income for some months, as the pandemic massively curtailed customer activities.
Nevertheless, now that the populace seems to be adapting to the new normal, online ordering still isn’t going anywhere.
Various statistics have showcased the growth of online ordering in restaurants, and it’s not difficult to see why. The benefits of online ordering for customers are difficult to match: convenience, availability, and safety, to name a few. For restaurants, online ordering reduces food waste, increases efficiency, and lets them gather customer data.
It’s just a trend this 2022, but online ordering is here to stay. Jump on the bandwagon and ensure that you have strong online ordering platforms and protocols.
2. From Fast Food to Fast-Casual
The fast-casual restaurant trend is a concept that’s been around for a few years and is not showing any signs of slowing down. Restaurant industry statistics show that sales from fast-casual dining reached $47 billion in 2016, with recent years proving to be even more profitable.
A fast-casual restaurant doesn’t provide full table service. It gives consumers the opportunity to order food made with fewer processed and frozen ingredients, making it healthier than fast food.
Whether they’re dining in or taking out, consumers are choosing fast-casual dining options when they want quality food that’s still affordable.
3. Shift to Health and Wellness
Health consciousness is on the rise as consumers pay more attention to their health and wellness and what they’re eating. Not to mention, the pandemic has made a renewed focus on health and wellness somewhat inevitable.
Because of those two factors, the restaurant industry is seeing a rise in wholesome and clean menu choices that feature superfood ingredients, including gut-healthy foods such as kombucha and miso. Other healthy options currently in high demand from consumers include natural sweeteners such as stevia and non-dairy milk options like almond or soy.
Restaurants can easily take advantage of this trend by modifying current recipes and offering more options to their customers.
4. Vegetarian, Vegan, and Plant-Based Dining
Another trend that’s at the forefront of the restaurant industry is plant-based menu choices.
Consumers are recognizing the benefits of eating little or no animal protein, choosing instead to eat like vegetarians, vegans, and flexitarians. This means restaurants need to have available plant-based items – and not just one option.
Adding plant-based foods to the menu means using ingredients high in protein, such as non-GMO organic tofu, quinoa, and Fonio, a gluten-free grain hybrid between quinoa and couscous.
5. Unique and Global Flavors
Consumers don’t want to always eat familiar foods – occasionally, they want bold global flavors that make their dining experience one to remember.
Diners want authentic dishes that accurately represent different cultures and traditions using herbs, spices, and high-quality global ingredients such as pomegranate molasses and tahini.
Last year, some of the top ethnic dishes were Asian, Latin, and Mediterranean, and the trend is expected to continue. Giving consumers what they want when it comes to these global flavors is becoming a priority for many restaurants.
It can be as simple as adding one or two menu items that highlight global cooking, such as sauces made with ingredients that are authentic to the cultural cuisine.
However, you need to balance this demand with the current supply chain issues that the entire industry is facing. Offering exotic dishes is great and all, but not when your ingredients are delayed by months and new equipment for new food takes ages to make its way to you.
Thus, before taking advantage of this continuing trend, take stock of what you can conveniently get your hands on and look for alternatives for those you can’t.
6. Sustainable Dining
Sustainability in dining is all about food and restaurant management, such as using energy-efficient lighting and reducing waste.
Consumers are paying more attention to what’s happening on the planet – and they believe in backing up their support with their dollars. Statistics show that 20% of consumers are aware of sustainable food production, with 41% being interested in sustainable meat.
This means that diners are choosing restaurants that aren’t just serving tasty food when eating out. They’re also basing their choice on restaurants that are focused on sustainability.
Here’s what restaurant owners can do to promote sustainability practices in their establishment:
- Cook foods that are in season
- Source local fruits and vegetables
- Source sustainable meat and seafood
- Serve local and organic wines and beer
- Donate surplus food to community groups
- Recycle and return packaging to suppliers, which can save money and reduce restaurant and bar costs
7. Hyper-Local Restaurants
Fitting right in with sustainability is the trend for hyper-local restaurants, which takes the concept one step further. Diners are looking for restaurants that grow produce in their backyard or rooftop.
Developing agriculture is all dependent on space, but it can be as simple as growing herbs to use in cocktails or as expansive as growing tomatoes for fresh salads.
Before the pandemic, as well as all the other post-pandemic issues, there were two benefits to being hyper-local. One was being able to follow
being hyper-local restaurant owners has dual benefits: not only are they following an industry trend, but they also have less waste and save money on produce.
But in light of the industry-wide shortages and massive delays in the supply chain, sourcing ultra-locally is steadily becoming not just a fringe benefit but also a necessity.
Dubbed The Great Shortage as it started in late 2021, issues in international logistics are still in full swing. Not to mention the sky-rocketing inflation rates making everything more prohibitive for new restaurants.
