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5 Fast-Casual Dining Trends You Should Know About in 2020

These days, the restaurant industry has a lot to offer. From healthy fast-casual franchises steadily gaining traction, AI in the drive-through to robots cooking burgers to deliveries being made without even opening restaurants, the list goes on.

Here are five trends predicted to dominate the fast-casual restaurant industry this 2020.

The global foodservice and the fast-casual market are expected to increase at least 13% over the next five years, hitting $359 billion by the year 2023 according to an article by Fast Casual. Because of this, several trends and demands in the fast-casual industry can be expected within the next few years.

Increase in LTOs

Despite a dip in guest traffic here and there, restaurants continue to grow. One way restaurants do this is through more LTOs. LTOs or limited time offers effectively create a sense of short-lived and scarce opportunity which then forms a sense of urgency in the consumers.
This 2020, industry experts see a trend of fast-casual restaurants incorporating more LTOs into their marketing plans to drive traffic and help boost sales. Offer your consumers dine-in-only buy one get one deal, a value deal, or an over-the-top-product that they can avail only if they order in store.

Continued development in the restaurant technology space

In 2020, developments in the restaurant technology space will continue to influence changes in the industry. New solutions will be developed to help combat issues in the industry, with operators focusing on streamlining technology that will improve the lives of managers and their respective teams.
The technology is predicted to improve the work environment and help the employees create positive guest experiences every day.

Plant-based menu items

As fast-casual dining introduced a healthier alternative to fast-food, it’s no surprise that there will be an increase in plant-based proteins this year. The year 2019 brought about the proliferation of vegan and dairy-free options for consumers in restaurants.
These include cheese, chicken, beef, ice cream, and innovations for lamb, milk, and fish. These options cater to vegetarians/vegans and flexitarians. As consumers look for a wider variety of menu options that cater to their needs, plant-based food options will be at the forefront of restaurant trends in 2020.

Increase in Ghost Kitchens

Restaurant experts see an increase in ghost kitchens in the upcoming year. Using an existing restaurant’s kitchen to sell food from another brand or restaurant is not a new concept to consumers. As fast-casual restaurants expand their menu, a ghost kitchen can help broaden the options without large price or labor hikes.

Reducing the amount of food waste

In line with consumers being more health-conscious, they are also looking into restaurants and brands that are mindful of their food waste. Reducing food waste will continue to trend this year.
Consumers will continue to consciously choose brands that have established and known sustainable practices. Thus, it is incredibly important for foodservice and restaurant operators to implement programs that reduce their food waste.

Fast-casual dining is rapidly expanding, outpacing industry growth. Despite being a small segment in the industry (only about 9%), its influence is vast. Fast-casual concepts will continue to emerge and evolve in the coming years, offering innovative menu items and satisfying consumer demands.

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