Trending Now: Food and Flavor Predictions for 2020
Mnazaleh Mashup with Chickpea Casarecce

With the new year now underway, it’s a good time to take stock of all those pundit and expert predictions for food and flavor trends in 2020. We’re here to divide the wild and crazy from the real as we look ahead.

First, though fears of a downturn are growing, the economic indicators all still look positive for the foodservice industry in the year ahead. Unemployment remains below 4%, wages are rising, and foodservice sales are expected to grow, if a bit slower than the past few years.

We looked at trend predictions from Datassential, The Culinary Edge, Kimpton Group, Flavor & the Menu, and Technomic, among others, and found some common themes that made sense to us as well. The below are just a few examples – we’ll focus on more, like takeout, delivery, and kids meals 2.0, in future editions!

Transparency 2.0 – Transparency has been a buzzword for a while now, but many trend-watchers see this going to another level. Yes, it’s about being open and honest about sourcing, but it also means keeping all your practices clean and above-board: from GMOs to fair trade, halal to humane, carbon-neutral to local, to diverse and inclusive. And just keeping it clean isn’t enough– brands today are expected to be supporting causes and taking an active role in achieving solutions. Younger demographics and instant connectivity have made all of these issues immediate and relevant. It’s crucial to know what your customers– or the customers you want to attract– care about, and tell the stories that let them know you do too.

Barilla insight: Barilla is fully committed to doing our part to further sustainability, diversity, and inclusion. For our foodservice customers, they know they can serve us with pride and confidence, whether your guests are interested in non-GMO, plant-based, or diversity and inclusion. We can help you demonstrate to your guests that you’re making positive supply-chain choices, and get credit from them for doing so. Check out for more.

Mashing Up Eastern Mediterranean – Even though foods of the “Levant” (Israel, Morocco, Syria, Turkey and Egypt) have been dubbed emerging flavors for what seems like three years running, most trend-watchers see this continuing with some evolution. As Flavor & the Menu magazine sees it, these flavors are ripe for “mashups” with other popular cuisines, like Italian, Southern, Mexican, and even Japanese. Think an Israeli “mole” sauce – with baharat, harissa and chocolate in place of traditional Mexican ingredients.

Harissa Pomodoro Spaghetti

“There’s big opportunity in playing with Eastern Med formats and applying spice blends from Japan, Mexico or Vietnam, for example,” says trend expert Maeve Webster of Menu Matters. “A number of the Eastern Mediterranean’s most familiar formats are recognizable throughout the world— flatbreads are in every culture, many cuisines boast some kind of kebab, and many have bean or vegetable dips.”

Put another way, these eastern Mediterranean flavors are now mainstream enough to join the “mashup” cuisine culture that’s happening across foodservice menus.

Barilla insight: Eastern Med flavors are a natural pairing with pasta and tend to combine really well with Italian ingredients. Think Middle Eastern lamb, but served as a sugo over a long-cut pasta. Or using the bright flavors of zhug as a kind of pesto to coat pasta, roasted veggies, and a char-grilled healthy protein. Using pasta this way makes less familiar flavors approachable and a comfortable order for the guest. Check out some of Chef Yury’s favorite combinations in the Barilla Test Kitchen.