Catering: Meeting trends for 2020

When you’re organising a corporate event, the catering is a key part of the complete attendee experience.

During the past 12 months, the trend has been for sustainable catering options and this looks set to continue throughout 2020.

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As well as event organisers, venues and caterers supporting the bid to cut out single-use plastics, new catering trends are emerging for meetings.

Inclusive dietary options
As the medical profession becomes more aware of the effects of food allergies, providing a wide choice of dietary options is vital. In bygone times, there may have been a selection of salads and egg mayo sandwiches for a few vegetarians, but this is no longer enough!

For many people, eating a special diet isn’t simply a preference, it’s a necessity for health reasons, so organisers must do everything they can to ensure the attendees’ safety and well-being. Create a specialised menu that takes into account people who have allergies and dietary requirements, such as meat-free, dairy-free, vegan, gluten-free, low-sugar and nut-free options.

The latest trend is plant-based proteins, with the plant food market expected to reach a massive £3.9 million worldwide by the end of 2020. Vegan products are available for everything from meatballs and tacos to fish substitutes, so it’s not difficult to come up with a great menu that will suit all tastes.

Artificial intelligence
Keep your eye on AI in 2020, as it’s set to become increasingly involved in catering for events. It may sound futuristic, but robots could soon be hard at work in commercial kitchens. The latest non-human catering staff were unveiled at the CES tech conference in Las Vegas in January.

Food and beverage company Centerplate and food tech company Picnic are joining forces to produce robots to make pizzas. The robot will be able to put together around 300 twelve-inch pizzas every hour. The Javits Center in New York already has its own robot, Sally, manufactured by Chowbotics.

She prepares salads to speed up the process and reduce food waste. One of the benefits is that while the costs of food and labour are always increasing, the cost of robots, like most technologies, is likely to get cheaper over time. Experts believe robots’ presence will grow for this reason.

Grab and go
A new catering trend called “grab and go” is set to sweep the events industry. Aimed at providing high-quality, convenient fast food, your teams can grab a quick snack between breaks to keep hunger pangs at bay – sitting at a conference with a grumbling tummy can detract from your participation in the event.

The idea of grab and go is to let delegates grab a small meal and get straight back to work. The snacks are mainly healthy, savoury, salty, bitter and spicy, rather than foods with lots of sugar. The idea is to make it easy for the attendees to grab a small portion that they can carry easily while working and mingling at the same time.

The snack foods are mini-gourmet dishes, served with a drink that complements the meal in hand. Bite-size portions can be displayed on tables with foods that can pair with each other for the best flavours. Drinks that go with each snack can stand behind in mini-fridges.

Providing small portions will also enable delegates to sample more foods without feeling overwhelmed. The menu can become an ice-breaker in itself and can let delegates try local produce with a “grab and go” vibe.

Tea stations
A great cup of tea can make delegates feel more comfortable and welcome. Now, rather than providing a teapot, tea bags and hot water, event organisers are going for a purpose-built tea station. An authentic tea bar provides many varieties of tea. While people enjoy a cup of coffee, research has revealed three cups of tea are drunk per one cup of coffee worldwide, so putting the focus on a good cup of tea is following the trend.

As well as traditional tea, fruit and floral flavours are always popular. According to a survey by Whole Foods, the latest flavour that everyone loves is pumpkin spice, while rose and lavender teas are popular among health-conscious delegates looking to cut their caffeine consumption.

Using a little imagination with the catering can be a big boost for any meeting. There used to be an old saying, “An army marches on its stomach!”

This is also the case for your workforce. When the food at a meeting isn’t up to par, attendees will feel hungry and may be thinking about this, rather than the business in hand. For a productive event, it pays to ensure they’re all well-fed!

We give the best prices on all our meeting venues. To find out more about our high-quality facilities and packages, which can include catering options, contact &Meetings on 0800 073 0499.


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