Food trends for 2020 meetings and events – a world tour on your plate

published on December 26, 2019
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As events change in the age of the experience, so too do the culinary expectations of meeting attendees. Gone are the days of the sit-down conference banquet, replaced instead with quicker, more varied eating options to keep guests on their feet and engaged. Here’s our forecast for food trends to keep on top of with your 2020 events.

Think global, eat local

Attendees’ tastebuds are getting more and more globally-minded, with hungers growing for international cuisines. Many predict 2020 as the year for Levantine cuisine from Turkey, Lebanon and Israel at the forefront, while publications like The New Yorker are breathless for Georgian cuisine from the neighbouring Caucasus region. Travel-minded Gen-Z’ers also love sampling destination-specific flavours they won’t find anywhere else, while gourmands en masse are flipping for cross-cultural flavour clashes. Chefs blending Japanese with Jamaican or French with Finnish cuisines are leaving a lasting impression. But even with these globe-trotting tastes, the focus remains on locally sourced ingredients. And more than just sustenance, what’s for lunch is also becoming an important part in social media strategies. Give them something on their plates to post about!

New ways to go natural

The world’s tastes are shifting in bigger and bigger numbers towards plant-based diets, and events are following suit in offering meat and animal-product alternatives. Expect a focus on healthy snacks and hot ticket items like jackfruit and oat milk in 2020, along with an attendee desire for healthy snacks and meals with high protein content and energy-building ingredients. With six out of 10 Americans having dietary restrictions, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan and keto diets are becoming an important need on every event’s menus. Products derived from hemp are also making an increasing appearance on menus and ingredient lists, from munchies to cocktails.

Wastefulness is a thing of the past

2020 attendees demand a reduction in event waste, and an important area of focus is food. The keyword is sustainability, with a focus on smaller items and a desire to sample locally produced items – that in the process also shines a spotlight on area producers and flavours. There’s also a strong attention on the use of “ugly produce” or multiple uses for fruit previously thrown away after juicing. Montréal’s Le Mal Nécessaire, Pelicano, Peruvian-Japanese restaurant Tiradito and Pamplemousse have introduced waste-free processes that sees each piece of fruit zested, juiced, dehydrated for garnish, boiled down as cordial, or tossed in a blender as a salt infusion. Our trendsetting conference centre the Palais des congrés de Montréal has even converted their rooftop space into a vertical farm, vineyard and beekeeping area, with annual yields playing a unique part in event catering.

Grab and go, mix and mingle

As more and more meetings become experiential events, attendees’ hungers are shifting towards grab and go bites than scheduled mealtimes to keep them networking and interacting. And by allowing guests to pick and choose what they consume, attendee satisfaction increases. While some want a full-service breakfast, for others a cup of coffee and small muffin is enough – and can also help combat food waste.

Read this next: Montréal is a hotspot of urban sports events

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