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2020 in restaurants: trends

What a world we live in!

All around us, technology is advancing, people are becoming more aware of sustainability and life is getting faster. With so much change, it is hard to imagine what our planet will look like in the far future.

Yet we can make rough guesses of where the food industry will be in 2020, without the need of a crystal ball.

Health-conscious, Eco-conscious and Community-conscious food trends have recently been spotted, and these will shape, adapt and change the food industry as we know it. Care to sneak a peek at what lies ahead?

The Health-conscious trend

Those boozy nights and bar crawls are disappearing. Instead, the health-conscious youth is making the gym a social space, occasionally grabbing a glass of prosecco with gym-mates after a session to celebrate their achievements.

Technological innovations are yet again helping people eat the foods which are best for them, even when they don’t have time to cook. At Vita Mojo, a restaurant and take-away in London, UK, customers take a DNA test to find out what foods their body digests best. These results get stored on an app, which then helps customers order food tailored to their specific needs. The power of technology!

As people are becoming more aware of how our gut bacteria affects our mental state, there has been a growth in sales of pro-biotics and products claiming to benefit the gut. Although EU laws make such claims difficult to advertise, some restaurants are starting to promote dishes as beneficial for stomach health and alleviating depression.

The Eco-conscious trend

All hail the jackfruit burger! As people are becoming more aware of how plant-based diets are better for both planetary and human health, vegan restaurants are becoming part of mainstream society.

You know the annoyance of opening up a packet of crisps to find a stingy, half-empty packet? Well, those experiences may soon be gone with the companies taking action to reduce the amount of air in their snack packets. Not only does this save you pennies, but the result uses up to 37% less packaging. A win-win!

Many zero-waste stores and co-operatives are also making their appearance. Customers can bring their own re-usable containers and buy foods like cereal, beans, pasta, fruits and vegetables by weight. Since most are small-scale they also have a strong sense of community.

Neglected places and urban spaces shall no longer go to waste as urban agriculture takes hold. Vegetable walls and roof-top gardens are covering the grey skyline in a luscious green. Some restaurants are even growing their own vegetables using a compost made from their own waste!

Across all sectors, a major step up the waste hierarchy is taking place. Instead of recycling, citizens are being encouraged to re-use, with coffee shops offering exclusive discounts to customers who bring their own mugs and flasks.

The re-use motif has also spread to food distribution with wine now being supplied by keg or tap. The kegs and barrels can be returned to suppliers for re-use and it actually makes the wine taste better!

The Community-conscious trend

As urban agriculture is springing up across towns and cities, so are co-operatives which enable participants to share the food they grow. In one town in Germany, each participant cultivates a particular crop, which can be exchanged for some other crops for free. In this way, the ‘hyperlocal’ trend is coming back, encouraging communities to work together towards common goals, defined by the community itself.

Bold steps are being taken to change the concept of a bar. Instead of a standard bar separating the customer from the bartender, the “No Bar-Bar” trend is using island units and shared spaces to facilitate equality and positive interaction between everyone. Could this be the breakthrough the pub and bar industry needs to counteract falling interest?

Here in Lithuania, businesses are putting community first and profit second. The salad bar Mano Guru is a social enterprise, using its profits to help those who are marginalised reintegrate into society. They fund training course and counselling for people with addictions and a criminal record, helping to foster a society which is inclusive and productive for all.

Taking a step back, it is clear to see that these trends all morph into one big push towards sustainability; shifts towards plant-based diets are better for both planetary and human health. Through its various social, environmental and economic pathways, the food industry is becoming more sustainable. This is evidence to us all that being good to the planet does not need to come at the expense of human wellbeing. In contrast, it benefits us!

The ability to create a sustainable food network is here. All it takes is for each of us to take that little leap of faith to support these sustainable trends. Are you in?