Health, plant-based, sustainable and allergen-friendly. These are some of the key international trends expected to make an impact on the New Zealand food scene this year, according to recent research by the Restaurant Association.

The survey conducted last month asked respondents to share what they thought would be the biggest hospitality business, and food and beverage trends for the year ahead. Interestingly, two thirds of responses forecast the rise of healthy, plant-based food and a move toward environmentally friendly and sustainable production processes.

Dietary trends – including dairy-free, gluten free, FODMAP free etc – are also predicted to have more of on an influence on menu options in response to the demand for allergen-friendly options.

Restaurant Association CEO Marisa Bidois said many of the predictions reflect the current wellness trend that’s sweeping the globe. “The results are interesting in that they reveal consumers’ changing lifestyle choices, which include having more choice of vegan and vegetarian menu items, locally-sourced foods, and healthy options.”

“Many of our members have already adjusted their menus accordingly and offer either vegan or vegetarian food options, and/or have a focus on using local and sustainable produce.

Another recurring theme reflects a trend toward reduced alcohol consumption. With non-alcoholic and low ABV becoming increasingly important to millennials, the hospitality industry predicts New Zealand restaurants will respond with lower volume offerings, including non-alcoholic drink and food pairing.

Industry disruptors such as Uber Eats are predicted to change the way the restaurant industry provides services to its customers, with delivery and convenience set to be key areas of focus for the year ahead.

More than 60 percent of respondents believed that home delivery of restaurant quality food would become more important to customers in the year ahead.

“The culture of food delivery and ordering online is changing quickly, so this trend isn’t a particularly surprising one,” said Bidois. “With more consumers ordering food online with apps like Uber Eats, restaurants are gearing up for some change in this space but we want to ensure it’s at a reasonable cost to the restaurant.”

Top statistics:

  • 64% believe 2018 will see a demand for restaurants and cafes to provide locally-sourced, sustainable and plant-based cuisine
  • 44% mentioned a focus on health, including fresh and diet / allergen friendly options
  • 28% forecast an increase in vegan / vegetarian and plant-based offerings
  • 18.5% mentioned low alcohol and non-alcoholic food pairings increasing in popularity
  • 61% claim delivery and online ordering will be a key business trend
  • 23% mentioned an increase in healthy, ready-to-go meals