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4 2021 Food Trends That are Shaping Restaurant Menus

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August 13, 2021

As we all ease back into a level of normalcy in 2021 after the pandemic interrupted much of our daily lives last year, we’re able to reflect on the many changes the foodservice and hospitality industry had to endure. Changes in available produce, restaurant capacity size, and more all affected both restaurants and consumers. Now, another change restaurants need to face is adjusting to consumer preferences. According to a recent Food and Health Survey from the International Food Information Council, more than four out of five people reported that COVID-19 changed their eating habits.

What Restaurant Menu Trends Will Chefs and Owners See?

If you want your menus to be ready with what customers can’t wait to eat, it’s essential to see how the pandemic has influenced consumers’ tastes. What food types have people missed the most? What eating habits have changed? New trends run from plant-based protein to crumbling cookies and more. The critical takeaway is to have a diverse menu while sticking to your brand. Check out more on these four trends and get your menu ready!


World cuisine has been on the foodie scene for a few years now. However, as restaurants had to shut down due to the health crisis, consumers had to find their international food fix at home. As a result, the pandemic created the opportunity for Americans to experiment with dynamic cuisines and gourmet flavors they were used to getting from their favorite restaurants. The new post-pandemic foodie will be expecting bold flavors, intriguing combinations like creamy harissa dressing, and exceptional ingredients.

2. Wellness Focused Meals

After over a year of working from home, an inability to hit the gym due to restrictions, and overall concern for boosting our immune systems, it’s no wonder that health food is a trend that is here to stay. More and more customers are looking to menus that embrace health while still offering delectable options. Comfort food with a wholesome twist is a newfound customer favorite. Heart-healthy, plant-based proteins are on the rise, with 42 percent of international consumers now considering themselves Flexitarians.

In terms of ingredient specifics, here’s a breakdown of ingredients consumers considered to be healthiest:

3. Simple Desserts

One of the most surprising trends to come as of late is the rise of the cookie. Even as health trends are up, the humble cookie is here to stay. During 2020, cookie consumption was up 25 percent, with up to 95 percent of Americans saying they eat at least one a day! While chocolate chip remains the favorite, vegan, gluten-free, and all-natural cookies are also gaining popularity.

4. Smoothies

Smoothies have been a popular beverage for decades. They pack delicious flavor, are filling, and can give your immune system a quick boost. Today’s consumers, however, are looking for innovative takes on the classic blended drink. Because Americans have expanded their palates during COVID-19, they expect more from their smoothies than just an immune boost. A great take on the classic smoothie is to think of it as more than just a to-go drink. Smoothie bowls are a great way to layer flavors and surprising combinations. Take exciting flavors like matcha and pineapple or use savory mixtures made from celery juice to bitter melon as your smoothie base and layer in sliced fruits for flavor or hemp seeds and granola for an extra crunch. 

Not only are these bowls trendy, but they also can help you use up your extra wholesale bulk produce, reducing your food waste.

Shop Wholesale Bulk Restaurant Food and Supplies

Revamp your menus and give customers what they crave with exceptional products from US Foods CHEF’STORE. We stock plenty of plant-based proteins, fresh fruit and vegetables, wholesale beverages, and more! Stop by one of our many locations and discover how we can help you create bold dishes at competitive price points. Don’t forget to sign up for our Customer Card or take advantage of grocery delivery!

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