An increasing number of customers are looking to create environmentally conscious and ethical decisions when it comes to their food choices. This means alternative diets such as veganism and vegetarianism are making their way into mainstream menus. Substitutions and accommodations for non-meat eaters will become a thing of the past, as entire menus are being crafted around the use of protein alternatives and plant-centric entrees. In conjunction with this push, companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are producing protein alternatives that mimic the look, taste, and texture of real meat.
While there will be no downturn in delivery, fine casual restaurants may find a surprising uptick in customers choosing to stay and eat in the dining area. That’s because more and more restaurants are emphasizing the dining experience, which in turn provides customers with more social satisfaction than eating at home.
There is also great future scope, as millennials and Generation Z, the largest group of consumers dining out, emerge as avid followers in the fine casual potential audience; more likely to pick a fast casual restaurant that provides deals and discounts over one that does not. While the concept isn’t new, fine casual restaurants will be using sharing plates and comfort foods to create hearty, filling dishes in unique ways. These include buddha bowls, ramen, poke bowls and grab and go options.
Increasingly, these new, and some old, consumers want to know where their food is coming from and the ethical impact it has on the environment and labor around the world. Fast casual restaurants can expect consumers to demand food transparency on their menus. This includes where the food was sourced from, calorie counts, and allergen warnings. Products deemed “fair trade” have been bought from producers at a fair price, often in developing countries. Common fair trade food items include bananas, honey, coffee, and tea.