People are dining out for healthier food.
Jackfruit, coconut and charcoal are among the top-selling menu items of the year, according to new data from restaurant management platform Upserve’s State of the Restaurant Industry Report for 2018.
The report analyzed 29 menu items predicted to be hot and charted their sales performance between 2015 and 2017, to help guide chefs on what to keep cooking up. The sales data was collected from 3,000 restaurants across the US and revealed some interesting food extremes — clean eats and meaty marvels like brisket, tacos and charcuterie are both trending up.
Jackfruit, the tree-born fruit that grows in Southeast Asia, Brazil and Africa, ranked as the top seller. The tropical fruit has been praised for its immense versatility. Since it has a relatively neutral flavor profile, it makes for the ideal vegan meat replacement because it also has a consistency that’s similar to chicken or pork so you can slice it up for salads and yogurts, or dice it up into a BBQ pulled jackfruit sandwich. Jackfruit saw a 131 percent growth in popularity since 2017, according to the report.
Cauliflower takes a close second with sales of the veggie continuing to sprout through 2017 and trending even higher in 2018. It’s another excellent alternative to meat, as chefs grill up cauliflower veggie steak.
Charcoal, the much hyped lump of coal you’re seeing in many beauty products, has also been darkening up cocktails with spirits such as rum and a little pineapple juice, or lighter combos like gin and fresh lemon juice. The activated ingredient is used to draw impurities out of the body. And coconut, found in everything from smoothies to cake and curry, has also seen immense growth.
“The charcoal one definitely took me by surprise. This isn’t something that’s in every bar or cocktail, it’s still a relatively small segment, but it’s clearly on the rise. It’s more of a reaction on the health food side and what you see on the morning talk shows making its way into the restaurants,” says Noyes.
Meanwhile, meatier items like brisket, charcuterie and tacos have been trending up in popularity, along with the culinary technique of fire roasting meats.
Other once hot items like sorghum, poke, turmeric and fermented foods don’t have as much staying power, according to the report.
“I don’t think this necessarily signals less of a desire for things like turmeric and kombucha, it just might be an example of type of food that’s popular for at home consumption, not at a restaurant,” says Noyes.
Here is a full list of foods that are hot and not so trendy anymore at restaurants: