An Expert’s Take on Benchmark’s Top 2019 F&B Trends

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F&B trends, culinary trendsTea parties to gourmet bugs, Benchmark, a global hospitality company, shares next year’s piece de resistance—and one meetings expert weighs in on them.

We asked Tracy Stuckrath, president & chief connecting officer of thrive! meetings & events, long a champion of safe, clean and healthy eating in meetings, to add her thoughts to Benchmark’s 2019 F&B trends report.

The Tea Party

People are starting to think about tea with the same fondness as coffee, according to Benchmark. Tea bars are expected to trend big next year, as well as craft tea blending, nitro tea on tap and tea-infused cocktails.

“There are so many variations to tea; tea breaks and tea bars can add a new level of experience. There are also lots of options of flavors and caffeine level so it can appeal to many,” Stuckrath says.

Meat Lovers

Environmentally sustainable meat and protein alternatives like (tech-food) wheat and potato protein burgers that taste like meat are also forthcoming F&B trends.

To this, Stuckrath says: “Sustainable meats (pasture, grass-fed and local) are best for sourcing and are what attendees are looking for. Add to that, wanting to know the rancher and the butcher. For tech-food products it’s important to label the ingredients since they are being made with top allergens, including wheat.”

“80 percent of the world consumes insects, which are low in fat and contain 3 to 4 times as much protein as beef.”


Fermented tea, or kombucha, will trend in more boutique/lifestyle hotels and chef-driven, trendy eateries, says Benchmark. We’ll also see more kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, tempeh, kefir and many other foods fermented—increasing probiotics to improve the immune system, they say.

“A rage for sure!” says Stuckrath. “Kombucha would go well with the tea trend above. For those following healthier diets, fermented foods are good for the gut.”

Tastes Like Crickets!

Alternative sources of protein can cut down on food costs—and insects can be found everywhere. In fact, 80 percent of the world consumes insects, which are low in fat and contain 3 to 4 times as much protein as beef.

“Crickets and insect-based products are definitely trending. From snacks to main dishes, insects can be fried, sauteed, the main staple in cookies or as accompaniment to soup,” Stuckrath says. “Caution for the food allergic, crickets are arthropods (shrimp, crabs, and lobsters), and can cause allergic reactions for individuals with a crustacean shellfish allergy.”

Farm to Table 2.0

Still a tried-and-true trend where the chef/farmer or ‘chefarmer’ are farming with menus in mind, Benchmark says.

“[In terms of] culinary trends, this one has been around for a while and I think is here to stay. Knowing who your farmer is and where food comes from is important to a growing number of attendees. ‘Chefarmers’ will become the latest experts on what to eat and not to eat. Urban farms (inner city) are popping up everywhere and more and more restaurants, hotels and hopefully convention centers are partnering with local farmers to grow fruits and vegetables for them,” says Stuckrath.

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