Major Food and Beverage Trends in 2013

Every year sees new shifts in the culinary landscape that effect how the restaurant industry does business. For example, 2012 saw the rise of many new trends, such as bread alternatives like arepas and Bao, “odd” animal parts such as gizzards, tripe, tongue and pigs’ ears, increased popularity of Korean food and even the move of many food-truck proprietors to brick-and-mortar locations.

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So what’s next in 2013? There are certainly some new changes fast approaching on the horizon, but there are an equal amount of shifts that build off developments of years past. Here’s a look at how current trends are shaping the world of dining and drinking this year.

More artisan watering holes

Be it in a hotel or down the street, expect to see more and more bars lined with little extras such as house-made syrups and bitters, all used to create new and exciting handcrafted cocktails. Even major chain restaurants, such as TGI Fridays, are getting in on the action by offering more and more specialty drinks, like the Tiki Torch, and “adult soda fountain” drinks like the alcohol-infused shakes and smoothies.

Some bars are even manufacturing small-batch barrels of cocktails in order to offset the amount of time it makes to prepare a single labor-intensive drink. Of course, all this extra work means cocktail prices are steadily on the rise, with bar patrons regularly shelling out $15 dollars or more for one drink at prime watering holes.

Even more fast-casual options

The popularity of Chipotle signaled a major shift in how consumers approached dining out. Not only did many consumers eschew traditional fast food in favor of fast-casual options, but now many of these same diners are bypassing full-service restaurants in favor of fast-casual options as well. This has the direct effect of making nearly everyone in the restaurant business want to get in the “fast-cas” game. Expect to see even more of these kinds of options spring up in 2013 that are based around everything from pizza and Greek cuisine to hot dogs and Indian food.

Fast food tries to level the playing field

As mentioned above, fast casual is currently the prettiest girl at the dance, and there isn’t a whole lot that standard fast-food restaurants can do to compete. But that isn’t stopping them from trying. In 2013, look for more and more chains such as McDonald’s and Burger King to offer higher-priced menu items featuring “artisanal” buns of varying colors and unique add-ons such as goat cheese and guacamole.

A rise in kiosk payments

The notion of paying for food through kiosks and vending machines is nothing new (much of Japan’s consumer culture is based around this practice), but it is expected to take off big time this year. Many restaurant chains, such as McDonald’s, are adding more touch-screen payment kiosks – which have served them well already in Europe – to more of their locations in the U.S. Even cupcake chain Sprinkles, located in Los Angeles, manages to sell 1,000 items daily via their “24-hour cupcake ATM.”

Bundling to the extreme

Most diners have probably noticed all those 2-for-20 or 3-for-40 deals advertising a certain amount of courses for a set price at chain restaurants such as Chile’s or Outback Steakhouse. But upscale independent restaurants are raising the notion of “more for less” to an art form by offering diners the entire animal. Independents across the country are now offering whole pigs and whole lambs with mountains of sides and a substantial desert course for hundreds of dollars. Typically, these “whole beast” deals feed 6-8 people.

These are just a few trends that are shaping the world of food and drink in 2013. Like trends of years past, these shifts will likely build upon one another to the point the entire culture of eating will change in just a few short years.

“Ryan Berman is a restaurant equipment technician and freelance writer. He enjoys sharing his tips on various food blogs. To learn more about commercial oven options visit the link.”

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