CBD-infused Food/drink, Zero-waste Are Top Trends

An infuser and a coffee cup
CBD-infused Food/drink, Zero-waste Are Top Trends

New research finds infusing food and drink with the ingredients could create unique cuisine opportunities and new markets for experiential dining occasions.

Plant-based ingredients, including cannabis and CBD, and zero-waste cooking will be the hottest overall culinary trends of 2019, new research from the National Restaurant Association finds.

According to the Association’s 2019 What’s Hot Culinary Survey, a barometer of U.S. food and beverage trends, 650 professional chefs – all members of the American Culinary Federation – said infusing food and drink with cannabis and CBD could create unique cuisine opportunities and potential new markets for experiential dining occasions.

In fact, 77 percent of the survey’s respondents identified cannabis/CBD-infused drinks as the No. 1 trend. In addition, 76 percent of them tapped cannabis/CBD-infused food as the second most popular trend.

However, as chefs and restaurateurs consider incorporating the ingredients into menu items, Association officials stressed that cannabis and CBD are federally controlled substances and laws governing their use vary from state to state. As a result, they said, “Operators are urged to follow all laws, including applicable federal, state and local laws that apply when selling or using those items at their restaurants.”

Third on this year’s list of overall trends is zero-waste cooking, which calls for chefs and restaurateurs to reduce the amount of food waste created during the preparation of menu items to prevent it from ending up in landfills. The chefs said zero waste could be achieved through nose-to-tail cooking, incorporating “ugly” produce into menu items and recycling or composting, among other things.

“Zero-waste cooking is a sign of the times,” said Hudson Riehle, the Association’s senior vice president of research. “Millennial and Gen Z customers in particular expect the restaurants they patronize to be more eco-friendly, so sustainability is high on their list. It’s also good for business. Not only is food waste reduction more cost effective, it creates brand loyalty and helps protect the planet. It’s a big win for everyone.”

Download our 2019 What’s Hot Culinary Trends Survey