The Natural Food Color Market is Expected to Grow

Feb 07, 2023

The natural food color market is growing in demand as consumers become more conscious of what they put in their bodies. Natural food colors, such as carotenoids, anthocyanin, and chlorophylls, are derived from plants, fruits, and vegetables. These colors are safe to consume, as opposed to synthetic colors, such as Red 3, Yellow 5, and Blue 1, which can contain chemicals and other additives that may harm people’s health.


The natural food color market is projected to experience significant growth in the coming years. This is due to the increasing demand for natural and safe food coloring products, and the growing awareness among consumers about the health benefits of natural food colors. According to a report from Global Market Insights, the global natural food color market size is expected to exceed USD 2.5 billion by 2025, with a CAGR of more than 7% during the forecast period of 2020-2025.


Natural Food Coloring


Natural food colors are becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to synthetic colors. Synthetic, or artificial colors are made using chemicals, which can be potentially harmful to people’s health. Additionally, synthetic colors can be more expensive than natural food colors, as natural colors are often cheaper to acquire and process. Natural food colors are also more environmentally friendly, as they do not require harsh chemicals or additional processing.


Replacing synthetic colors with natural ones and paying attention to the ingredients in the foods you choose to eat, will help reduce how much synthetic food coloring is ingested. Various products, such as baked goods, ice cream, jams, jellies, and smoothies, are made with natural food color.


fake food coloring


Like synthetic dyes, natural food dyes can also give food a unique color, such as purple or green that enhances the visual appetite. For example, a smoothie with natural food colors can look more vibrant and attractive than synthetic colors.


Dangers Of Artificial Dyes


The most apparent danger when consuming anything that has artificial dyeing is the fact that it, in no part, is naturally made. The Center for Science In the Public Interest says synthetic dyes are made from ‘petroleum-based – chemicals that do not occur in nature.’ The danger lies in not knowing how someone will react to these chemicals once eaten, especially in children.


Synthetic food dyes are used on foods that are already deemed unhealthy options, including:

  • candy
  • certain drinks/ sodas
  • pastry items
  • baked goods


Will you Use Natural Food Coloring at your Restaurant?


According to a study by Precedence Research, consumers want the freshest, most organic fruits and vegetables they can get due to how much they contribute to good health and wellness for the body. That is why fruits and vegetables will be the driving force for the natural food color market from 2022 to 2030. The report also said smaller produce stores, farmers’ markets, and other markets selling fruit and vegetables would see this growth even more so because of the likelihood of more accessibility and a focused target audience.


food dyes

Now’s a great time to incorporate those natural food colorings on your menu, whether you create an avant-garde black bun burger using charcoal powder or bake a beautiful purple cake using acai or yam powder. There are many natural food color options available, so let your imagination and creativity run wild!


Egg Prices Soar Again: The Latest

Jan 16, 2023

Eggs are an everyday staple in most fridges across America. They’re the perfect protein, the food you grab before a storm, and the inexpensive go-to. Easy, tasty, and cheap, eggs have it all, but recently, they haven’t had the same price range consumers and restaurants are hoping for. Not so inexpensive right now, eggs are soaring to almost $7.50 a dozen in certain states, says the Washington Post, and experts aren’t sure when it will come down.


Prices have been stubbornly rising since the avian flu outbreak in 2015, and have continued to rise because of supply chain problems due to COVID, says the article. America has lost over 10 million egg-laying hens because of the latest flu outbreak. In total, the flu has “wiped out more than 44 million egg-laying hens…roughly 4 or 5 percent of production,” says the Agriculture Department. The detrimental loss of the chicken flock has put pressure on both restaurants and consumers.

egg costs

How Are Restaurants Responding to the Increase in Egg Prices?


Restaurants across America are still trying to regain their footing after COVID and inflation, and egg prices certainly aren’t helping. Although the price difference is concerning, restaurant owners are forced to get creative, says the Washington Post. There are no avoiding eggs on the menu, but the menu can pivot, like “doubling down” on less expensive options for eggs like pancakes. Some restaurants have had to forward the cost to customers, says WFSB, reworking the menu prices because of the increased costs of keeping pace with their production costs. According to CNN, some restaurants have decided to eat the cost themselves instead of passing it on to the customer, A mom-and-pop lunch spot in Rhode Island, which relies heavily on eggs for its menu, wants to hold the line and keep the customer happy, even if it means harder times for the restaurant, in the hopes that prices will go down soon.



