Foodservice Industry Trends for Fresher Tastes and Future Plates

While flavors and ingredients are certainly part of the driving force behind foodservice industry trends, they’re not the only factor. For restauranteurs and foodservice operators across the industry, attracting and delighting today’s customers should consider more than just the food. That’s right, the ingredients and flavors aren’t the only trends worth considering. In fact, they’re not even at the top of foodservice industry trends in 2024.

Every year, the National Restaurant Association (NRA) releases its What’s Hot Culinary Forecast. In this year’s report, social media was identified as the top “Macro Trend” by over 1,500 culinary professionals. Embracing platforms such as TikTok can be a priority for operators, as it fosters a dynamic exchange of influence. Viewers play a crucial role in propelling restaurant dishes to viral status, while restaurants can leverage online food trends to inspire innovative menu additions or limited-time offers (LTOs).

But while social media is an effective, visual marketing tool, the flavors of the food are still essential. Here are some menu trends to look for in 2024.

Menu Trends Will Lead to Pandemonium on the Plate

baked brie in a cast iron skillet

Drawing inspiration from the melting pot of global cuisines, chefs are embracing the chaos on the plate like never before. Global flavors and fusion dishes are popular, so expect to see a blending of tastes, textures, colors, and flavors as today’s operators look for bold, flavorful dishes from around the world. From internationally inspired soups to eclectic grilled cheeses, chefs will continue looking outside their borders for inspiration.

Speaking of soups, they’re at the forefront as comfort food, offering warmth and satisfaction. They effectively bring a touch of familiarity to the table. They serve as a safe introduction to new ingredients and flavors while being economically advantageous for restaurants looking to diversify their menus. Additionally, soups and stews have gained traction on social media platforms like SoupTok, making them highly shareable and potentially viral. Their portability and perception as healthy options further contribute to their popularity, adding to the pandemonium on the plate, or in the bowl.

Beverages Are Highly Popular (and Profitable)

two cups of Irish coffee on a table

According to Technomic, adult beverages are by far the highest average price by mealpart, exceeding entrées by more than double. Beverages are currently driven by the popularity of straight grappa, the Negroni cocktail, and hard coffees. At the same time, one of the hottest trends in adult beverages is the decrease in alcohol, as zero-proof and low-alcohol cocktails are gaining favor.

Top non-alcoholic beverages in demand include nitro cold brew, energy drinks, and functional waters, focusing on products that provide energy and offer health benefits. Energy drinks and functional waters are increasingly popular for their promises to enhance focus, improve stamina, aid gut health, and reduce inflammation. Oftentimes, they contain natural ingredients, vitamins, amino acids, probiotics, electrolytes, and other health-related additives without compromising flavor. These beverages allow consumers to explore intriguing flavors like black currant, passionfruit, dragonfruit, elderflower, hibiscus, and unique flavor combinations.

Exploring Regional Flavors and Unique Condiments

close up of pickles on top of nashville hot chicken

When crafting granular menus, chefs are tapping into regional flavors that resonate with customers across the country. Diners can now find expanding options ranging from Carolina, Kansas City, and Texas BBQ sauces, sharing space on menus and tables with New York, Chicago, and Detroit pizza styles. Operators are also drawing regional inspiration from specialties like Nashville hot chicken.

In the realm of condiments, Tajin is becoming a staple in kitchens, adding a kick to everything from fruit to savory dishes with its blend of salt, dehydrated lime juice, chile peppers, and garlic. Meanwhile, unique condiments like Tkemali, a tangy Georgian plum sauce, and pandan, a powdered Asian leaf boasting hints of rose, almond, and vanilla, are adding depth and complexity to dishes. With its pineapple and mango undertones reminiscent of a tomatillo, golden berry is also gaining popularity as a versatile ingredient. Chefs are creatively incorporating these condiments into dishes like chili crisps and Tajin-sprinkled elote, sparking social media shares and enticing diners with new flavor sensations.

Embrace Foodservice Industry Trends with Middleby and Our MAINS Courses

The only way to successfully embrace many of these foodservice industry trends is to see how they’re brought to life in the kitchen. Our Middleby Academy of Innovative New Solutions, or MAINS, is a great way to dive into these trends and more in a fun, educational setting. Check the schedule to see a course that interests you!

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National Restaurant Association


Topics: Beverage, Foodservice Industry Trends, Restaurants