Food Trends for 2023: What to Expect

In a world of constantly evolving food tastes, schools should pay attention to food trends to revamp their nutrition program and try to boost participation. Here are five trends predicted to take over in 2023.

1. Plant Powered Meals

According to the Plant Based Foods Association, the plant-based meat market has grown by 17% in the past year, reaching a total of $14 billion in sales. As people become increasingly conscious of the impact that their food choices have on the environment, school food programs can incorporate this trend by offering more vegetarian, vegan, or feature plant-based products as options in their cafeteria menus. Bonus points if you can use eco-friendly packaging!

2. Locally Sourced Meals

Farm to school has gained popularity not only because of the fresh, colorful, and flavorful produce, but because it encourages students to think beyond their plates and learn about where their food comes from. If you’d like to help strengthen your local business and local economy, consider purchasing from local farmers and producers, or creating a school garden initiative. Doing so means students would have a personal investment in supporting your SNP. 

3. Healthy Nostalgic Food

All over TikTok and other social platforms is the resurgence of cozy mac and cheese, childhood meals, and even McDonald’s and TV networks are bringing back retro favorites, like 90’s toys or shows. People will always want comfort food because it provides a sense of security and nostalgia, but you can offer classic dishes with a healthy twist! Think back to what you enjoyed as a kid, or comfort foods that could make it onto your menu.

4. Global Flavors and Fusion Foods

Students can explore new cultures and cuisines right in your cafeterias! People are experimenting with spices and ingredients from around the world, so incorporate this trend by creating fusion meals that combine your accessible ingredients with new flavors, or vice versa with classic flavors but on a less-commonly used ingredient. You can take inspiration and create endless combinations. The varied meals will be more interesting to students who likely have already seen food around the world thanks to social media. 

5. More Ancient Grains 

Think grains that have been around for centuries – quinoa, amaranth, and barley. They’re high in protein, contain essential vitamins and minerals, and we’re seeing them more in health-conscious kitchens and are quite popular in trendy subscription meal kits such as HelloFresh or EveryPlate. They’re more than a healthy alternative. Using rotational grains also has a direct positive impact on soil health across the country because they usually don’t require fertilizers, pesticides, or irrigation, and they are resistant in warmer climates according to the International Journal of Food Properties, Issue 1 of Volume 24, 2021.

In conclusion, the food trends for 2023 reflect the current state of society and people’s changing priorities. By incorporating these trends into their menus, school food programs can provide students with nutritious, varied, and exciting meal options. By reflecting the latest food trends, schools can help shape the future of the food industry and contribute to a healthier, more sustainable, and more inclusive future for all.