There is no denying it: F&B has an integral role in creating a desirable attendee experience. And as occasions have evolved to put attendee wellness at the top of the priority list, so also have event catering trends for parties, weddings, and meetings. So as we plunge boldly ahead into a whole new decade of events, we’ve rounded up the tendencies that planners, caterers, and resort sales managers need to keep in mind as they craft their menus. Here are the top 20 which you will want to pair with your very best event catering thoughts.
Explore the event catering trends you can’t neglect in the upcoming year:
- Mocktails will go mainstream
But do not call them “mocktails“. These yummy fusions pack all the mixological artisanship of craft cocktails, sans the hard stuff. That’s why they’re rising in bigger numbers in some of the world’s most popular restaurants and bars, including Eleven Madison Park in New York City and American Bar (the longest surviving cocktail establishment in London).
However, craft brewing, as well as other alcoholic drinks, aren’t going anyplace. But with non-alcoholic liquors expected to increase 7.1% annually between now and 2022, 0.0 is a number planner, caterers, and hotel sales managers are going to want to keep on tap.
- Free-from meals aren’t just optional
“Free-from” foods have been anticipated to determine continuous growth in the coming years — especially gluten-free foods, which are forecast to determine a compound annual growth rate of 8.1% in the period between 2018 and 2026. And while gluten-free foods make up more than half of free-from goods, soy-free, dairy-free, and other similar goods are breaking to the culinary spotlight due to health issues and an increase in allergies.
- Attendees wish to know the numbers
However, many restaurants and chains are taking supplements transparency many steps farther by deep-diving into components, tracing ingredients for their origins, and offering advice like protein-per-serving. In 2020 events will be expected to provide the same, driven by the demands of health-conscious attendees who want to know more about what they’re putting into their bodies.
- We are going to see a more modern way of plant-based meat
Say “soy long” to tofu and tempeh, and hello to new plant-based meats that ditch the soy for more creative approaches to creating nutritionally-viable substitutes. And it’s not just cutting-edge plant-burger companies. Savvy gourmet chefs are creating putting peas, cashews, almonds, mushrooms, avocados, beets, and past the middle stage where a slice of beef could have traditionally been.
It’s one of a couple of event catering trends you can expect to stick around past 2020: The fermented meat marketplace is forecast to grow from $4.6 billion in 2018 into a whopping $85 billion from the year 2035.
- Bacteria isn’t a bad word anymore
As research continues to discover exactly how significant the human microbiome is to both mental and physical health, probiotic foods such as kombucha, kefir, and kimchi are having their time. And with planners knowing that happy tummies make joyful attendees, you can anticipate catering menus to kick some conventional drinks to the curb, replacing them with craft kombucha. Meanwhile, fermented foods can make their way onto attendee plates for substantially the same reason. (Which may be a fantastic reason to keep some mints on hand.)
- Expect to see CBD on the menu
CBD has seen an explosion of attention recently because of the guarantee of its many possible health benefits, but the revolution is not just stopping at tinctures and ointments. Cannabinoids are making their way onto discs and into glasses, with CBD-infused menus getting a mainstay moving into 2020. Including everything from sparkling water to high tech culinary classics cooked with CBD oil.
Believe that you can ignore it because you’re catering to the professional audience? Think again. Forbes reports that CBD consumers are an average age of 40, have higher education, and are more prone than non-consumers to be used full time. But if you’re entertaining the idea of placing it on the menu, make 100% certain you’re following consumption legislation in your city or state.
- Book a (culinary) trip to West Africa
Southeast Asian Foods dashed in 2019, but event catering trends will make the trip to West Africa in 2020. The 16 countries within West Africa have similar inherent flavors, but each cooks up its distinct variants thanks to influences from Europe and the Middle East. Therefore, it’s a regional genre of meals that brings abundant variety (and flavor!) into the table. Look to see superfoods such as moringa and tamarind on the dining table, in addition to cereal grains such as sorghum, fonio, teff, and millet.
- Attendees are jacked about jackfruit
We talked about plant-based meat mixed from legumes and veggies. But one plant is standing alone as a meat alternate, with a special texture that’s a remarkable mimic of pork: Jackfruit. This Asian fruit absorbs sauces and tastes incredibly well, making it the perfect blank canvas for barbecue and tex-mex recreations. It’s also packed with calcium, iron, and a lot of B vitamins. So get ready to see jackfruit tacos and beyond on the bill at many an event in 2020.
- Is it be fair trade?
Concerns about food sourcing in 2020 won’t only be limited to the way it has grown. They’ll also include who’s growing it and the way they’re treated. That’s where fair-trade foods come in. While industrial agriculture enables and even encourages compromise at the expense of farmers and workers, Fair Trade Certified™ produce is held to rigorous social, environmental, and economic standards. These criteria ensure both income and environmental sustainability for the marginalized and at-risk communities which are too frequently exploited in the supply chain.
- Event catering will move from a set program
Attendees are craving personalization at every stage of the event experience, food included. And that does not only mean what is being served, also, but it also extends to when it is time to eat. Look to more occasions adopting systems offering continuous refreshments during event hours, instead of set breaks, in 2020. In tandem, expect caterers to accommodate this type of service and therefore, expect it to eat up a little more of event budgets too.
Which occasion catering tendencies will you put on the menu?
If one thing is apparent looking at this list, it’s that healthful foods are no longer just a nice-to-have. Event caterers, planners, and resort sales managers will need to put these 20 tendencies front and centre, crafting F&B menus with a health-forward lens. It’s just the recipe that your attendees are searching for.