Conference food and beverage is no longer the boring, plain offerings with high carbs, sugars and fat that they once were. With the trend carrying over from our day to day life, food offerings at conferences have become healthier, more flavorful, and environmentally conscious. Before Covid-19 hit the US, conferences were on the rise and Whole Foods Market predicted the top 10 food trends for 2020 and out of those, the top six listed below are an easy trend we have seen and hope to see continue in the event industry.
1. Plant-Based Meat Alternatives
This is not just for vegans. As we have become more health conscious and more environmentally aware of the benefits of not eating as much meat, this industry has grown. We are definitely seeing more options offered at conference and more attendees listing dietary restrictions geared towards this. While meat is still served, the percentage of attendees with these restrictions are rising. No longer is soy the only option and has also become less desirable. Conference venues are continually coming up with unique and delicious options for these attendees and packing on the flavors.
2. Zero-Proof Drinks
We know what you are thinking…why? Well at least that is what we were thinking when we read this but it makes sense. At evening functions, the bar is a staple and not all can or want to partake. While water and soda are available, it’s nice to offer other options that are more fun and unique. It’s a new spin on the “mocktail” creating “classic cocktail flavors using distilled methods typically reserved for alcohol, creating an alternative to liquor meant to be used with a mixer rather then a drink on its own.” For your next event, try offering a faux martini!
3. Meat-Plant Blends
We have not seen this yet but it sure does sound interesting. For the flexitarians or just health/environmentally conscious carnivores, the meat-plant blend is born! The James Beard Foundation’s The Blended Burger Project was started years ago. The project focuses on making the traditional burger “better for customers and for the planet.” By blending at least 25% fresh mushrooms with the beef, it’s not only a healthy alternative, it’s also better for the environment. For the meat eaters, you will still be able to enjoy that classic beef flavor.
4. Single-Serve Snacks
This trend may have had a slow start pre Covid-19 but we can see this taking off once events are back in full swing. Single-serve, pre-packaged snacks have been a trend in grocery stores for years but as events grow and budgets tighten along with the growing health concerns, these options are going to be the norm once events pick back up. We were used to single-serve granola bars already, but the focus will be on “fresh” options now as well from “hard boiled eggs with savory toppings, pickled vegetables, drinkable soups and mini dips and dippers of all kinds.”
5. Not Your Mom’s Flour
This goes hand in hand with offering healthy alternatives but there is also a growing number of attendees with gluten allergies and intolerances. With products widely available now like cauliflower rice and almond flour, conference venues are quickly adopting these alternatives to their menu offerings.
6. Unique Flavors
We are all about flavor! According to Whole Foods Market, flavors from West Africa are a growing trend. From super foods like moringa and tamarind to rich, earthy dishes, these foods not only offer a unique flavor palate but can also contribute to a healthier option for your attendees.