Vegetables | Food Trends

Top 4 Vegetable Trends for 2020

Dec 13, 2019

When the clock strikes midnight in a couple of weeks, millions of Americans will resolve to eat better and try to consume more fruits and vegetables.  While many of these resolutions will be broken, the growing popularity of vegetables and plant-based dishes is proving far more durable. 

Vegetables owe their “moment in the sun” to the convergence of different generational values.  Aging boomers trying to improve their health and live longer seek out vegetables for their well-documented nutritional benefits.  Millennials and Gen Z patrons mindful issues like climate change and animal welfare appreciate their environmental benefits and sustainability relative to other food choices.

In 2020, you’ll see more food industry innovation to satisfy these twin motivations as chef’s find new ways to prepare and present plant-based menu items.  Here some emerging trends to consider when it comes to vegetables in the coming year.

1. Grilled veggies

Roasted vegetables have been on a roll for over a decade, with roasted veg brands like Simplot RoastWorks™ helping make their preparation practical for fast-moving, labor-strapped foodservice operations. Grilling offers many of the same flavor notes as roasting, but in a more intense, almost meat-like depth.  And don’t forget the visual intrigue of those parallel grill marks.

2. Zero waste

According to the EPA, food waste represents the largest waste stream in the United States. In 2017, 75% of this waste wound up in landfills.1 The movement to curtail this appalling statistic is finally gaining momentum.  The fact is, inedible waste generation during the peeling and trimming of fresh vegetables preparation in restaurants is unavoidable.  This is another occasion where frozen vegetables can offer a real advantage over fresh.  In addition to their year-round availability, frozen veggies typically arrive in kitchens pre-cut and pre-trimmed, providing 100% edible yield.  At Simplot, the inedible portions produced from vegetable processing are typically repurposed as animal feed, composted, or bio-digested to produce energy, conserving landfill space and cutting back an important source of kitchen waste.

3. Moving beyond soy protein

Soy has been the king of plant-based proteins for generations, but new sources are being tapped to try to minimize exposure to top allergens that might turn off today’s flexitarian eaters from plant-based foods. These alternatives include ancient grains like quinoa, and mung beans, both of which are excellent sources of plant-based protein, among other valuable nutrients.

4. Blending plants with animal proteins

In spite of the generalized trend toward plant-based foods, most Americans are loathe to give up animal protein altogether:  less than 4% actually identify as vegans or vegetarians.2 That said, many Americans are actively trying to reduce their meat consumption.  To match this trend, operators and food manufacturers have begun reducing the meat content of things like hamburger patties and sausages by cutting-in vegetables. The James Beard Foundation’s The Blended Burger Project was created to make burgers “better for customers and for the planet” by blending in at least 25% fresh mushrooms. Blending veggies into meat has the added benefit of lower operators’ food costs. The key is to promote the additional flavor that the vegetables add to the meat.

For many operators, the trend toward plant-based foods appeared to move from fringe to mainstream almost overnight.  But the generational beliefs that brought veggies to the fore have been a long time coming— and they’re here to stay for the foreseeable future. 

The good news is that any operator can adapt to and capitalize on this trend with a few simple menu changes and appeal to this growing audience of health- and environmentally-conscious consumers.

To learn how Simplot can help you match these trends and broaden your appeal, just reach out to your Simplot sales rep.

  1. https://www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-materials-waste-and-recycling/food-material-specific-data
  2. Harris Poll National Survey, 2015
  • Trends