It’s that time again. When industry experts make their predictions about which foods, flavors and consumer behaviors will take center stage. This year’s lists include everything from social media’s increasing influence on restaurant menus to the growing acceptance of lab-grown meats1. (Oh my.)
Here are the trends we think are worth paying attention to in 2024:
1. Consumers Shift to Breakfast
Okay. So your first take on this might be, “Hey, that’s not new. Breakfast has been going gangbusters for years.” But after digging in, we’re seeing that this trend is less about expanding breakfast across all dayparts. Instead, it’s about the consumer response to higher costs and stubborn inflation.
More people are turning to brunch as their preferred way to dine out2. Breakfast tabs are less costly for those tightening their budgets, and with more restaurants offering a variety of cocktails/mocktails and bold menu options, diners don’t see it as a sacrifice.
Technomic reports that brunch is becoming the new dinner occasion due to its equally appealing social aspects and lower average check sizes. And let’s not forget the generation that made brunch so popular — millennials. They love going out for brunch, hosting brunch and all those bottomless brunch specials. In fact, 56% percent of generation-categorized brunch mentions come from millennials3.
Brunch is also the meal deemed most positive by consumers. Over 60% of emotionally-categorized brunch mentions are noted as happy3. For you, this means now’s the time to consider (or reconsider) your brunch approach. Everything from cocktails to menu specials to finding ways to make this joyful experience even more enjoyable.
2. Bold is the New Sweet
With consumers saying they want less sweetness in favor of other flavors, there’s been a notable marketplace shift to more bold and unexpected pairings4. Think vegetable-forward cocktails, pepper-infused drinks, and desserts made with ingredients typically associated with savory dishes. These flavors are showing up in all kinds of category-blurring ways, and the bolder the better when it comes to innovating with such unusual mash-ups4.
We should also say that bold isn’t just about spicy. Right now it’s about complex heat and layered taste experiences5. In fact, we’re seeing chefs experiment with a whole new variety of out-of-the-box flavor combinations, like sweet and bitter, sour and umami, and spicy and sour4.
On the retail side, store aisles are heating up with a whole new wave of chile oils, botana sauces and pepper varieties5. Scorpion Peppers, Hungarian Goathorn Peppers and our own personal favorite, Guajillo Peppers, are the latest varieties to trend and they’re showing up in all kinds of foods and beverages5. Yes, America’s pepper boom just keeps on, well, booming.
However you slice it, this trend is your canvas to get creative and entice your diners with boldly unique flavor combinations. Start small with a few new LTO offerings to narrow down favorites and see what works. Just remember, the more unexpected the better for today’s adventurous diners.
3. Menus Get More Descriptive
Consumers are curious. They want the details behind their dishes. The more descriptive your menu offerings, the more intrigued your diners will be2. Of course, descriptive can mean many things, so here a few examples of what you can do to create more menu excitement.
If there’s apple in your dishes or cocktails, call out the specific variety (Granny Smith or Golden Delicious). If the ground beef in your burgers is from a specific origin (100% Wagyu beef raised in Southern Minnesota), let your diners know. They’ll love the transparency. If your recipes have a background story (your tia Carmela’s favorite ranchera sauce), give it a menu nod.
Context gives everything more meaning, which can lead to higher profits. Better yet, there’s some pretty impressive research to support it.
Sales are proven to go up by 30% when menus provide a good description6.
In fact, studies show that menu descriptions trigger 45% of all buying decisions, with the following categories having the greatest influence7:
• identifying food as local
• using organic ingredients
• including places of origin
• adding sensory words
• listing ingredients in local language
Want to add more trending food favorites to your menu? Partner with us and we can help make it a little easier. All MegaMex Foods ingredients are authentically and thoughtfully crafted to save you time and labor without sacrificing quality.
1 Restaurant Hospitality 12/23
2 Technomic 12/23
3 Brandwatch 12/23
4 IFT, 10/23
5 Whole Food’s Market, 10/23
6 Canva, 2023
7 Get Sauce, 12/23
8 Luna Parks SF, 2022