Time just seems to be flying by as the first month of the new year is already more than halfway in the bag. Before we know it, we’ll all be making a similar observation about the first half of 2023. If 2023 is off to a less than awesome start just remember that, like the song said, it’s never too late to start all over again.

If you’re looking for a new approach to try out in your product offerings, Technomic’s recently published 2024 Menu Predictions Third Quarter report highlights the foodservice market research firm’s top 50 predicted fastest-growing ingredients, flavors, preparations and other menu innovations by Q3 2024. The report’s predictions for emerging proteins at foodservice include:

  • poke (diced raw fish or meat served as an appetizer or main course)
  • plant-based beef analogs
  • coppa (a traditional Italian dry-cured pork salume)
  • churrasco (grilled meats, particularly beef)
  • and rabbit.

Technomic’s research shows plant-based beef is the lone meat alternative in the top 50, with plant-based cheese, pork and poultry all off from previous predictions. IRI retail data supports this, showing month-over-month and year-over-year declines for plant-based meat alternatives for the conventional multi-outlet (grocery, mass/supercenter and club) channel. In addition to negative dollar growth, unit sales for meat alternatives also declined versus year-ago levels. Plant-based meat alternatives’ fresh and frozen combined dollar sales were $83.97 million for December 2022 (down -3% from December 2021) and unit sales were 14.5 million (down -12.3%). For all of 2022, total plant-based protein sales were $1.18 billion (down -0.3%) with unit sales of 220 million (down -8.2%).

Technomic’s forecast also predicts global dishes as a rising trend, with this trio joining the top 50 fastest growers:

  • birria (a Mexican meat stew or soup)
  • bao (filled buns)
  • and poutine (French fries covered in gravy and other toppings; I suggest pulled pork).

Technomic notes several other up-and-coming “global and regional cuisines,” including:

  • Ethiopian
  • Philippine
  • and Texas-style.

Moving off the menu, Technomic’s market research finds that consumer purchasing behavior that migrated to online platforms during the pandemic has returned to in-person dining despite widespread availability of digital channels. For restaurants, traditional hospitality and prioritizing guests’ experience are key.