Put 2019 in the books! We all made it through another year and are looking forward to the next one. But before we pop open that bottle of bubbly and bring on 2020, we at The Spoon want to take one last look back at the year that was and give you our take on the year ahead.
Top Trends of 2019
The Spoon writers sat down and pulled a few threads together to sum up the big trends that did (and didn’t) happen this year.
It’s almost undeniable that the biggest trend of 2019 was plant-based meat, which took off like a rocket this year. Catherine Lamb recounts how Beyond Meat’s boffo IPO, Burger King’s Impossible Whopper and just about every meat company jumping on the plant-based bandwagon made this a banner year for alternate proteins.
Air Fryers were definitely hot this year, while the consumer sous vide sector sunk from lukewarm to downright cold, Spoon Publisher Mike Wolf writes in his Kitchen Technology Year in Review. Read more to see what moves Amazon made in the kitchen and how larger appliance makers are innovating.
Of course, another big trend of the year was not even using our kitchens as food delivery continue to grow. But as Jenn Marston points out, all that growth came with its own pain as food delivery got really messy as companies like DoorDash, Uber Eats and Postmates struggled with valuations, regulatory pressures and labor relations.
Finally, while our first-ever food robotics summit was a sold out success this year, as I note, 2019 was not the year we welcomed our robot overlords. It was mostly a quiet year of continued testing for robot cooks and restaurants. The real robo activity was in logistics as automated micro-fulfillment centers in grocery stores gained traction, and delivery robots scurried around a bunch of college campuses.
The Spoon 2020 Crystal Ball
But enough living in the past. What’s going to happen next? Thankfully for you, dear reader, we got that covered too.
Anyone who’s read The Spoon knows that ghost kitchens had a big 2019, and will have an even bigger 2020. Jenn Marston doles out three predictions for ghost kitchens including how they will become table stakes for multi-unit restaurant chains, how restaurant brands will compete with kitchen providers, and how third-party delivery will go deeper into the ghost kitchen space.
Personalization, as Catherine Lamb notes, will be another big trend in 2020. Well, sort of. She says that between advancements in food science, data and AI, companies are getting better at creating customized food tailored specifically to our tastes and needs. Completely customized meals may not go mainstream next year, but we’ll get a lot closer. In fact we’re hosting a one day conference devoted to the topic in February in New York, get your (personal) ticket now!
Finally, two trends I think folks in food tech need to pay attention to are pop-up stores and equity crowdfunding. Companies like Zippin and AiFi are creating infrastructure for easily assembled retail experiences that brands will use to create small, physical stores practically anywhere. And speaking of anywhere, it looks like equity crowdfunding will take off next year as startups that are located anywhere (i.e. not in VC hubs like SF or NYC), can tap into moola from the masses to retain more control over their own destinies.
Finally, we want to say thank you to all of you. You helped make this the biggest and best year ever for the Spoon. We look forward to bringing you all the food tech news you need to know throughout 2020 and beyond.
Take care and be well.
-The Spoon Team