2023 Trend Refresh 

Though this year’s Show is months behind us, the trends highlighted there are as relevant as ever when it comes to understanding the state of the industry and the current needs of consumers and operators. 

September 22, 2023

National Restaurant Show
From AI and robotics to unique new food and beverage creations, the 2023 Show served as a showcase for what’s new and next, providing inspiration for operators and exhibitors alike. Staying up to date on trends is crucial in an ever-changing industry, and the Show is a valuable resource for identifying the innovations and ideas that will impact foodservice this year and beyond. 

Up for a little review? Let’s take a look at five trends seen on the 2023 Show floor that continue to fuel businesses and inspire growth.


With consumers increasingly on the hunt for eco-friendly products, it’s no wonder that sustainability-focused branding popped up all over the 2023 Show floor. Experts say restaurants should take note, as marketing “natural, sustainable and responsibly sourced” items could be key to attracting Gen Z diners. Compostable packaging, plastic straw alternatives, plant-based offerings and ethically sourced seafood are all good options for operators looking to get on board and win new business.

Source: At the National Restaurant Association Show, brands leveraged sustainability as a marketing strategy (

Technology that helps ease labor woes

Tech suppliers know all about the industry’s labor challenges—and they’re here to help. Many of the Show’s most interesting tech products provide new ways to recruit labor and assess staffing needs. Examples include online on-demand staffing marketplaces, programs for tracking customer traffic and more. The takeaway is clear: labor problems may not be going anywhere, but creative solutions exist and can help ease the burden. 

Source: At the National Restaurant Association Show, technology moves to the back of the house (

Automation and AI for back-of-house support

With labor hard to come by and costs at an all-time high, automation and AI products are perfectly positioned to help operators pick up the slack. This year’s Show floor included a variety of products designed to simplify and streamline back of house operations, allowing for cost savings and quicker service. From computerized inventory and restaurant management systems to sushi-making robots and cooking oil collection systems, the future points towards more equipment, fewer humans. 

Source: At the National Restaurant Association Show, technology moves to the back of the house (

Plant-based seafood

New information on corruption and misinformation in the fishing industry has sent socially conscious consumers scrambling for seafood alternatives. The Show’s timely plant-based seafood demo—led by chef Brian Duffy—highlighted plant-based seafood’s potential as a means for culinary creativity and exploration. As a sustainable product, plant-based seafood once again provides operators the opportunity to show their commitment to social responsibility and attract Gen Z consumers. 

Source: Alternative Seafood Is 2023's Upcoming Trend For Ocean Lovers (

Spicy flavors

Post-pandemic consumers need memorable flavor experiences to justify their trips to restaurants. Spicy condiments like gochujang, sriracha and guajillo chili sauce—all hits on the Show floor—prove handy when it comes to turning a simple dish into a memorable one. For operators looking to create new buzz and recapture customer interest, upping the spice factor may be just the ticket. 

Source: Whats-Hot-Culinary-Trends-2023.pdf (

Latest from Blog

Business catering is booming. This year, 53% of corporate food buyers plan to increase their spending on catered meals in 2024, according to the latest ezCater data.

With over 2,100 exhibitors at this year’s Show, first-time attendee-operators have abundant opportunities to forge valuable connections. Our Exhibitor Advisory Committee (EAC) shares invaluable advice to help newcomers maximize their interactions with potential partners.

Step into the world of foodservice innovation with judges Dan Bendall (KI Awards) and Farley Kaiser (FABI Awards). Hear their perspectives on the selection process, this year’s awardees and the unique benefits of each program.