10 Food and Restaurant Trends that will Define How People Eat in 2020

Learn from two restaurant and culinary experts as they explore up-and-coming food trends for 2020. Fermented drinks like kombucha and makgeolli will grow in popularity in 2020. Kids' menus will get more ambitious, with chefs incorporating more whole grains and global cuisine into their meals. Home meal kits will also become an increasingly popular restaurant alternative.

The 2010s have been marked by avocado toast, kale, plant-based meat alternatives, and recently, cult-favorite fast-food chicken sandwiches. But what's the next big thing we should expect in food? To find out, Insider spoke with Hudson Riehle, the senior vice president of research at the National Restaurant Association, and Allan Sherwin, a professor of culinary management at Michigan State University. Keep reading to see their predictions for the 2020 food scene.

1) There will be an increased interest in "locavore" eating 

Sherwin said locavore eating will continue to grow in popularity in the new year. Someone who follows a locavore diet or who identifies as a locavore focuses on eating foods that are made with locally grown ingredients or that have been sourced from local farms. "People are increasingly looking at foods that are 'farm-raised' and organic," he said. "That will continue to be an important consideration for people in the coming year."

2) More restaurants will embrace open-concept kitchens as customers want to see how their food is being made

Sherwin predicted that restaurants will continue to embrace open-concept designs that show guests how they're preparing food. "More and more, people want to see how the food is being made," Sherwin said. "They want to feel like they're a part of the experience, not just tucked away having their food magically brought to them."

3) It will be more common to find kids' menus that feature whole-grain superfoods like quinoa, as well as global cuisine

"We're predicting more availability of healthy items on children's menus that allow kids to explore new flavors," Riehle said. "We can expect to see kids' menus incorporating more global flavors — from Mediterranean cuisine to West African dishes." Riehle added that more restaurants are crafting kids' menus that focus on whole grains like quinoa and wholewheat breads, rather than simple carbs like white bread, which offer little nutritional value.

4) Fermented beverages and non-alcoholic drinks will also be all the rage in the upcoming year

Sherwin highlighted the drink kombucha — made of fermented yeast and often thought of as having health benefits that aid gut health — as a buzzy beverage option for the upcoming year. "People are spending more on kombucha and kombucha-like beverages," Sherwin said. "They're not adverse to spending $10 to $15 for one of these drinks because of their supposed health benefits."

5) Korean rice liquor, known as makgeolli, will also be a trendy drink

Sherwin, whose area of expertise is in food and beverage studies, predicted the Korean drink makgeolli will be gracing many restaurant and bar menus in 2020. The milky-white drink is slightly sparkling and tastes both sweet and sour.

6) Biodynamic wine will grow in popularity 

Sherwin is currently coaching a team of students who are creating a wine as part of a collegiate competition, and his team's product is a biodynamic wine — which he says is part of a growing trend. Wine — or any crop or product — made with a biodynamic method means it has met a certain set of standards for being grown without pesticides and unnatural processes or chemicals. Sherwin added that biodynamic wine tends to refer to grapes that have been planted and grown at certain times of the season that relate to the moon phases. "Ten years ago, somebody would say, 'You're out of your mind' if you said there's a wine where the grapes are grown according to the phases of the moon," Sherwin said. "But today, I think people are willing to spend more money on a glass if they think it's more beneficial or unique."

7) The zero-waste movement will influence the food and restaurant industry

Composting and avoiding purchasing foods with excess or wasteful packaging are all ways that home cooks and restaurant chefs will be incorporating the zero-waste trend into the kitchen in 2020. "Zero-waste cooking is a sign of the times, as younger generations of consumers value that in restaurants and want to support establishments that are more eco-friendly," Riehle said. "It's also good for business and helps restaurants reduce costs, as well as benefiting the environment. 

8) The popularity of home meal kits with pre-measured ingredients will continue

Sherwin attributed his prediction about the growing popularity of home meal kits — such as Blue Apron, HelloFresh, and a variety of other kit brands — to the fact that many Americans eat at "unconventional" times but still want restaurant-quality meals. "Many people are no longer eating lunch right at noon or dinner at 6," he said. "They'll eat dinner later, maybe breakfast later, and maybe it changes every day. Meal kits make people's lives easier by cutting down time on food prep, but still make for a hearty lunch or dinner."

9) Restaurants will expand menu options for takeout and delivery

"Takeout no longer centers only around pizza and fast food," said Riehle. "Traffic and meal occasions are becoming more and more centered around the restaurant — and not just a small, select menu — coming to consumers."

10) But even with so many convenient food delivery options, plenty of people will still flock to brick-and-mortar restaurants for unique social experiences

Over the past 60 years, Americans' spending on food has consistently shifted toward restaurant spending, according to Riehle. He said he doesn't expect that to change in 2020, with people's digital lives leading them to value even more the social aspect of dining at a brick-and-mortar restaurant. "There are two reasons people go to a restaurant: convenience and socialization," Riehle said. "While there is a long-term trend of restaurants coming to consumers and people having more meal occasions centered around delivery or takeout, people do still crave being at a physical restaurant for being around other people, for that atmosphere you can't recreate at home, and for special occasions."

Article sourced from Business Insider.