Walk through any stadium and discover the vast array of food options on any given game day. Concession stands have come a long way from offering the standard popcorn, peanuts, hot dogs, and light beer. Palates have evolved to become more sophisticated and adventurous. Not just for adults but for children too! Creativity looms large in the food and beverage industry. In October of this year, The Specialty Food Association (SFA) Trendspotter Panel released their predictions of the specialty foods and ingredients that will be all the rage in 2024. As we encroach upon the close of 2023, let’s explore a few of those top up-and-coming food trends and ways to incorporate them into concession menus.
1. A World of Flavors
Global and fusion flavors have always been “on trend” but each year brings new and even more exciting flavors to explore as ingredients become more accessible in the mainstream. Food is one of the most powerful ways to connect with and experience other cultures.
Matcha and tahini continue to trend alongside seasonings like furikake and za’atar. SFA predicts that black sesame, ube, and milk tea are three global flavors that will trend in 2024. These unique seasonings and flavors can elevate a classic snack like popcorn into a gourmet treat. Experiment with international fusion dishes that combine flavors from different parts of the world, creating an amazing taste experience.
2. That 70’s Snack
The nostalgia factor played big into the food industry in 2023 and that isn’t going anywhere. Stock retro sodas in coolers and offer classic snacks that evoke memories of the past. Milkshakes, burgers, and fries, the good ol’ American hotdog, grilled cheese, cotton candy, etc. Use retro fonts and illustrations on your menu and packaging. Use vintage-style packaging for your snacks like retro popcorn boxes, paper straws, and classic soda cups. The nostalgic appeal of these items can enhance the overall experience for your customers and make them feel like they’ve stepped back in time. Feature a “Throwback Thursday” special where you serve classic items like patty melts, Twinkies, root beer floats, and other iconic snacks and beverages from a certain decade or era.
Sustainability is top of mind with a large swath of today’s consumers. Farm-to-concessions is a great way to highlight local, seasonal ingredients in your concession menu. Use fresh, locally sourced produce to create dishes that appeal to eco-conscious consumers. This not only supports local farmers but also reduces the carbon footprint of your concession stand. Offer biodegradable packaging and eating utensils made from sustainable materials. Implement waste reduction strategies to minimize the amount of waste your concession stand generates. Encourage recycling by providing clearly labeled recycling bins for bottles, cans, and other recyclable materials. Consider composting food scraps and other organic waste, diverting it from landfills and converting it into nutrient-rich compost.These eco-friendly choices demonstrate your commitment to the environment and resonate with customers who prioritize green practices. By incorporating sustainability into your concession operations, you not only contribute to a healthier planet but also attract a growing segment of environmentally aware patrons who will appreciate your efforts.
4. Plant Based Foods
There are a myriad of reasons consumers are choosing plant based foods, from eco-consciousness to health-consciousness. The options are endless – offer plant based hot dogs and burgers such as Beyond Meat. Offer plant-based cheese for pizza or other “cheesy” menu offerings. Offer alternative milks such as oat, almond, coconut, and soy for smoothies, milkshakes, and cafe beverages. The plant-based industry has come a long way in recent years producing products that taste and look just like the real thing.
5. Craft Beverages
Consumers must be very thirsty because the beverage industry is absolutely booming and will continue to tick upwards in the coming year. It seems nearly every beer producer has come out with their own variety of hard seltzers, ciders, and non-alcoholic beers. The kombucha coolers are teeming with new brands and flavors. Canned cocktails have evolved from “wine coolers” to “Bud Light’s Lime-a-rita” to today’s botanical, surprisingly delicious varieties of palomas, margaritas, Old Fashioneds and more. Get your concession stand on the beverage bandwagon and offer artisanal and craft beverages – an assortment of seltzer flavors alongside craft or probiotic sodas, sell kombucha on tap,
Allen Associates offers a range of beverage equipment, from coffee machines to slushy makers, to help you craft artisanal drinks.
As the culinary landscape continues to evolve, concession stand owners have the exciting opportunity to introduce innovative and delicious food trends to their menus. Whether it’s embracing global flavors, tapping into nostalgia, or offering healthier, sustainable options, Allen Associates is your partner in bringing these trends to life. With a wide array of equipment, supplies, and support, Allen Associates can help you stay ahead in the ever-changing world of concession stand cuisine. We can’t wait to see where you take your concession offerings in 2024!
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q1: How can I source local ingredients for my concession stand?
You can connect with local suppliers and farmers in your area to procure fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Allen Associates can guide you in finding suppliers that align with your sustainability goals.
Q2: Can I offer both classic and trendy snacks in my concession stand?
Luckily, many classic snacks are currently trendy! Done and done.
Q3: What support does Allen Associates offer for incorporating food trends into my concession menu?
Allen Associates not only supplies the necessary equipment and ingredients but also offers guidance and support on seamlessly integrating food trends into your concession menu to enhance customer satisfaction.