Meeting Mentor Magazine

February 2023

Hot Plates: Top Food and Beverage Trends for 2023

What cutting-edge menu items will be winning attendees’ palates next year? Here are some trends that likely will be options popping up on catering menus in 2023.

F&B Trend: Good for guests and the planet: Sustainability continues to be top of mind and menu

Expect to see more demand for locally sourced ingredients, requests for proof that the venue is working with ethical suppliers, and real ways to reduce food waste and find new use for food that goes uneaten during the event. One interesting new trend in this area is brands that are upcycling the unused byproducts from non-dairy milk products, such as oat, soy and almond pulp, into new types of flours and ready-to-eat sweets. Plant-based pasta alternatives also are a growing trend, according to Whole Foods’ latest F&B trends report. If you plan to put seafood on the menu, be prepared to answer questions about the sustainability of its sourcing and production, according to Emerging.com. Or you could go with a seafood substitute. While they’re not yet as mainstream as Impossible Burgers, there now are plant-based seafood options made from everything from lentils, peas and fava beans to banana blossoms and jackfruit.

F&B Trend: We still want comfort food

Comfort food became socially acceptable — perhaps even essential — during the pandemic as attendees hunkered down with a big bowl of mac and cheese to munch during the virtual event. Now that they’re heading back to in-person events and meetings, they still are craving foods that scratch that nostalgia itch for simpler, more carefree times. According to Mintel Global Consumer research, 73% of US consumers still like nostalgic treats. While the classics are always appreciated, there also is a whole new crop of retro products that, according to Whole Foods, create “the ultimate mash-up of throwback indulgences with better ingredients and special diets in mind.”

F&B Trend: Fun, funky and global ingredients

While comfort food is still a must for many, others are ready to get a little more out-there as they venture back out there into the wider world. So think about adding a yaupon option to your coffee bar — the native American caffeinated holly plant is becoming increasingly popular in the population at large, according to Whole Foods’ latest F&B trends report. Research from Bidfood’s 2023 Food and Drinks Trends​ also found that a third of respondents say that emerging world cuisines score highly with them, including Cuban, Sri Lankan and Pan-African cuisines. Since these also are hard to come by in most local restaurant scenes, they could be a welcome addition to your event menu.

F&B Trend: DIY catering kits

Another trend that caught on during the pandemic was sending food and beverage packages to remote audience members so everyone could munch on the same items — not quite the same as breaking bread in person, but it was pretty well received. Those who attend digital-only or the digital piece of a hybrid event still appreciate easy-to-use DIY food kits, some of which even include food prep tools like pans and oven mitts, according to Total Party Planner.

F&B Trend: Change up the venue

One cool idea now catching fire is the speakeasy — a clandestine-feeling hidden bar with a cool vibe. If your venue has some interesting space and the creativity to create a speakeasy feel and a specialty food and cocktail menu, this could be one way to get people talking. Street food, particularly Asian street food, is a growing trend, according to Big Hospitality, so why not provide a street-food feel in the convention hall with some stands offering Cambodian, Indian or Vietnamese dishes? Another hot venue trend is the cultural hall — like food halls in that they offer shared dining experiences, but they also could have live music, DJs, comedy shows or whatever other entertainment you have on offer for the evening reception.

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About ConferenceDirect
ConferenceDirect is a global meetings solutions company offering site selection/contract negotiation, conference management, housing & registration services, mobile app technology and strategic meetings management solutions. It provides expertise to 4,400+ associations, corporations, and sporting authorities through our 400+ global associates. www.conferencedirect.com

About MeetingMentor
MeetingMentor, is a business journal for senior meeting planners that is distributed in print and digital editions to the clients, prospects, and associates of ConferenceDirect, which handles over 13,000 worldwide meetings, conventions, and incentives annually. www.meetingmentormag.com

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