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The top 8 F&B industry trends to look out for in 2023

Food remains an integral part of our daily lives, and as our tastes and preferences continue to evolve over time, so do the trends that shape the Food & Beverage industry. As the global sphere opens up in 2023, with travel becoming more accessible to all, we can expect to see a continuation of some of the food trends that have been growing in popularity over the last couple of years, as well as the emergence of new and exciting developments.

In recent years, one of the biggest trends in the food industry has been a growing focus on sustainability. As consumers become increasingly concerned about their impact on the planet, they are looking for ways to eat more sustainably and reduce their carbon footprint. This has led to a rising demand for locally-sourced and seasonal ingredients, as well as more environmentally-friendly packaging options.

Another trend that is likely to continue in 2023 is the surging interest in plant-based and flexitarian diets. Wellness comes to the forefront of people’s priorities in the wake of the global pandemic, as many reevaluate their dining choices in a bid to adopt a healthier lifestyle. With the growing awareness of the health and environmental benefits of reducing meat consumption, we can expect to see more innovative plant-based options on menus across the food industry.

Comfort food and back-to-basics cooking will remain popular in 2023, as diners direct their focus towards local experiences, and in doing so, rediscover and reinterpret classic dishes. Over the last three years, many chefs have sought inspiration inwards due to closed borders. Out of necessity, chefs have been encouraged to gain a deeper understanding of local cooking techniques and ingredients, reinterpreting classic flavours with a creative twist. This movement will persist throughout 2023, with a few adjustments as global travel restrictions continue to relax.

As the global landscape continues to change and affect restaurant businesses, it is important to take note of existing and emerging trends. By staying on top of the latest food trends, we can better understand the changing tastes and preferences of consumers, and pave the future of the F&B industry. To simplify things, we’ve compiled a list of the top 8 Asian F&B industry trends to consider in 2023.

1. Cross-border collaborations return in full-force.

At its core, the F&B industry is a global community that relies on face-to-face interactions, and after a three-year hiatus on social gatherings, professionals and consumers alike have an increased hunger for human connection. As travel restrictions relax around Asia, international guest chef and mixologist events, overseas restaurant pop-ups, and collaborative 4-hands dinners are expected to gain traction in restaurants and bars across the region.

In Hong Kong, where domestic collaborations have dominated over the last year, establishments such as The Aubrey and La Paloma are looking at guest collaborations with international chefs and mixologists, offering diners a range of unique experiential dining opportunities. With borders open, chefs also have the opportunity to go abroad in search of inspiration from other chefs. These exchanges will facilitate the emergence of cross-cultural cuisines, as chefs with different culinary backgrounds share the unique flavours and ingredients of their home countries. Expect unique fusion dining experiences, such as Korean-Spanish tapas, Western-Japanese food, Asian interpretations of classic cocktails, modern takes on local comfort dishes, and much more.

2. Restaurants turn to tech in response to staff shortages.

One of the biggest obstacles that plagued the global F&B industry over the past 3 years was the issue of labour shortage, which continues to exacerbate as diners return to on-premise dining following the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions. To tackle these issues, more restaurant operators and chefs will need to adopt digital tools such as QR menus, cloud kitchens, and delivery apps, in order to keep up with evolving consumer preferences with less manpower. As digitally-savvy Gen Z and Millennials become more accustomed towards efficient and automated dining practices, fine dining establishments will begin to use digital tools to curate more seamless experiences that satisfy the needs of younger customers.

3. The rise of experiential and exclusive dining experiences.

COVID-19 restrictions are becoming less of a barrier to dining, and more customers are opting to dine in rather than ordering takeout. As such, there is a higher demand for immersive dining experiences that are curated from start to finish. Private dining grew in popularity during the pandemic as restaurants sought out new alternative revenue streams. This trend of private dining rooms and chef-led tasting menus will continue to surge as affluent diners from other countries visit the city, and as local gourmands demand more immersive experiences.

“Dinnertainment” such as themed dinners and interactive dining experiences focused on chef performances and food presentations will also be given centre stage, to satiate appetites for multi-dimensional dining.

4. Sustainable culinary practices become more essential than ever.

Over the past few years, there has been a clear shift in how people relate with food in terms of its environmental impact. Consumers desire more transparency, as they seek out more natural and sustainably sourced food to reduce their carbon footprint. Organic, locally-grown ingredients and seasonal produce are put into the spotlight, and connections between chefs, farmers, fishermen, and food suppliers are essential in pursuing sustainably-sourced ingredients. Employing sustainable practices also combats the issue of supply chain disruptions and inflationary pressure on food costs.

It has recently come to light that over 30% of food is lost or wasted each year, and more chefs are finding ways to minimise food waste in order to combat this pressing issue. Culinary creativity plays a crucial role in sustainable food practices, as chefs find ways to utilise all parts of each ingredient to minimise food waste, and raise awareness among diners with uniquely executed dishes.

5. Wellness-focused menus: unlocking a new generation of plant-based dining.

The uncertainties of the pandemic have also brought a new silver lining, whereby diners have become more conscious about their eating habits, choosing to prioritise their health by opting for ‘cleaner’ foods. Vegetarianism, veganism and plant-based foods are likely to keep soaring, as consumers discover the benefits of reduced meat consumption, and more customers are likely to actively seek out inclusive menus that cater to their specific dietary needs.

Chefs have also contributed to this movement, as more restaurants provide plant-based menus that showcase creative interpretations of their signature dishes, using alternatives for meat and dairy products such as Impossible Meat and plant-based milk. Concerns over animal welfare and sustainability also play a part in this growing trend, as more people become aware of the environmental value of having a primarily plant-based diet.

6. Solo dining experiences grow in popularity.

As more people embark on solo travels, there has been a steady trend in the number of customers happily choosing to dine alone. Consequently, there is a continued push for restaurants to erase the stigma around solo dining.

The rise of digital nomads has led to an increase in the number of people who visit restaurants and cafes in order to conduct business while enjoying a solo meal and drink, and more restaurants are accommodating these diners by optimising their spaces. Providing solo dining areas such as bar counters, cosy tables for one, or communal areas where individuals and groups can dine together can provide ample space for the growing number of solo diners, while allowing restaurants to maximise profit from each table.

7. A steady increase in ghost kitchens.

While the demand for on-premise dining experiences have surged, ghost kitchens and cloud kitchens are expected to continue to flourish, in response to the developing technologies for takeaway and delivery orders, staff shortages, and an increased desire for efficient dining. On one hand, ghost kitchens enable restaurants to reduce costs and increase profits, as multiple vendors and concepts can be operated within the same kitchen. Subsequently, ghost restaurant operators can also utilise digital ordering platforms to target different segments of the population with different tastes and preferences.

8. New variations on the trendy Butter Board.

For social media-obsessed foodies, the trendy Butter Board is no new feat, with the #butterboard hashtag on TikTok having a total of 236.9 million views and counting. Coined just a few months ago by recipe creator Justine Doiron, the Butter Board is essentially a charcuterie-inspired board of seasoned, softened butter smeared rustically over a wooden board. This idea has inspired numerous variations that extend beyond plain butter, appealing to all with its ‘Instagrammable’ presentation, versatility, and simplicity.

While currently unavailable on restaurant menus across Hong Kong, this food trend has picked up traction globally, with plant-based interpretations such as the Tofu Board and Hummus Board popping up, as well as dessert variations such as the Nutella and Peanut Butter Board. Restaurants seeking to stay ahead of the trends can experiment with their own variations of this food presentation, offering something exciting that diners can also showcase on their own social media feeds.

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