Another option for restaurants is switching out eggs for a similar product, said a restaurant owner to USN News. With two restaurants and two bakeries in Arkansas, eggs are a must-have, but switching to a frozen and cheaper alternative egg product has helped with some of the products. For fresh meals, however, eggs are still unavoidable.


Although it seems “hang tight” might be the phrase for 2023 egg prices, the silver lining here is that farmers have learned from their practices in the past regarding flu outbreaks in their egg-laying communities, says the Washington Post. The 2015 outbreak caught farmers off guard, but they were more prepared (even though it was worse) for the 2022 outbreak with practices that keep their chicken flocks safer and less contaminated. Recovery is becoming quicker and quicker, said the article.


High egg prices will remain for a little longer (estimated 4 to 6 months), says The Dallas Morning News; however, they could decrease later in the year should there be no more intense outbreaks and farmers can replenish their flocks. According to the article, eggs are still a relatively inexpensive meal, and we shouldn’t give up hope that our staple is fading away.


Food Trend Alert: West African Cuisine

Jan 09, 2023

West African cuisine has been trending in the food industry for some time now, and it’s not surprising. It is vibrant and flavorful food, packed full of assorted spices such as ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, and allspice. West African cuisine has a concurrent theme with the ingredients, including plantains, cassava, peanuts, and yams.

West African cuisine is known for its unique flavor and textures, which may explain its growing popularity worldwide. Unlike western foods, dishes are often cooked in a peanut-based sauce, which adds a rich and creamy texture. West African cuisine is also known for its use of ‘soups,’ made with ingredients like tomatoes, onions, and peppers.

food trending

A side of rice and plantains often accompanies many dishes. Condiments are slightly different from what Americans expect, such as spicy chili and smoked fish.


Traditional vegetables only used on the African continent are paired with every meal. It’s not a commonly known fact or practice by outsiders. These vegetables include okra, used as a stand-alone and a way to thicken soup, along with eggplant, pumpkin, watermelon, and leafy greens.


Types of West African Cuisine


West African cuisine is incredibly diverse and complex, with each country having its own unique dishes.  A few examples of the types of cuisine you can find in West Africa include:


  • Fufu – a sticky, pounded starch, usually made from cassava or plantains, served with traditional soups and stews
  • Akara – a deep-fried bean cake
  • Ewa Agoyin – a popular Nigerian dish that combines boiled beans and stewed tomatoes
  • Banku is a fermented corn dough that is cooked and served with soup
  • Gari is a cassava flour that is served as a side dish or used as a thickener for soups

fu fu

Other popular dishes include jollof rice, fufu, egusi stew, suya, and plantain chips.

West African cuisine draws people because of the different ways the food is prepared and seasoned. Here are some other popular West African meals.


Jollof Rice

Jollof Rice is a one-pot dish with rice, tomato, onion, and various spices. It is a favored meal throughout West Africa.



Fufu is a thick porridge made from cassava, yam, or plantain.



Kebab is grilled meat, usually beef, chicken, or goat.


Suya is a spicy shish-kebab, made with beef, chicken, or fish.



Waka-Waka is a spicy stew made with beef, tomato, onion, and peppers.

West African cuisine is becoming increasingly popular as more people are discovering its unique and tasty flavors. The cuisine is a great way to spice up traditional dishes and will surely be enjoyed by anyone who takes the time to explore it.

Stay tuned to our blog for more news on food trends.



Restaurant Trends: Digital Cafes

Dec 13, 2022

Let’s begin with defining convenience. Ten years ago, a quick service lunch meant going inside a restaurant, reviewing the menu, telling a staff member what you’d like, and waiting a few minutes before getting your tray and sitting down with other lunch-goers. Today, that sort of convenience is unrecognizable. According to QSR, completing orders through apps, relaying orders to touch screen kiosks, and picking up food from drive-thrus is the way of the “time-pressed” future. Digital cafes are popping up nationwide to help fit customers’ needs quickly and efficiently.


Big fast food chains are jumping aboard the digital train, like McDonalds, Taco Bell, and Wingstop, says The Street. Some have beefed up their technology, like apps, drive-thrus, and rewards, and some have gone further, eliminating dining space altogether. Last year, Wingstop, a chicken chain that began in Texas, opened its first “restaurant of the future.” With no register and no front staff, their zero-cash approach operates with ordering screens. According to the article, Wingstop’s eventual goal is to transition to online and app orders exclusively.


Chipotle, back in 2018, opened its first drive-thru-only restaurant, Chipotlane, with tremendous success, says RIS. Their no dine-in storefront offered food exclusively through their drive-thru service. Last year, they opened what they’re calling the Chipotle Digital Kitchen, which features a drive-thru, and walk-up ordering window for convenience. The restaurant will operate through an app, online, and delivery orders (like Urban Eats), but also have a small outdoor patio area for dining.

digital ordering
A kiosk as seen at Burger Boss


Fast food giant McDonald’s is also testing the waters with digitally-operated stores. Slower to embrace the full digital experience, McDonald’s created a more customer-forward store in Fort Worth, Texas, says The Street. Half the size of its regular stores, this one has a conveyor belt for online pick-up orders, shelves for delivery services, and kiosks for customers who haven’t looked at their phones in awhile. This solo restaurant serves as a guinea pig for the company to see how successful (or not) it is for their chain.


In 2021, Taco Bell opened its digital-only location in New York City’s Times Square. Eliminating contact completely, customers order through kiosks and grab their food from locked cubbies, says the New York Post. A hint of human existence appears as each order is made in an open kitchen, and then placed in a heated cubby with a lamp that turns pink when ready. With the entering of a code number on a touchscreen, customers can extract the order and be on their way, says the article.


Lunch has become a quick, efficient, and high-tech experience thanks to these chains. There are a lot of opinions about how much human interaction is being eliminated through these technologies. But the customer has spoken; digital cafes are gaining traction. Whether you’re out to lunch on your break, picking up an order for a customer, or simply trying out something new, lunchtime has come a long way. Keep up with restaurant technological trends on the Synergy Blog.



Restaurants: Hyperlocal Trends

Oct 24, 2022

Picture a quiet, peaceful meadow, lush with grass, and a vegetable garden big enough to plan a menu around. If you think that maybe you’re in Lancaster, PA, or Sussex, NJ, you wouldn’t be thinking wrong. This garden, though, belongs to a restaurant in Kennebunkport, Maine, and it is one of two organic gardens grown on premises and picked daily to produce the tastiest of dishes on their menu. They aren’t the only ones; restaurants with garden sidekicks are popping up everywhere. As prices rise, menus shrink, and staff continues to grow thin, there is something quite beautiful trending around the country — hyperlocal foods. Because of food distribution chain disruptions since the start of COVID, restaurants have been procuring their ingredients via farms, bakeries, butchers, and even cheesemakers, super close to their location or doing it themselves, says Food & Wine.

Hyperlocal trends in restaurants were on the rise in 2007 with the start of the “locavore,” a term coined by people in the San Francisco Bay area, says WebsterauntStore. This term describes a person who eats only foods grown within a 100-mile radius. According to the article, restaurants took notice of the trend and began sourcing their foods hyper-locally or growing them themselves.

Obtaining food from local spots makes it more sustainable for the restaurant, says Caroline Glover from Food & Wine. Chefs from Colorado to New York have hopped on the hyperlocal trend and have focused on “smaller, tighter menus,” highlighting the foods closest to them. Menus have reflected hyperlocal foods by offering dishes unique to their locations, and customers love it, says Foodwellsaid. The article further shares that shifting from global cuisine to local has been a surprising twist, but it is making both customers and restaurants happy.


Benefits for Restaurant Workers and Patrons: Health and Convenience


Shopping local farms and bakeries is fantastic, but having your own garden in the back of your restaurant is ideal, which is what many restaurants are doing now to ensure sustainability, says Eco & Beyond. The article says that certain leafy greens can lose over half of their vitamin C by the time it makes it to the supermarket shelf and even local food that has traveled miles to the restaurant. On-site farms, rooftop gardens, and vertical gardens allow restaurants to literally pick food, cook it and serve it. You can’t get more local than that.

