Bakers Journal

Top food industry trends for 2020

December 12, 2019
By Bakers Journal

Get a sneak preview of what next-year's food trends will bring. Stay ahead of the curve and read on.

Canada’s largest foodservice and hospitality trade event has released its list of the top trends that you can expect to see dominating next year’s dining experiences.

For its 75th year, the RC Show will be sharing insights to help businesses “Diversify and Thrive” in today’s rapidly changing market landscape by embracing what’s new and noteworthy, while at the same time bringing back the classics and making unexpected connections to bring both on-trend and profit-boosting ideas to the table.

Here’s a taste of what you can expect:

Health-conscious food and drink — Consumers are more health conscious than ever. Next year food producers will continue to see a surge of plant-infused beverages and concoctions featuring super food ingredients like camu camu, spirulina, yerba mate and matcha. This trend will evolve in 2020 to include new stress-fighting, mood-boosting and energy-enhancing adaptogens, like macadamia milk, ashwagandha and MCT (derived from coconut oil.) The new term to watch for in relation to this trend is gastrophysics, which translates to how food makes you feel rather than viewing it solely as sustenance.


Transformative Spaces — Restaurateurs are creating memorable experiences not just with food, but also with concepts making innovative use of space. For example, we’ve recently seen dining experiences take place in human-sized snow globes in a number of cities across Canada, as well as a crane-suspended restaurant in Montreal hosting patrons 50 metres off the ground. We expect restaurateurs will continue to think outside the box to come up with ideas that entertain and deliver a unique sensory experience to keep customers coming back. Businesses are also focusing on ways to maximize their space and become multi-functional while upgrading their facilities to include gender-neutral bathrooms and other ways to be more inclusive and accessible for their customers.

Wood-fire Cooking — While this cooking method is not new, it has made its way onto the 2020 trends list… with a fire-hot twist. Wood-fire stoves are the norm for creating pizzas, but chefs are rediscovering their benefits for cooking so much more. The new generation of this equipment is virtually smokeless and therefore has no smoke ventilation issues. This trend is fueled by celebrity chefs who are creating Instagrammable flair moments, but the trend is not just about doing it for the Gram. When cooking with wood, chefs can experiment with a whole new level of flavour, choosing different types of wood to create different taste notes.

High-Touch Tech — Consumers are pressed for time and are looking for faster transactions. Touch technology has helped quick-service restaurants meet these demands with touchscreen, self-ordering kiosks, and this is expanding across the sector in all “grab and go” environments. But the technological revolution is not just for quick-serve establishments. Tableside tablets are becoming a new must-have technology for full-service restaurants. Placing your order, selecting a wine and paying your bill on a tablet is moving into the mainstream. Watch for the growth of apps on your phone to order and pay within restaurants as well. This gives the consumer the dining pace they desire, the ability to customize their orders, and can also help operators better manage staffing shortages being felt throughout the industry.

Customizable Ghost Kitchens — Ghost kitchens are moving past their original model of being a nondescript, bricks and mortar kitchen in an industrial area. Now we see established restaurant chains, like HERO Certified Burgers offering restaurants the ability to sell multiple brands out of a single kitchen. Also, brands like Kitchen Hub are forming ghost kitchen commissaries where several brands join under one roof to share the burden of operational costs. These are solely designed to support the various networks driving the growth of home delivery.  This and other new models will allow brands to grow, without the cost of building a brick and mortar restaurant, with the ability to provide more diverse menu options to consumers, especially in rural communities.

Mainstream Multicultural Mashup — What makes Canada stand out on the international stage is the way we’ve allowed different cultures to work so well together — politically, socially and even on our plates. Twenty-twenty will be the year where chefs explore a wide range of new cultural flavours coming together to reflect our landscape and culturally diverse roots in ways we can’t even begin to fathom. Think Korean kimchi Canadian Beef burgers, Indigenous meets Japanese buffalo tempura and Peruvian-based creative takes on Sudado de Mahi, Tiradito de Salmon and Chocolate Aji Panca ice cream.

Waste Not, Want Not — With concerns about climate change on the rise, the zero-waste movement will continue to take centre stage with restaurant operators implementing new zero-waste techniques and food systems within their operations as they seek to reduce their environmental footprint and increase their savings. Restaurants are looking for all sorts of ways to reduce waste, from cutting down on single-use items to incorporating unused kitchen ingredients into drinks and vice versa. As restaurants continue to struggle with razor-thin profit margins, foodservice operators will find that utilizing all aspects of the products they source is simply good for business, and that consumers will reward them for making strides to become more environmentally sustainable.

Restaurants with a Purpose — More restaurants are taking a stand on key issues beyond the food they prepare and balancing purpose and profit. Consumers are looking to align with restaurants who conscientiously consider the impacts of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community and the environment, especially Gen Z and millennials who put their money where their beliefs are. In 2020, we will continue to see purpose-driven operations that use business as a force for good to grow and more B Corp certified establishments on the scene.

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