Plant-based dishes have emerged as clear winners in a recently completed survey by the Restaurant Association of New Zealand.

According to the survey results hospitality owners see plant-based menus, technology and delivering exceptional experiences as 2019’s top dining trends.

The Restaurant Association, an industry body that represents more than 2300 hospitality businesses nationwide, asked its members to consider what they think will be the hottest trends in 2019.

Vegan, vegetarianism, technology and the overall quality of the dining experience itself, came out tops.

The key findings were:
1. 30 per cent forecast an increase in vegan / vegetarian and plant-based offerings
2. 20 per cent mentioned a move toward greater use of technology
3. 22 per cent forecast a need to deliver exceptional and bespoke hospitality experience.

“The global trend towards wellness coupled with a focus on environmental concerns and animal welfare is having an impact on consumer interest in more plant-based menu items,” Restaurant Association CEO, Marisa Bidois, said.

“Many of our members have already adjusted their menus accordingly and offer either vegan or vegetarian food options, and/or have a focus on using local and sustainable produce.”

The use of technology to take customer orders and process payments is also expected to be more prevalent over the coming year as hospitality businesses battle with increasing wage costs and staff shortages.

The interest in hospitality specific technologies in the short term could see restaurants able to offer more digitally forward payments methods as well taking online orders and managing deliveries and bookings.

The role of technology in the hospitality industry is one that is gaining momentum internationally and in the longer term could see us saying goodbye to cash registers, waiters and printed menus and hello to kiosks and tabletop ordering systems giving diners the opportunity to browse the menu, create their order, and pay for their meal without the need for wait staff.

This ordering technology will allow restaurants to manage increasing wage costs and to focus their efforts on back-of-house operations and customer service.

Bidois says that hospitality specific technology has continued to develop at pace over recent years, “The lack of skilled labour and increasing wage costs are putting a huge strain on business owners so the use of technology in restaurants could be beneficial in increasing efficiency and profitability without having to increase costs to diners.”

“However, whilst these systems are good for more casual eateries the higher end establishments still rely on human interaction to enable them to deliver world class experiences to their diners.”

“Good examples of this are physically, through the environment, the way the dish is served, the theatre surrounding it or how the dish is marketed and sold to them, the back story, the history of the producer or the heritage of the ingredients or even the cooking methods. These are all increasingly important considerations in what is a highly competitive industry and are crucial to attracting diners.”

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