Predicted by Whole Foods on their Top 10 Food Trends of 2022 is “ultraurban” farming. Whole Foods pioneered a rooftop greenhouse back in 2013 in their Whole Foods Market Brooklyn location and watched the trend grow, no pun intended, into a huge movement. This indoor farming trend has expanded into other areas, including hydroponics, aquaponics, and robot-grown produce.


urban farm

Sustainable and Delicious

Hyperlocal sourcing isn’t just a trendy term. Yes, it’s sustainable and a tremendous step towards significant changes in the food industry. It’s also a source of pride for both restaurant operators and customers. Everyone can enjoy the feeling of warmth and satisfaction because the food is delicious and because their neighbor grew it. It’s the community that’s being served.


Menu Trends to Anticipate for Spring 2022

Mar 03, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many aspects of the restaurant industry—and continues to do so.

According to the National Restaurant Association’s yearly survey, we expect to see healthier trends and choices in 2022. This survey tests the waters for food and beverage trends by surveying over 650 professional chefs.

The good news is that the growing focus seems to be on better quality ingredients, a smaller carbon footprint, and delicious CBD experiments.

CBD-Infused Food and Drinks

Almost 80 percent of chefs have recognized CBD-infused menu items as part of the demand for healthier food products. Infusing foods and drinks with CBD ingredients opens a new food niche to explore and experiment with.

As restaurant owners around the United States update and expand their menu options, many are interested in the CBD market, which could be worth exploring.

Consider creating delicious cocktails or smoothies with a bit of CBD oil for a novel twist!


Plant-Based Food and Proteins

One of the biggest trends we’ve seen due to the pandemic is a focus on healthier food options: especially plant-based sandwiches and menu options. We will be seeing a growing trend as menus grow to accommodate meatless proteins.

For example, McDonald’s released a small trial run, the McDonald’s McPlant burger, which became incredibly popular and continues to grow every day. Participating stores have sold 70 plant burgers every day, far exceeding expectations.

As demand for plant-based food continues to grow rapidly in 2022, we can look forward to innovative and delicious developments, including cheese and fish alternatives. One new and fun alternative is potato milk–a healthy and yummy dairy substitute.



As supply chain issues and sustainability concerns become more visible, restaurants should explore ways to make environmental changes. From plastic alternatives to zero-waste options, the theme for 2022 seems to center on thoughtfulness and reuse.

The flexitarian movement—which focuses on plant-based diets for those who haven’t entirely given up on meat but are curious about exploring vegan options—has grown strong since 2020. Restaurant owners are starting to focus on more locally-sourced, high-quality ingredients to reduce their carbon footprint.

We may see menus transform as we focus on healthier and more eco-friendly menu options and sustainability. We can lookout for more streamlined and refined menus that focus on higher-quality ingredients for even simple offerings like French fries or chips.

2022 is shaping up to be an exciting year for restaurants. We will start seeing locally grown fresh produce, housemade syrups and items, and more vegan-centric cuisine.

If you’re looking for a menu refresh, or even a complete overhaul, look to Synergy! With 35 years of service for both independent restaurants and chain foodservice operations, Synergy Restaurant Consultants is here to help your restaurant achieve optimal efficiency in this competitive market.


Wrapping Up 2021 and Looking Ahead to 2022

Dec 20, 2021

Much has changed as we wrap up our second year of the pandemic. Vaccines are readily available, and things started to feel that they were back on track. However, new variants are causing the restaurant industry to continue to feel the impact through supply chain issues, staffing shortages, and reinstituted mask mandates in many areas. Whether running a fast-casual or full-service restaurant, the industry has had to innovate and adapt to survive. In conjunction with Wakefield Research, Square shared its data and strategies to shape the industry in 2022 in its Future of Restaurants report.