With these factors added, being hyper-local is becoming a big focus this 2022. Restaurant owners are eager to source (relatively) cheap, readily available, and reliable ingredients from their neighborhood.
To jump on this bandwagon, start by sourcing materials from your local farmers’ market. You can also check out craft product manufacturers in your area for things like beverages and sauces, among others.
8. Menu Engineering
Menu engineering is now a necessity for restaurants of every size and type. Redesigning your menu to focus on available and profitable dishes fits right into the theme of supply chain effects.
As some ingredients become more challenging to get and other supplies and materials can be stuck in the chain for months, it’s become more critical for restaurant owners to maximize margins, reduce food costs, and improve availability.
Menu engineering is the best way to achieve this. And it’s not just a fancy way of saying “better-looking menus” – it’s backed by science and follows a rigid set of principles.
This method can be summarized in six steps, which are the following.
- Analyze your costs. Look through recent sales data and determine the cost of every dish you offer to see where you can cut down on costs.
- Categorizing your current menu. Based on your analysis, group your dishes into four: very popular and very profitable (called “stars”), very popular but not so profitable (plow horses), not so popular but very profitable (puzzles), and lastly, dishes that are both unpopular and unprofitable (dogs).
- Placement and content strategy. This is where you plan on what you put into your menu: the pictures, prices, descriptions, branding, etc.
- Design strategy. Guide your customer’s eyes across the page to focus on your stars and hide or eliminate your dogs.
- Optimize your images. Create good, dynamic visuals that will make customers want your food.
- Decide on your pricing. Utilize various pricing strategies to persuade guests to pick the right item for them and maximize profits at the same time.
Recent trends are also revealing that customers prefer shorter and smaller menus, so this is where your categorization jumps into place. See which dishes you can cut out to streamline your menu and reduce the low-quality food your customers might get.
Not to mention, this helps your chefs make a few things that will make your restaurant stand out, rather than disperse their expertise to making something for everybody.
If you’re doing it right, data suggests that this method can raise profits by up to 15% – not insignificant in these uncertain times.
9. Changing Wine Tastes
Wine is perhaps one of the most popular drinks that diners order with a meal. A past trend has been for shorter wine lists, known as “micro” lists, that offer consumers quality over quantity. Today, wine is still a trend, although tastes may have changed a bit.
Although difficult to predict precisely, here are wine trends to be aware of and implement in your restaurant and bar this 2022:
- Affordable wines
- Low-alcohol content wines
- Sparkling wines
- Lighter and more fruity red wines
- Wines from lesser-known regions
- Local vegan and organic wines
- Cannabis infused-wines
10. Optimizing Ghost Kitchens
While the previous years focused on crafting high-quality restaurant experiences, the pandemic changed consumer attitudes about eating out.
Some restaurants have removed indoor dining entirely or otherwise have shifted to online reservations, touchless processes, smaller spaces, and a focus on health regulations, just to name a few.
But where are all the people eating? And how are they getting their food?
Answers: inside their homes, through ghost kitchens.
A ghost kitchen is a cooking space that doesn’t offer any dining space. In a ghost kitchen, chefs make online orders and then have them delivered out through the various delivery services that sprung up like mushrooms. Some ghost kitchens also offer spaces for customers to pick up the food themselves.
This type of food-making arrangement is becoming more sustainable due to changed customer attitudes about eating out. It may change yet again in the future as the pandemic disappears entirely – yet there’s also a possibility that it may stay.
Whatever the case, ghost kitchens are another trend that restaurant owners have to keep in mind to compete in a changing restaurant industry landscape.
11. Bonus: The Top Food Trends Right Now
There’s no doubt that each year, the interest of consumers turns towards something new. Craft beers, breakfast served all day, and avocado toast are all trends we’ve seen in the past. According to the National Restaurant Association, here are some of the top food trends of the past year:
- Cannabis-infused foods and drinks
- Zero waste and head-to-tail cooking
- Globally inspired breakfasts
- Global flavors for kids
- New cuts of meat, such as the Vegas Strip
- Produce as the star of the dish
- Locally produced artisan spirits
Staying On Top of Restaurant Industry Trends
Staying on top of restaurant and food trends will give you the upper edge over your competition. This year, the most influential trends appear to be changing consumer attitudes, getting around industry hurdles, and focusing more on health and wellness.
If you want to take advantage of these market conditions, you now have everything you need to make a strategy.
Nevertheless, whatever trends might come and go, restaurant security remains a primary concern – unless you have Glimpse. This automated video-auditing software uses your CCTV and POS system to keep an eye out on your sales and possible unaccounted drink sales.
Try out Glimpse today!