A Look at the Top Trends of 2019


As the leading market research firm in the food industry, Datassential provides trend software, predictive analytics, and consumer insights to help manufacturers, food retailers, and chain restaurants innovate and sell more intelligently.

At the 2019 Maines Food Show, Mark DiDomenico, Director of Customer Solutions at Datassential, led a thought-provoking seminar that showcased research perspectives on the macro level forces that drive the way consumers eat today and will eat tomorrow. He took a deep dive into health and wellness, regional and ethnic cuisines, functional foods, generational influences, and other drivers that affect food and beverage consumption behaviors. DiDomenico left us feeling motivated, inspired, and ready to make the most of 2019’s trending concepts. We suggest you use some of the top trending concepts that DiDomenico shared in his seminar to captivate customers and push the boundaries on your menu.

Unexpected Herb: Papalo

Papalo (#035102) is a pungent, cilantro-like, ancient Mexican herb that’s on Datassential’s list of flavors and ingredients to watch in 2019. Believed to possess medicinal qualities, such as lowering blood pressure, papalo can be merchandised as a functional ingredient. This complex herb with strong hints of mint, citrus, and arugula is most commonly found in salsas but can heighten the flavors of numerous items.

On the Menu:

  • Las Catrinas, located in NYC, menus a milanesa offering featuring breaded beef or chicken topped with papalo, homemade chipotle, quesillo, avocado, and white onion. This flavorful meal can be complemented with the Papalo Pineapple Cooler.
  • Taqueria Huarache in the Bronx, NY, enhances many of its main entrées and sandwiches with the intense flavors of papalo including items like the Cubana, cemita, chorizo con huevos, and enchiladas.

Spice Up Your Menu with Tajin

Growing over 800% on restaurant menus in the past four years, tajin is a salty, sour, and spicy chili-lime spice blend that’s typically sprinkled on fruits and in cocktails but is bringing its bold flavor profile to items across categories.

On the Menu:

  • With several locations across New York, Dos Caminos features the bold spices of tajin chili salt as a topping on its street veggies appetizer comprised of jicama, cucumber, radishes, and pineapple.
  • Paleteria Y Neveria Azteca in Chicago, IL, serves a Sandi Loca (crazy watermelon) dessert, showcasing watermelon and a range of fruits topped with Mexican peanuts and tajin chili powder.

On the Dark Side: Black Sesame

With more vibrant, nuttier, and earthier tastes than white sesame seeds, black sesame boasts deep flavor and infuses visual intrigue with its dark contrast that’s a massive part of its allure. A common component in furikake (an on-trend Japanese seasoning), black sesame can add an exotic touch to a range of menu items such as grain bowls, chicken or fish entrées, and decadent desserts.

On the Menu:

  • Sen Sakana in New York, NY serves Japanese-inspired grilled skewers, one featuring tomato wrapped pork coated in black sesame-garlic sauce.
  • Zingerman’s Creamery in Ann Arbor, MI, offers black sesame gelato that gets its unbelievably rich, complex, and nutty flavor from black sesame tahini made from roasted, unhulled black sesame seeds.

A Cup of Cheese Tea

Originating in Taiwan, cheese tea is an old-age beverage that’s capturing U.S. consumer interest with its intriguing name, sweet and savory flavor profile, and fascinating textures. This dairy-forward drink, similar to bubble tea, is topped with “milk cap,” a foamy blend of milk and cream cheese. Growing on menus 100% over the past four years, cheese tea presents opportunities to meet customer demand for adventurous, ethnic, on-trend beverage options.

On the Menu:

  • New York City’s Möge Tee offers an eclectic variety of cheese teas including Cheese Rose Oolong Tea, Cheese Earl Grey Tea, and Cheese Mountain Green Tea.
  • “Miss Jasmine” made with jasmine green tea and “Golden Phoenix” made with Taiwan deep roasted oolong tea are two cheese tea features on the menu at New York’s restaurant Debutea.

Take a Stand

Understanding where your customers find value in your restaurant can help you capitalize on their business. According to Datassential, 88% of consumers claim they’ll support a food company that aligns with their values, and a striking 81% have visited a restaurant for the first time because of like-minded views. To generate buzz and create loyal diners, consider publicizing fundamental principles your restaurant stands for.

On the Menu:

  • Producing one Impossible™ Burger (#045471) uses 96% less land, 87% less water, and 89% fewer emissions than burgers made from regular cows. Boldly displaying its animal- and planet-saving values, Impossible™ Foods produces plant-based meats that mimic the juiciness and flavorful qualities of regular meat. Its mission and products attract plant-based consumers, as well as those with concern for the environment and animal welfare.
  • Seventy-eight percent of consumers want restaurants to offer more items with functional benefits. Located throughout NYC, Brodo is a trendy eatery focused on the beneficial health effects of broth, serving customers improved digestion and strengthened joints with every diverse and flavorful sip.
  • Consumers that advocate for seafood sustainability will support New York restaurant Grand Banks, a restaurant that serves sea-to-table, sustainable, wild-caught seafood. Operating in partnership with the Maritime Foundation, they have generated over $100,000 to restore healthy rivers, preserve at-risk vessels, and develop oyster habitats in the New York Harbor.