Contactless Ordering & Delivery is Here to Stay

As operators look for ways to improve the customer experience while meeting changing expectations, contactless ordering and payment options like digital QR-code menus and touchless payments will become mainstream in 2022. When thinking ahead, online ordering, delivery, and curbside pickup must be factored into all parts of the restaurant business.


contactless payments

Smart Restaurant Technology to Help Fill the Gaps

Restaurant operators are exploring technology that can help staff be more efficient. These solutions can help fill the gaps when they are short-staffed by automating customer payments and customer communications. Additionally, guests have started to embrace tech as a tool to enhance a more seamless experience. Digital options are now part of today’s restaurants and must be considered in current and future decisions.

Diversified Revenue Streams

Over 50% of restaurant owners added new products or services due to the pandemic, and we expect to continue into 2022. Offering subscriptions, grocery, merchandise, and meal and cocktail kits. David Rusenko, Head of eCommerce at Square, shares, “A restaurant-bar-store, might be a place that sells mixology classes, retail gear, and tastings in addition to serving patrons food and drinks.” We expect that using ghost kitchens with menus designed for off-premise customers will continue to be a growing segment.

Kitchen Automation & Shifting Restaurant Footprints

Streamlining kitchen operations can help deliver a consistent and quality guest experience, so operators should invest in digital technology to improve back-of-house systems and processes. According to Forbes magazine, “as off-premise dining remains popular, operators must rethink how the layout of their restaurant will work best for their business, staff, and customers. We will likely see more drive-thru setups, and virtually all brick-and-mortar restaurants will define specially designated areas for delivery drivers and consumers picking up their takeout orders.”


pickup and takeout

Direct Online Ordering

Many operators want to take charge of their online ordering and delivery, and we expect this will continue into 2022, with less reliance on third parties. This allows restaurants to control the entire guest experience from beginning to end. Consumers also want to skip the middle person and support the restaurant directly, rather than a third-party app. Direct ordering allows operators to maintain their customer’s data, which can help develop and deliver better marketing and loyalty programs. According to BentoBox, restaurants saved $38.5 million by switching to direct online ordering last year.

Rethinking Customer Engagement

Restaurant operators are developing creative ways to boost customer engagement and loyalty. Nearly 90% of operators plan to implement customer engagement initiatives focused on rewarding customer loyalty into 2022.

Importance of Community

Restaurants play a unique role in communities. Strong community ties translate to stronger connections with patrons, so we expect to see more investment in community service initiatives in 2022. This can include cooking for community service providers, donating food or money to community organizations, or offering support to local minority-owned businesses.

More Variety to Meet Consumers Evolving Appetites

Restaurant guests have been seeking a variety and new types of food choices, globally-inspired, healthy meals, and unique ingredients. Thanks to social media, specifically TikTok, which exposes people to new food ideas and spreads greater diversity, this trend will likely continue into 2022.

The new year allows restaurants to take what they’ve learned from 2021 and use it to drive their business forward into 2022. Have you adopted new technology, transformed your restaurant space, or responded to guests’ behavior changes? Need help preparing for the new era of dining? Synergy can help!


2022 Consumer Food and Taste Trends

Dec 14, 2021

The last couple of years might have been a bit of a blur, but trends never seem to slow down. Food, especially, is an area we can all enjoy for comfort, taste, and health.

So what are consumer food and tastes trending towards in 2022?

Indoor Gardening and Ultra-Urban Farming

Whole Foods Market has asserted that hot food trends soon to hit your table include an assortment of natural and healthy foods.

You may not be surprised to learn that urban farming has grown in the last few years, allowing consumers to be more environmentally friendly by sourcing their fruits and vegetables locally. With supply-chain issues on the rise and the pandemic still a part of daily life, consumers are learning how to locate nearby farmers or grow their own food. Mushroom growing kits that allow you to cultivate expensive culinary mushrooms in the comfort of your own kitchen keep you healthy and well-fed.

Anyone can join urban farming! All you need is space and the curiosity to learn about aquaponics, hydroponics, and more. Being sustainable and environmentally sound, helps keep your kitchen stocked with perennial herbs, exotic mushrooms, and a personalized, curated indoor garden with your favorite veggies.


healthy food 2022

Look Forward to Fresh Fruit Flavors in 2022

Speaking of fresh, Beck Flavor’s Food Trends Report promises a rise in conscientious eating for better, healthier immune systems.

This doesn’t feel like a stretch considering the impact COVID continues to have globally.

