As 2023 heats up, so do the trends. If we learned anything from the past three years, it’s how to stay nimble and adjust to changing environments. Most of us are not operating the same way we did pre-covid, but we can’t slow down or stop evolving now. If anything, we need to step on the gas. Trends are just that, they come and usually go. However, as Gen Z and the new Gen Alpha (born 2010 through 2024) become cafe customers, they expect a constant stream of newness. Here are a few trends to be aware of and hopefully adopt if you haven’t already implemented them.
There are a few business trends that cross all food-industry categories.
- Sustainability was given a pass during the pandemic. Sustainability is back at the top of the list. It’s a broad category, so specifically, consumers want to see environmentally-friendly packaging, reducing food waste, sourcing locally, and making decisions based on environmental impact
- As technology becomes more integrated into daily life, cafes are expected to offer more digital features such as mobile ordering, digital loyalty programs, and contactless payment options. Digital integrations really boil down to the fact that customers want convenience. As consumers’ lives become increasingly busy, convenience is becoming more important. This includes seeking out services and products that make their lives easier.
- Consumers are seeking out personalized experiences and products. This includes customized products and services, personalized recommendations based on their preferences, and tailored marketing. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to health and what consumers want. Instead, it’s all about personalization, as each consumer considers the diet and foods that fit their goals, age, and lifestyle.
Flavor trends are always fun. People are becoming more adventurous with their food choices and are increasingly open to trying new and unique flavor combinations. Global fusion flavors, which combine different cuisines and cultures, are expected to continue to gain popularity in 2023.
- Ube (pronounced OO-beh) is a purple yam that is popular in Filipino cuisine and is also used in other Southeast Asian dishes. It has a bright purple color and a slightly sweet, nutty flavor. Ube can be used in a variety of sweet dishes, including cakes, ice cream, and pastries, and is often used as a natural food coloring agent due to its distinctive color. Ube is also high in nutrients such as fiber, potassium, and antioxidants. Powder ube is best for beverages and is similar to matcha in its preparation.
- Yuzu is a citrus fruit that is native to East Asia, specifically China, Japan, and Korea. It is roughly the size of a tangerine but with a slightly lumpy exterior, and its flavor is described as a combination of lemon, grapefruit, and mandarin. Yuzu is highly aromatic and is commonly used in Asian cuisine, especially in Japan, where it is used in a variety of dishes such as sauces, marinades, dressings, candy, chocolate and desserts. Yuzu sparkling drinks and iced teas are where we see it used in a cafe.
- Cherry blossom, or sakura in Japan, is another flavor that is making its way across the Pacific. Cherry blossoms have a sweet and fruity rose flavor, almost like regular cherries, and sometimes sour depending on how genuine the taste is. From iced cream to LaCroix seltzer, sakura is popping up everywhere. It is usually found as a syrup or tea, but can be found as a powder.
- Coffee is being used increasingly for its functional benefits. Coffee shops are expected to offer more drinks that incorporate healthy ingredients such as matcha, turmeric, protein and collagen. These ingredients are believed to offer benefits such as increased energy and improved digestion. Cold brew is still trending, as it’s a great vehicle for adaptogens.
Above all else, innovation is essential. Consumers want new, exciting foods and flavors. One lesson from the 2008 recession: don’t lock yourself into low prices and value meals. It’s not a race to the bottom, but a race to be innovative and fresh. Our customer base is more sophisticated so they expect more service, better quality ingredients and interesting/intriguing flavors.
Source: foodbytes 2023 trends, NCA coffee, chatgpt