Four Restaurant Trends in 2019 from Dining Alliance
GPO predicts what to watch for in the coming year.
Christina Donahue, president of Boston-based Dining Alliance, the nation’s largest group purchasing organization (GPO) for restaurants, forecasts the following trends in 2019:
1. Technology will play an even greater role in restaurant operations.
"A lot of restaurant tech startups got rolling a few years ago, and early adopters have taken advantage of improvements in everything from inventory to ordering to staffing and scheduling," says Donahue. "We’re moving out of the “new” phase as the market matures and technology will become more of the norm in a growing number of restaurant. As a result, restaurant technology companies will work to clean up their act when it comes to meeting customer demands for usability."
2. Eco-friendly packaging will take an even larger share of the container space.
"As more cities and states pass bans on styrofoam packaging (New York’s ban will go into effect January 1), and as consumers demand more social responsibility from the businesses they deal with, operators will be paying more attention (and more money) to the containers they package their food in. In 2018 alone Dining Alliance saw a 130% increase in paper and plastic to-go container purchases, compared to just a 20% increase in styrofoam."
3. Operators will pursue more vegetarian/meatless alternatives.
"Demand for meat-free items will continue to grow beyond just high end restaurants on the coast," Donahue says. Dining Alliance projects that orders for meat substitutes (veggie burgers, bean burgers, etc.) among its members will be 28.4% higher by the end of 2018 versus 2017. "What’s more, operators may seize on the opportunity to price these products at a premium, allowing for greater profitability."
4. The war for talent may help improve restaurant culture.
"The biggest struggle our independent restaurant partners tell us they face is finding good, reliable talent…on the floor and back in the kitchen. Good sous chefs and servers can be more picky than ever, which means its up to operators to create an inviting place to work. And that involves more than just money. Transparency between management and staff along with solid policies and procedures for handling HR issues helps to create a better culture. That will attract top talent just as much as a good wage."