Consumers seem to be shifting towards healthier foods with lower calories, less sugar, fewer preservatives, and less processing. We may see food trends that focus on fresh citrus flavors, immune-boosting vitamins, and botanical notes—all of which sound incredibly tasty and refreshing.

Cutting Down on Meat

You have likely noticed meat prices have gone up, which has inspired a movement known as Reducetarianism. This refers to the practice of cutting down on meat and animal products. The keyword is “reduce” because the goal isn’t to stop eating meat or become vegan.

Instead, you might consider only buying high-quality meats, seafood, cheeses, butter, etc. You can still enjoy your favorite meals, but on fewer occasions and with locally-sourced, highly-vetted ingredients.

Their goal is to “improve human health, protect the environment, and spare farm animals from cruelty by reducing societal consumption of animal products.”

As far as food trends go, this one seems conscientious and forward-thinking. The movement has gained a lot of followers, and maybe you are already one without realizing it. If you find yourself looking for pasture-raised eggs, grass-fed meat, raw milk—you’re already being intentional with what you buy.

Food and taste trends for 2022 seem to be more mindful and environmentally aware. This is a beautiful movement, and it’s inspiring to know that more and more consumers are concerned about the greater good. Look forward to more locally-sourced, high-grade foods in 2022!


Robot Staff – Is This the Answer to the Industry-Wide Staff Shortage?

Sep 29, 2021

What has worked for restaurants pre-pandemic isn’t cutting it today.  The industry is facing an unprecedented labor crisis.  With the shortage of available workers, job openings are at a record high, and restaurant operators have experienced significant obstacles in their rehiring efforts.

To counter these difficulties, many operators are turning to more creative solutions to address their staffing shortages.  With some immediate benefits for owners, staff, and guests, restaurant automation is gaining momentum.

Looking to Restaurant Automation

Automation is answering many of the fundamental challenges operators are facing today, including:

  • Ongoing staffing issues
  • Increased labor costs
  • Standardizing operations
  • Reducing errors
  • Better consistency
  • Increased efficiency – automated robots can work 24 hours a day without rest if needed
A robot serves a woman some wine

Ten Restaurants Utilizing Robotic Automation:


  1. Spyce Kitchen, a fast-casual restaurant in Boston, serves grain and vegetable-based bowls prepped in-house before being fed into a robot called the Infinite Kitchen, “that is able to properly cook individual foods with its separate griddle, steamer, and dispenser.  The robot can make up to 350 bowls an hour and can complete an order in two to five minutes.”
  2. Cali Burger uses a high-tech kitchen assistant, Flippy. Flippy, created by Miso Robotics, assists chefs in the kitchen in preparing burgers.  It helps with cooking and flipping burgers, placing on buns, and adding toppings.  Using Flippy aims to increase the quality and consistency of products and increase food safety.
  3. CaféX offers the fastest, most advanced, fully automated café system to operate a Robotic Coffee Bar. They use assembly-line-style robots to serve coffee orders.
  4. Haidilao Hotpot – with worldwide locations features robots that take orders, prepare and deliver raw meat and fresh vegetables to customers to put into soups prepared at their tables.
  5. McDonald’s – already using digital ordering kiosks worldwide and adding automated drive-through ordering and robot fryers to boost production and efficiency. One location in Phoenix, Arizona, is entirely run by robotics.
  6. La Duni in Dallas has rented three robots from Robotech “to serve drinks, seat guests and belt out Happy Birthday if the need arises.”
  7. White Castle – Flippy works 23 hours a day (one hour is reserved for cleaning) at the fry-station of Merrillville, Indiana, White Castle location.
  8. Sugar Mediterranean Bistro in Stockton, California, was struggling with a worker shortage, so it purchased a food delivery robot to ease the burden on staff.
  9. Noodle Topia in the Metro Detroit area uses a robot that looks like a rolling bookshelf, with four trays, a touchscreen, and an upward-facing infrared camera that helps it navigate around the dining room. Staff loads food onto one of the trays, enters a table number, and the robot takes off to deliver the food to the table.
  10. Sergio’s Restaurant in South Florida has brought on its robot, “Astro,” short for Automatic Service Tray Removal Organizer. CEO Carlos Gazitua says this robot “came out of the crisis that we have currently in the labor force where we can’t get employees to come in to work.”
delivery robots
Delivery robots en route to destination


Improvements in technology allow robots to do many tasks that previously required people – tossing pizza dough, flipping burgers, cleaning floors, and taking or delivering your food order.  In addition to robots, we are seeing software and AI-powered services on the rise. Starbucks has been working on automation to keep track of store inventory. More stores are moving to self-checkout options.


