Gastronomy & Food Service

Unilever Future Menus Report Highlights Crucial Role of Vegetables in Exciting and Inspiring American Diners

Unilever Food Solutions (UFS) recently unveiled its Future Menus Top North America Trends 2024 report, identifying key menu trends that will impact the US restaurant industry in the coming years.

UFS focuses on providing chefs and operators with solutions and guidance to support menu planning, pricing, and culinary training, and is the professional foodservice unit of multinational CPG producer Unilever, which last year stated its target of achieving €1.5 billion in sales from plant-based products by 2025.

“Veg allows cooking to become an artform, with chefs able to create vibrant and picturesque plates that excite diners and leave them feeling inspired”

The report highlights five key trends that are set to arrive on American menus and how operators can implement them in their establishments:

  • Modernized comfort food
  • Resource-saving menus without waste;
  • Irresistible vegetables
  • Local richness
  • The new sharing

Citing the PBFA’s State of Food Service report from last year, UFS comments, “With nearly one-third of the US population showing a strong affinity for plant-based food and more than 40% of consumers agreeing that the availability of plant-based food enhances the restaurant experience, it’s no surprise that Irresistible Vegetables is a key trend that will impact foodservice in the coming year.”

Unilever Future Menus 2024 report
© Unilever

Irresistible vegetables

“Almost half of all chefs see this trend as a way to offer new and interesting dishes. It’s also a tasty way to attract new diners and stand out from the competition. More inspiration is the order of the day,” states the report of the emerging Irresistible Vegetables trend.

“Vegetables have long been overlooked, it’s time for them to be front and center”

“Diners demand food that is not only full of nutrition and nourishment, they want it to look aesthetically interesting – and vegetables might be the answer.  Veg allows cooking to become an artform, with chefs able to create vibrant and picturesque plates that excite diners and leave them feeling inspired.

“It can transform a dish from something lackluster and beige, to bright and brilliant […] Vegetables have long been overlooked, it’s time for them to be front and center,” the authors state, underlining butternut squash and cabbage as “experiencing a renaissance” and offering recipe suggestions such as Korean-inspired spicy mushroom stew.

kale leaves forming a heart
© nito-stock.adobe.com

The plant-forward trend in foodservice

The Unilever trend predictions mirror that of a paper released by Griffith Foods earlier this month, which predicts that vegetables are expected to dominate gastronomy in 2024, especially in foodservice.

Furthermore, online foodservice supplier WebstaurantStore told vegconomist that it had witnessed increased demand in the plant-based category, experiencing a YOY growth rate of nearly 110%, and that it expects this trend to see continued rapid expansion into 2024.

“With Future Menus 2024, our goal is to help chefs and operators put these trends into action and create unique dining experiences for their customers,” said Brandon Collins, Executive Chef for UFS North America. “As the restaurant industry continues to evolve to satisfy diners’ changing expectations and dietary preferences, our Culinary Team is committed to bringing operators the resources and tools to navigate the challenges faced within our industry.”

Popular plant-based brands belonging to Unilever include The Vegetarian Butcher and successful veganised lines include the plant-based Hellman’s mayo and Magnum ice cream.

Further information at ufs.com.

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