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Food & Beverage Trends on the Radar for 2020

In the greater food industry, it seems like there are always new ingredients and flavors flowing in — it’s not that they’re new, but rather newly discovered by the general public. These trends ultimately trickle down to special events and catering, as our clients’ demands align with the culinary standards set by restaurants, chefs, and food blogs around the world.

It’s not just food, either. Serving styles and catering functions are also subject to the latest trends, with interactive dining taking precedence in recent years. In a way, this adheres to the greater trend of experiential design in the events industry.

Weddings, corporate galas, bar mitzvahs, and the like are no longer just plated meals and a dance floor; instead, special events have become fully curated and personalized experiences that leave guests wanting more.

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With that said, let’s take a look at what we can expect in food and beverage trends for 2020.

Photo courtesy Nightingale Photography -

Snacks galore

Rather than a couple of main offerings for the entrée, we’ll see mini versions of fan-favorites displayed as snackable buffets. Think fish tacos, stuffed egg rolls with dipping sauces, chicken or tofu strips, and more. Not only is this serving style great for socializing (hello, cocktail hour!), but snacks are also fully kid-friendly so it’s an excellent choice for events of all kinds.

Crafted cocktails

We’ve been seeing handcrafted beverages on the scene for a while now, but expect to see more creativity and curation in this area. Clients seek authenticity and want their event to tell a story, so things like handpicked herbs and fruits from the onsite garden or locally-crafted bitters are perfect for tying all the details together. Freshly-picked berries, herbs, orange or lemon zest can all add an extra-special punch to any cocktail (or mocktail, for that matter!).

Food stations 2.0

There have been plenty of interactive food stations in recent years; in 2020, these experiential features will remain a popular choice but with elevated taste as a priority. Seafood is making a comeback, like full arrays of half-shell oysters on ice and a condiment bar for garnish. Wine and cheese pairings also make a great choice for a food station.

A fresh alternative to cake

Dessert has always been a big part of special events, but there’s always something new to compete with cake. We’ve seen donut walls, cupcakes, cookie bars, and more, but this year, we’re seeing smoothie bowls make their way onto the dessert menu. Smoothie bowls offer a clean, eco-friendly option for a refreshing treat. Carved fruit, like pineapples and coconuts, can even be repurposed as bowls for an extra-special touch.

With these 2020 developments on the horizon, the future of the catering industry has a lot to gain — and a lot of room to grow, as well. Do what you can to stay abreast of the latest trends by keeping an eye on trade magazines, conferences, industry blogs, and word-of-mouth. The more versed you are in catering trends, the better prepared you’ll be to meet each and every one of your clients’ needs.

(lead photo courtesy Sunshower Photography –

Clint Elkins

Clint Elkins is the VP Sales for SB Value located in Charlotte, NC. Clint, a former professional race car driver, was one of the top motorsports promoters in the country by the age of 35. Clint used that experience and passion for business to launch his second career in a sales and marketing. Outside of work Clint enjoys spending time on his family farm and coaching his two daughters softball teams. Clint is also an avid cook and self proclaimed badminton superstar.