Dina Marie Zemke, an associate professor at Ball State University, recently published a study called “How to Build a Better Robot for Quick Service Restaurants” in the Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Research. In this study, she found that the “overwhelming majority of respondents believe there is no stopping the robot transformation of the foodservice industry, including quick-service restaurants (QSRs).” In the end, Zemke believes rising labor costs will force restaurants owners to turn to robotics.


As the restaurant industry continues to rebound from the pandemic, innovation and automation are of paramount importance and is essential and beneficial for both restaurants and customers alike.  Are you looking for solutions to ease your staff shortages? Need help finding ways to make your operations more profitable and efficient? Reach out to Synergy Consultants today!


Plant-Based Products: A Restaurant Revolution

Aug 24, 2021

Organic. Vegetarian. Vegan. These diet choices have been growing trends for many years. Eating a plant-based diet is smart for many reasons. Younger consumers do it because they care about the environment. Older consumers do it because they care about their health. Either way, the development of plant-based food products has become something between a science and an art. In recent years, many options are appearing on restaurant menus and in grocery stores, yet often, do not resemble a plant.


The most popular trend is the plant-based hamburger. Impossible Foods developed this faux red meat to create the Impossible Burger (2016). Its production requires 87% less water, 96% less land, and produces 89% less greenhouse gas emissions. Environmentally sustainable, it is reverse engineered from plants and mixed with soy products. The secret, however, lies in a molecule found in plants as well as in human blood called heme. This molecule carries oxygen to blood in the human body and is in virtually all foods people eat. Plant-based burgers with heme deliver the craveability of beef. In other words, it sells because it tastes like blood.


Torchy's Tacos
MoFaux plant-based tacos at Torchy’s


As a niche product sold in high-end restaurants, plant-based meat alternatives (PBMA) have evolved into mainstream meat products. The recipe varies but incorporates protein bases such as legumes, nuts, soy, tofu, whole grains, seeds, tempeh, and vegetables. The result is a malleable lump similar to ground beef which can form into burgers, minced meats, sausages, and other meat alternatives. Due to the flavor and price matching similarly to familiar animal-based products, drive-thru restaurants, and grocery stores that sell plant-based products had a winning moment during the pandemic. People paid more attention to where their food comes from while spending more time at home, and plant-based foods proved to be sustainable, opposed to animal-based foods. Surprisingly, this caused sales for plant-based meats and other plant-based products to grow 25% compared to animal-based products, which rose 9.5% from May 2020 to May 2021. In addition, with interest in reducing greenhouse emissions, billionaire Microsoft co-founder, Bill Gates, has shown support for the plant-based movement by investing in several faux meat startups, including Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, Memphis Meats, and Hampton Creek Foods. As the largest private farmland owner in the US, his decision to advocate for plant-based companies is powerful.


Started through Impossible Foods, Inc., alternative meat products are currently offered at various fast-food restaurants. A few listed here are Burger King’s Impossible Whopper, White Castle’s Impossible Slider, Red Robin’s Impossible Burger, TGI Friday’s Beyond Burger, The Cheesecake Factory’s Impossible Burger, and Hard Rock Café’s Impossible Burger, Del Taco’s Beyond Taco, and Dunkin’s Beyond Sausage Breakfast Sandwich. Through research and development, these new restaurant menu choices are viable options with taste, nutrition, convenience, and affordability


Although select plant-based products are sold at many grocery stores, Trader Joe’s grocery store is the place to be if you want your cart full of plant-based products. From plant-based alternative meats, cream cheese, and specialty drinks for humans to treats for your dog, Trader Joe’s is at the cutting edge of the plant-based movement.


Beyond Burgers
Beyond Burgers


How exciting to see what will happen next as more meat alternatives and plant-based product options become available.