The National Restaurant Association (NRA)’s annual survey of chefs looks to identify food and beverage trends for the coming year. Approximately 650 chefs, all American Culinary Federation members, predicted what will be prevalent on menus for 2019.

Bakeries and sweets shops are part of the report. The NRA asked chefs to name the top trending snacks and sweets for 2019.

The top five:

  1. Thai-rolled ice cream
  2. Donuts with non-traditional filling 
    (liqueur, Earl Grey cream)
  3. Chocolate (responsibly sourced, new flavors)
  4. Injera chips
  5. Artisan/house-made ice cream

Sustainability continues to dominate food trends across many categories. Nielsen-Massey Vanillas, for instance, sees big opportunity in the coming year. As the market for vanilla stabilizes, the company has looked to introduce new products, expand its retail presence, and bolster its e-commerce presence.

Nielsen-Massey has examined consumer trends to dictate the new products it has introduced in 2018 and will introduce in 2019, all of which are sustainable, all-natural, allergen-free, certified GMO-free, kosher, and gluten-free. In January, the company became the first brand to offer five distinct, single-origin pure vanilla extracts from Tahiti, Mexico, Madagascar, Uganda, and Indonesia. The Ugandan and Indonesian Pure Vanilla Extracts have been available to industrial customers, but for the first time will be available as part of the company’s retail and foodservice lines. Both extracts were launched at the 2019 Winter Fancy Food Show.

According to the restaurant industry report, the top food trend for 2019 is CBD and cannabis-infused food and beverages. Nearly 77% of the chefs surveyed ranked cannabis and CBD-infused beverages as the top trend, and 76% of them ranked cannabis and CBD-infused food as the second most popular trend. They believe it will create unique cuisine opportunities and promote experiential dining occasions.

“These foods, already popular in consumers’ own homes, are now poised to ignite sales at restaurants and foodservice operations,” says Hudson Riehle, the National Restaurant Association’s senior vice president of research. “It’s no secret restaurant customers seek new food experiences when dining out. Chefs are listening to that request and offering them the foods they want. That’s good for guests and business.”

Another big trend for 2019 is plant-based proteins. According to 64% of the chefs surveyed, plant-based sausages and burgers will be big because of their appeal to vegetarians and vegans, their sustainability, and their flavor and texture. Over 69% of chefs surveyed said that ethnic-inspired items would be the year’s top food trend, especially when it comes to breakfast foods.

Vegetable substitutes for carbs are on the rise as well. Noodles made of vegetables like zucchini and beets have become more prevalent on restaurant menus, and that will continue in the New Year.