Food trends & lessons learned during the pandemic

Even as they continue to adapt, restaurants still always have the opportunity to improve their operations to meet shifts in demand. Restaurants can do so by paying close attention to the ways customers reacted to the pandemic and other recent changes in the foodservice industry.

Let’s take a look at some of the food trends that have taken over in the last year.

Plant-based meat substitutes 

Although plant-based diets have steadily increased in popularity over the years, they gained even more traction when the pandemic hit.

We all remember the panic experienced over the supply shortages in the first few weeks and months of the pandemic. Besides toilet paper, meat also fell into short supply due to outbreaks at meat-packing facilities. This instability in the supply of meat combined with continuing environmental concerns increased plant-based eating even more.

Over the last year, even fast-casual dining chains have hitched their wagons to the plant-based train by offering “beyond” burgers and other vegetarian or vegan options. Some customers enjoy plant-based foods for health reasons, while others appreciate the environmental benefits. Either way, plant-based dishes are part of a trend that won’t go away once the pandemic ends.

Comfort foods

Two comfort foods have been especially popular over the last year—pasta and bread. At different times throughout the pandemic, grocery stores even saw a shortage of dry pasta and flour on their shelves. It’s safe to say that pasta recipes and sourdough bread will continue to be a hit well into the future.

Trending in tech 

With all the extra time at home, people are getting back into cooking. This time, they’re turning to their favorite cookbooks and, increasingly, the internet for inspiration, new recipes, and food trends.

Food blogs have long led the way as online sources for culinary inspiration. But recently, new platforms such as TikTok have also become resources for exploring new foods and beverages.  If you’re a TikTok fan, you may have witnessed the rise in popularity of treats like Dalgona whipped coffee, homemade mochi ice-cream, and hot cocoa bombs.

Delivery only models on the rise

As restaurants look to cut costs, lower overhead, and increase efficiency, ghost kitchens have increased in popularity. These ghost kitchens—also known as “virtual” or “cloud kitchens”—reduce costs and allow restaurants to scale up their delivery services by moving food production to offsite locations with smaller footprints and lower overhead.

Instead of providing food for in-house dining, ghost kitchens only fulfill delivery orders placed online. As restaurants shut down due to lockdowns and restrictions in service, ghost kitchens stay open for business.

Pandemic or no pandemic, trends in the foodservice industry will continue to evolve and change. We can’t say for sure what those changes will look like. But we can tell you with absolute certainty that we’re here to help you adapt no matter what.

Learn more about what we can do for you and your business by visiting our website.