Survey Says Guests Will Crave Connection, Value, and Convenience in 2023
Off-premise restaurant meals have grown in popularity over the past couple of years but consumers are eager to get back to more in-person dining, according to the National Restaurant Association’s annual What’s Hot survey. Researchers say pent-up demand for in-restaurant experiences is strong with two-thirds of those surveyed ready to eat on-premises.
The NRA’s annual What’s Hot Culinary Forecast offers a detailed look at the topics, trends, and products expected to drive restaurant menus in the coming year across a variety of categories including daypart occasions, menu categories, beverages, flavors, global inspirations, and industry macro-trends.
“The What’s Hot forecast for 2023 is an evolutionary reflection of both pandemic trends and current economic pressures,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research for the association. “Inflation is shifting consumer spending habits, and while there is a heightened appetite for restaurant experiences and connection, diners are laser focused on finding value. The challenge is how to fuse consumer desires for the new and trendy with their expectations for price paid.”
Top 10 Hot Trends for 2023
- Experiences/local culture and community
- Fried chicken sandwiches and chicken sandwiches 3.0 (i.e., spicy and sweet-heat fusion flavors on chicken, etc.)
- Charcuterie boards
- Comfort fare
- Flatbread sandwiches/healthier wraps
- Menu streamlining
- Sriracha variations
- Globally inspired salads
- Zero waste/Sustainability/Upcycled foods
- Southeast Asian cuisines (Vietnamese, Singaporean, Philippine, etc.)
Cravings for restaurant dining are proving resilient amid inflationary pressures and customers are hungry to connect over shared meals that can’t be replicated at home. Trending global flavors including Southeast Asian and Caribbean cuisines and comfort foods with a twist will draw consumers; while charcuterie boards demonstrate the type of satisfying, shared dining experience that more guests are expected to seek out in 2023.
Restaurant operators are looking to streamline menus and create dishes with new ingredients to preserve value for guests, amid expectations that ingredient costs will remain high in 2023. Value meals, particularly in the breakfast category, are expected to be a draw for customers.
The National Restaurant Association partnered with the American Culinary Federation and Technomic to conduct its annual What’s Hot survey in October 2022. You can download the report here).
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