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13 Food Service Tips & Trends for 2024

Scott Fadden
Scott Fadden | December 28, 2023

In today's fast-paced food service industry, it's key to stay ahead by constantly innovating and adapting to emerging trends. So, let's dive in and discover the exciting ways that we see restaurants and others looking at their operations and satisfying the evolving preferences of their patrons in the coming year!

  1. Repurposing Ingredients: By repurposing existing ingredients, restaurants can save time, reduce waste and create unique limited time offers that keep customers coming back for more. Repurposing ingredients allows food service to utilize items that may otherwise go to waste. For example, leftover roasted chicken can be transformed into a delicious chicken salad sandwich or used as a topping for a gourmet pizza. Additionally, repurposing ingredients for limited time offers allows experimentation with new flavors and combinations without committing to a permanent menu item.

  2. Speed Scratch: Speed scratch products are a great way to balance quality, efficiency and labor management. By utilizing pre-made sauces, spice blends and other partially-prepped ingredients, you can save time, ensure consistency and expand menus all while being cost efficient and streamlining kitchen operations.

  3. Robotics: One of the most exciting trends in the industry is the rise of robotic solutions. These cutting-edge technologies are revolutionizing the way restaurants, senior living communities and others operate, allowing for increased efficiency and improved service. From automated food preparation to robotic waitstaff, these innovative solutions are transforming the dining experience.

  4. Global Flavors: Another trend that never really stops gaining momentum is the exploration of global flavors. As consumers continue to become more and more adventurous in their culinary preferences, restaurants are responding by incorporating a wider range of international cuisines into their menus. The blending of flavors and ingredients from different parts of the world continues to create exciting and unique dining experiences.

  5. Managing Menus: Operators are becoming more proactive with their menu choices and pricing. By closely monitoring consumer preferences and market trends, restaurants are able to tailor their offerings to meet the demands of their target audience. This not only ensures customer satisfaction but also helps businesses stay competitive in an increasingly crowded market.

  6. Ancient Grains & Plant Forward Foods: In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in ancient grains such as quinoa and barley. These nutrient-rich ingredients are making a comeback in the form of plant-forward dishes, which prioritize the use of plant-based ingredients without excluding other food groups.

  7. Minimizing Waste & Embracing Sustainability: The idea of zero waste has become increasingly popular in the industry, prompting establishments to explore innovative methods of reducing food waste and their overall environmental impact. From implementing composting systems for organic waste to repurposing and creatively utilizing leftovers, these initiatives not only demonstrate social responsibility but also offer financial benefits for businesses.

  8. Small Plates: Small plates continue to trend in food service. By offering a variety of bite-sized dishes, you can provide customers with the opportunity to sample a wider range of flavors and textures in a single dining experience and offer an alternative to large portion sizes. Small plates also allow for greater efficiency in the kitchen, as they can be prepared in smaller portions and served more quickly. This means shorter wait times for hungry diners and a faster turnover rate.

  9. Spicy Sidekicks: From fiery sriracha to tangy harissa, bold flavors are adding a kick to dishes and satisfying the palates of spice enthusiasts. With the growing popularity of spicy foods, restaurants are not only incorporating these spicy sidekicks as condiments but also using them as key ingredients in their dishes. They are experimenting with different combinations and levels of spiciness to create unique and memorable flavor profiles. For example, chefs are using sriracha as a glaze for wings or as a spicy aioli to add a punch of heat to burgers. Harissa, on the other hand, is being incorporated into marinades for grilled meats or mixed into creamy dips for a spicy twist. Some customers may prefer a milder heat, while others may enjoy the intense spiciness. By offering a variety of spicy condiments, you can ensure that every customer's palate is satisfied.

  10. Simple Ingredients: In an era of processed foods and artificial ingredients, the demand for real foods made with simple and wholesome ingredients is on the rise. Food service establishments are responding by prioritizing fresh and locally sourced ingredients as well as foods with simple ingredient labels, ensuring that customers can enjoy meals that are both delicious and nutritious.

  11. Retro Foods: Retro foods and aesthetics are making a comeback, as nostalgia continues to influence culinary trends. From classic cocktails to vintage-inspired desserts and retro-themed decor, throwback dishes and establishments are evoking a sense of nostalgia. Classic cocktails like the Old Fashioned are experiencing a resurgence in popularity as reinvented classics, and vintage-inspired desserts like the pineapple upside-down cake are being infused with modern flavors and techniques.

  12. People First: In the face of growing competition in the industry, it is essential for businesses to prioritize employee retention, the well-being of their staff and the delivery of exceptional customer service. By implementing a "people first" approach, you can cultivate a positive work and dining environment that fosters loyalty and dedication among both employees and customers.

  13. Social Media: Social media has become an invaluable tool for businesses in the foodservice industry to grow their customer base and increase brand awareness. By harnessing the power of platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok, you can connect with your target audience in a more personal and engaging way.

In conclusion, by embracing innovative strategies, food service establishments will be able to stay ahead of the competition and provide a unique dining experience for their patrons in 2024 and beyond.

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