The temperatures are dropping, but 2017’s dining trends are heating up! Experts agree: this year will see the rise of healthy, sustainable eating. New ingredients, techniques, and philosophies about food are coming soon to a table near you.
Picture this: a drone arrives at your door to deliver a purple salad, coconut tortilla chips, and a mushroom shake. Science fiction or sensible forecast? The restaurant industry is poised to make some big changes this year, and these trends are just the beginning.
1. Delivery Drones & Automation
Google’s new project is taking off – literally. Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., has met with several grocery stores and restaurant chains to discuss the future of food delivery by drone. They hope to launch Project Wing in the next 1-3 years. The partnership between European companies Just Eat and Starship Technologies has a similar goal: their slow-moving Starship drones began trials in London last summer.
Forbes reports that “automation will become a bigger mainstay in and throughout 2017.” We’ve already seen self-service kiosks at big chains like McDonald’s and Panera. As that technology gets more affordable, we’ll see the trend trickle down into other quick-service restaurants as well.
2. Purple Reign
This year, purple cabbage, cauliflower, potatoes, carrots, blueberries, and plums will make your chef’s new creations healthier and more visually appealing. “Essentially, the darker the colour of a food, the higher the contents of antioxidants and nutrients will be,” Joanna Freedman reports for The Telegraph.
3. Drink To Your Health
Beyond kombucha and fresh-pressed juice, Whole Foods is betting on a rise in healthy drinks with many new colors and flavors. Get ready for gourmet kava, apple cider vinegar, turmeric, and medicinal mushrooms, to name a few. Kava bars are already opening up around the country, and it looks like this niche will get even more reach in 2017.
4. Coconut EVERYTHING
“Move over coconut oil and coconut water. They say coconut flour tortillas, coconut sugar. Coconut everything is going to be hot,” says Michel Martin, reporting for NPR’s All Things Considered. This food is so versatile that you can accurately call it a fruit, a nut or a seed – and it doesn’t stop there. It serves as a low-carb alternative to wheat flour, a sugar substitute with a low glycemic index, and a dairy-free stand-in for milk. It’s this year’s healthy nut for all the health nuts out there.
5. Waste Not, Want Not
Several sources report that 2017 will see a surge in recipes that use each part of every ingredient. “We’ve started to see some people come up with, and start selling chips made out of the pressed solids from the juices they make,” says Dana Peck, co-founder of the flavor lab Pilot R+D. Business Insider similarly predicts innovations in the ways companies and chefs utilize scraps. “For example, Eco Olea is using water from its olive oil production as the base for a household cleanser line, and Sir Kensington’s is repurposing leftover liquid from cooking chickpeas in a vegan mayo,” reports Hayley Peterson.
6. Prep Kits
The National Restaurant Association’s prediction is echoed by big chains like Whole Foods: meal prep is becoming more popular. The quick growth of services like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh demonstrates surging interest in meal prep kits. With more people pressed for time to cook and money to spend eating takeout, the average eater is starting to plan meals further in advance.
7. Virtual Victuals
Delivery-only restaurants are cropping up across the country. David Chang invested in Maple in 2013, and the app-based food delivery system saw such success that he opened another similar project last year. Ando, run by Chang in the style of his famous Momofuku, delivers to diners in New York City’s Midtown. Chang’s celebrity may have catapulted this business model into the public eye, but San Francisco started the trend: Sprig and the now-closed Spoonrocket opened on the West coast in 2013. Experts agree that delivery-only restaurants will grow more popular than ever in the coming year.