Mintel: Social Awareness, Innovation Shape Top Four Foodservice Trends for 2019

Press enter to search
Close search
Open Menu

Mintel: Social Awareness, Innovation Shape Top Four Foodservice Trends for 2019

Fast casual

CHICAGO — The foodservice landscape will continue to evolve in 2019, with changes driven by increased awareness around social and environmental responsibility and innovation in technology-enabled customer service, according to market intelligence agency Mintel.

Four trends in particular are likely to have a notable impact on the U.S. restaurant industry this year: 


Restaurants are showcasing more of their personalities in the form of branded merchandise, branded collaborations featuring limited-time offers and contests that boost brand appeal. These initiatives establish customer relationships and relevancy, and build brand ambassadors.

"In the year ahead, expect restaurants to take customer engagement a step further by creating a sense of community with their patrons. Knowing that diners want to align themselves with brands that fit their lifestyle, restaurants can meet diners halfway by taking a stance on social and political issues and supporting organizations that are important to them," said Mintel's Amanda Topper, associate director, foodservice research. "The most successful brands will be those that are personable and form transparent relationships with diners."


Consumers are aiming to incorporate more environmentally responsible practices into their lives and they expect the same from the businesses they patronize, including restaurants.

Diners depend on restaurants to draw on environmentally friendly business practices, from compostable straws to upcycled food scraps. This gives restaurants the opportunity to make consumers feel good about the decisions they make, including where they buy their meals.

"With more restaurants adopting environmentally friendly practices, sustainability will become the new normal, and operators will need to take more innovative steps to stand out. Expect to see restaurants make changes to the way they operate in 2019, including partnerships that put the greater good above competition and circular economies that benefit the environment and the people involved in the food systems," Topper said.


Labor is a top concern for the foodservice industry, with humans playing a central role, despite the development of technology and robots in order to reduce costs.

In 2019, restaurants will find more creative ways to attract and retain top talent, and in turn will build loyalty in their communities by supporting the causes that matter most to their customers.

"Employee retention programs and community outreach initiatives will be crucial for brands in 2019," the associate director noted. "Although mental health care and sexual harassment protections seem like they should already be basic necessities, these issues are ongoing in the restaurant industry. With national awareness mounting for both, expect to see restaurants implement stricter procedures and protocols surrounding these issues in an effort to better protect and support their employees."


Restaurants are rolling out innovative technology that allows consumers to have quicker transactions, shorter wait times and meals delivered straight to their door. Future innovations must continue to benefit customers first and foremost as they seek a balance between operational efficiency, a desire for human interaction and excellent service.

"As restaurant technology continues to become more sophisticated, the way consumers order will dramatically change moving forward. Restaurants will utilize technology to heighten customer experiences and provide value through more personalized service. By implementing technology with tangible benefits for customers, such as greater customization and more intuitive recommendations, operators will be able to drive efficiency and better customer service," she concluded.