Where do food trends come from and who decides what the next cronut will be? Influences include pop culture, fashion and health fads. Sometimes, food trends originate from chefs and are reworked by restaurants for a broader audience. Like other areas of culture, food trends are tracked through every stage from early adopters through proliferation and into restaurants. Let’s take a look at the food trends that are dominating the restaurant scene in 2018.

Marketers often target millennials, who represent a powerful and fast-growing group of consumers, by creating food with visual appeal that will make it camera-ready. Last year a group of food bloggers demonstrated the power of social media when they made a joke post about a Starbucks Rainbow drink that racked up thousands of likes and went viral in a matter of days. In a more recent example, New York’s Big Gay Ice Cream made a soft serve ice cream that was dusted with Cheetos dust. Say “cheese!”

Plant-based alternatives

Vegetarian and vegan food are no longer just an afterthought on restaurant menus. As more people adopt a healthy lifestyle, expect to see some plant-based alternatives to your faves popping up such as vegan cheese, vegan ice cream and almond milk milkshakes. Be sure to keep up your protein intake by getting your hands on some lentils, quinoa, black beans and seitan.



We like sushi, we like burritos, we’re pretty sure we’ll like this new sushi burritos concept that has hit Joburg. It consists of fresh ingredients wrapped burrito-style with an outer layer of seaweed or rice paper. There is an extensive menu including the obligatory chicken and guacamole, Baos, Poke salads and one-of-a-kind desserts.

Tech and food

If you’re wondering what’s next on the horizon for food trends, here’s an exciting one that combines the food industry with advances in technology. This year, augmented reality menus could make their first appearance in restaurants. Using technology, customers can now enjoy new restaurant experiences by using smartphone apps to view features on menus such as calorie counts, ingredients and preparation information. And here’s another interesting technological titbit: Chinese restaurants are already using facial recognition for payments. Imagine paying for your coffee with your face instead of your bank card!

If you are a restaurant owner and want to keep up to date with restaurant trends, download our e-book, The definitive 21st-century restaurant playbook. It provides food for thought and all the tips and tricks you need to keep you ahead in the restaurant business.

Author : Rudi Badenhorst