opening a coffee shop plan

Unless you’re the one starting a food trend, you’re already behind. (No one likes a stale rainbow bagel.) Wouldn’t it be nice if instead of playing catch up, you could get your restaurant menu to reflect the current trends before they even happen?

Well, it’s no crystal ball, but restaurant management platform Upserve has released its inaugural restaurant industry report offering insights that can help you get ahead of food trends currently rising in popularity.

Upserve used its database of millions of transactions made at thousands of customers across the United States to analyze menu items identified as entering hot trend territory for 2017. Sales were tracked for 2015, 2016 and 2017, eschewing the Instagram hype for each trend to determine what restaurant customers really want.

The findings?


The following dishes enjoyed a place in the spotlight in 2017:

  • Poke: While poke started the year off strong – in restaurants and on Instagram – sales declined throughout 2017. Poke is clearly still a strong seller, but the hype may be on the decline.
  • Sorghum: Touted by some as the newest super grain, sorghum sales were at an all-time in 2017, but still all over the map. Who knows if sorghum will stand the test of time, right now it’s on the decline. Based on these findings, Politico reports that sorghum may have “[lost] its luster.”
  • Sauerkraut: Fermented foodies united and put this German hotdog staple back on the trend map – but steeply declining sales at the end of 2017 indicate we won’t see much of it in 2018.

And these may not be worth the effort:

  • Empanadas: Despite solid sales in 2017, empanadas have been trending down year over year. They’re not likely to make a resurgence in 2018.
  • Kombucha: The beverage the sparked a fermented food movement, Kombucha saw a dip in sales towards the end of 2017. Maybe everyone is drinking apple cider vinegar now?  
  • Turmeric: Turmeric may have had a promising moment early on in 2017, but even at peak popularity, it still was never a huge driver. Turmeric saw a big downturn in the second half of last year indicating this spice should be shelved for 2018.

Keep an eye out for these rising stars:

  • Charcoal: Not just for grilling. Activated charcoal has been popping up on menus everywhere, in everything from lattes to froyo to cocktails, and isn’t showing signs of slowing down.
  • Jackfruit: Thank the vegans! Jackfruit, a tree-borne fruit billed as a “healthy and sustainable vegan meat replacement” saw a 131 percent growth in popularity in 2017. This fruit is flowering and that’s likely to continue this year.
  • Koji: Koji, the mold that makes miso, sake and soy sauce possible, wasn’t on the radar until April of 2016 when it started popping up on menus and checks (which didn’t even appear in our data till April of 2016). This menu item saw a jump in popularity in 2018, which means it may be on the cusp of getting bigger.

Upserve used its database of millions of transactions made at thousands of customers across the United States to analyze menu items identified as entering hot trend territory for 2017.


Interested in the data behind these menu trends and dozens of others? Or how about how your region ranks in terms of tipping and wages? Download the free industry report here.

Restaurateurs are always trying to stay ahead of changing consumer tastes. But the secret sauce is knowing what’s hype and what’s hot. Tacos are a safe bet says data in this industry report, based on millions of restaurant transactions nationwide.

Download The Report
Written by   |  
Meghan is an award-winning journalist and content marketing manager who lives to tell stories. Her favorites include highlighting all things restaurants, from front-of-house hospitality to back-of-house grit. When she's not writing about them, you can find her eating her way through Providence and Boston searching for inspiration with a rye Old Fashioned in hand.