From magnificent mushrooms to restaurants serving more early-dinner patrons to spelling out specifically the reasons why sustainability matters; the upcoming year is promising to be one of the most exciting in food culture yet! As both food marketers AND foodies, we at FoodMix continue to be fascinated and inspired as the world of food evolves and moves into the future. Take a peek at our predictions for what might be on the menu in 2023.
1. Sustainability Becomes More Specific.
Move over “sustainability washing,” and tell us exactly how you help the environment. Emerging earth-friendly practices such as regenerative agriculture is the next big thing in sustainability. These farming and grazing practices can potentially reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity – resulting in both carbon drawdown and improvement of the water cycle.
2. The Point Is to Become More Purposeful.
A company’s vision, mission and values used to be an afterthought that was basically decorative wallpaper in corporate headquarters. Now tuned-in values drive effective brand stories. The younger the target, the more important it is to appeal to consumers’ hearts and souls. Brands that can identify their authentic purpose – the WHY behind what they do – and work toward their purpose with real, meaningful action, will be primed for success.
3. This isn’t Your Grandfather’s Early Bird Special.
Restaurants are seeing an earlier dinner rush. This year has seen many New York City eateries filling up at hours that were once unfashionably early. Younger generations seem less interested in staying out as late as their older counterparts did at the same age. We predict 2023 will see early-dinner specials and loyalty programs (not just for Florida retirees anymore!) and earlier closing times at short-staffed restaurants that now empty out soon after dark.
4. Happy Days Are Not Quite Here Again – But That’s Reason to Eat Out.
Despite inflation and recession – or perhaps because of them – consumers will act on their need for feelings of connection and celebration that come from dining out with others. They may skip an appetizer or dessert to economize, but they will crave the togetherness and experiences missed during the height of the pandemic years. We expect consumers to return to restaurant dining rooms in 2023 because, really, nothing can replace in-person communal dining with family and friends.
5. Mushrooms Come Out of the Dark.
While the plant-based movement continues to find fertile ground, mushrooms have found opportunity in the culinary space for vegetarian/vegan and flexitarian consumers. Partly, for their success, is the ability for mushrooms to be a naturally plant-based superfood that is not processed (e.g., Beyond, Impossible, etc.). In addition, these umami-rich fungi lend themselves to various cooking styles and craveable preparations, including bowl toppers, seafood alternatives (e.g., scallops/calamari) or fried chicken substitutes, to name a few.
6. Social Media Will Further Drive Food Trends.
In an ironic twist, foot traffic is coming back at brick-and-mortar thanks to digital/social media. It comes down to consumer interaction and engagement with social media platforms that in turn drive store and restaurant traffic. For example, a recent TikTok story featured a recipe with feta cheese; consumers rushed to buy the ingredients from grocery stores, which quickly sold out of feta. A new study shows 53% of millennial TikTok users visited a restaurant after seeing it on the app.
7. Mocktails Will Get More Creative (and Healthier) with the Addition of Fresh Produce.
Many consumers (about half, according to recent research) are cutting back their alcohol consumption. Creativity reigns as liquor drinks are replaced with mocktails. Fresh produce will play a bigger role as healthy, novel ingredients turn interesting non-alcoholic mixers into colorful culinary works of art. Now that’s something to drink to!
8. Metaverse, Not So Fast.
Pioneers of the metaverse are retrenching. Maybe WEB 2.0 is further off than some predicted. Branded NFTs have lost their luster – the metaverse is driven by gaming and likely will continue to be as marketers strive to connect the virtual world with transactions – because, as it turns out, generating actual revenue from investments still matters.