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Forecasting 2018 Food Service Industry Trend with Keywords

Forecasting 2018 Food Service Industry Trend with Keywords




2018 Food Service Industry and Consumer Trend Conference was held December last year. It was an opportunity to review keywords of the consumer trend in food service industry 2017 and forecast 2018 trend. Then, what will be the key drivers to lead food service industry in 2018? Here is the outlook for 2018 food service industry defined with keywords.




The frequency of eating out per month in 2017 was 14.8 times, declining a bit from 15 times in 2016. The frequency of eating out alone increased from 3.7 times to 4.1 times in monthly average. The cost of eating out at restaurants started to decline from 2015 and food delivery service showed an increasing trend.

Looking at the keywords in food service industry 2017, it can be summed up as the boom of eating out alone, diversification in semi eating-out practices, premium fast food and rebooting of traditional Korean food. ‘The boom of eating out alone’ indicates that a table for one in food service industry becomes the norm as consumers are increasingly eating or drinking alone.

The trend of ‘diversification in the practice of semi eating-out’ means the place of eating out is not limited to restaurants and a growing number of consumers enjoy takeout food at home. ‘Premium fast food’ to enjoy healthy and premium food while eating fast food was another eye catching trend in 2017. Lastly, ‘rebooting of traditional Korean food’ meaning fusion Korean food becoming more popular was another factor to represent the food service industry trend 2017.

Now, let’s take a look at the keywords to forecast food service industry trend in 2018.




The first keyword in food service industry 2018 is ‘satisfaction for money.’ Satisfaction for money is differentiated from value for money that compares product quality against price as it put priority on consumer satisfaction even if it means more money. The millennium generation born from 1980 to early 2000 is the ones who lead the trend of satisfaction for money.

Consumers seeking satisfaction tend to consume for refreshment. When they eat out, they put more value on the decoration of food, plating techniques or interior of the restaurant, rather than price. In the same context, the alley lined with pretty and fancy stores and restaurants serving unique menus are gaining popularity.




The 2nd keyword is ‘Big Blur.’ Big Blur means boundaries among businesses in food service industry are getting blurred as unmanned service and automation are introduced and expanded. Placing order to a machine, instead of service staff at a fast food store is an example of Big Blur.

Development of delivery app, kiosk and e-payment system tears down the boundaries between online and offline and this leads to big changes in food service industry, too. As AI is further advanced and more and more consumers seek ways of convenient consumption, the trend is expected to get stronger.




The trend of ‘Semi- eating out’ is expected to be widespread in 2018. Expansion of semi eating-out practices means the boundary between eating out and cooking & eating at home becomes blurred. As more consumers eat takeout food in places other than restaurants and also enjoy eating-out menu at home, using delivery service, now, the space of eating-out is not limited to restaurants.

The trend starts from increase of eating out alone and development of HMR (Home Meal Replacement). The choices for semi eating-out are expected to increase from Korean food to desserts. Also, takeout and delivery service for side dishes and ready-to-cook meals is expected to become more premium and further developed.




The last keyword to define 2018 food service industry trend is ‘development of single item of Korean food.’ Generally Korea food is served with many side dishes, along with steamed rice. Development of single items means breaking away from the traditional practice and reducing the number of side dishes to simplify the assortment of the food on the table.

Choosing and selling selective few menus to represent the restaurant is another trend in the same context. Consumers in Seoul metropolitan area love menus from each region like pork soup, Pyeongyang cold noodle and bean sprout soup and this shows how single item of Korean food is being developed. The trend is expected to continue in 2018 and service of restaurants is expected to evolve to be optimized for these single items.




We are all looking forward to seeing new changes in food service industry in 2018. Those working in the industry may need to study the keywords in food service industry trend 2018 and develop strategies to respond to the changes actively.

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