What Will We Eat in 2020?

Culinary experts share their predictions.

November 14, 2019

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Say goodbye to the 2010s decade, the era of avocado toast, kale, plant-based meat alternatives and cult-craved chicken sandwiches from QSRs. The next big things in food are just around the corner, reports Business Insider. Here are a few of those coming trends.

According to Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research at the National Restaurant Association, and Allan Sherwin, professor of culinary management at Michigan State University, locavore eating will continue to grow in popularity. "People are increasingly looking at foods that are 'farm-raised' and organic," Sherwin said. "That will continue to be an important consideration for people in the coming year."

Look for more restaurants to embrace open-concept designs that let guests see how they're preparing food. "More and more, people want to see how the food is being made," he said. "They want to feel like they're a part of the experience, not just tucked away having their food magically brought to them."

Expect a change in kid’s menus, which will feature whole-grain superfoods like quinoa and whole wheat breads, along with global cuisine. "We're predicting more availability of healthy items on children's menus that allow kids to explore new flavors," Riehle said. "We can expect to see kids' menus incorporating more global flavors—from Mediterranean cuisine to West African dishes.

Fermented beverages and non-alcoholic drinks will continue to be fashionable. Sherwin noted that kombucha, which is made of fermented yeast and often thought of as having benefits that aid gut health, will remain popular and people will spend more money to enjoy them. "They're not adverse to spending $10 to $15 for one of these drinks because of their supposed health benefits," he said.

Korean rice liquor, known as makgeolli, also will be trendy. In 2020, the milky white Korean drink will be gracing many restaurant and bar menus with it’s sweet-and-sour taste.

The zero-waste movement will still be strong, with shoppers avoiding purchases with excess or wasteful packaging. "Zero-waste cooking is a sign of the times, as younger generations of consumers value that in restaurants and want to support establishments that are eco-friendly," Riehle said. "It's also good for business and helps restaurants reduce costs."

Riehle believes people's busy digital lives will lead them to value the social aspect of dining at a brick-and-mortar restaurant even more than they have in the past. "There are two reasons people go to a restaurant: convenience and socialization," he said. "While there is a long-term trend of restaurants coming to consumers and people having more meal occasions centered around delivery or takeout, people do still crave being at a physical restaurant for being around other people, for that atmosphere you can't recreate at home, and for special occasions."

As 2019 comes to a close to open a new decade with the year 2020, we can expect to see many of these trends surfacing up on the horizon, with the idea and focus of convenience on the minds of many retailers eager to provide what consumers will be seeking.