Six exciting new food trends for the event industry in 2020


Hyatt Regency Johannesburg Chef Ryan Houston, offered Business Events Africa insights into the hottest food trends for 2020.

Wellness will continue to be a major focus in 2020, including for the event industry. We can therefore expect the new year to usher in fresh, healthy a

Hyatt Regency Johannesburg
Chef Ryan Houston.

nd colourful culinary options in the event industry!

Although it can be daunting for event organisers to keep up with the ever-changing food trends, it’s essential to know how delegates want to be wined and dined.

In fact, according to a new survey from US-based Eventbrite, food is the second most important factor people consider when deciding to attend an event. It outranks both the quality of the speakers and who else is attending.

1. Healthy equals happy
Modern banqueting offerings today tend to avoid fried options, and focus on grilling instead. We can expect healthy but tasty food to become the norm at events.

The new snack banquet offering at Hyatt Regency Johannesburg includes a yoghurt station with different condiments that allows delegates to build their own yoghurt.

Tabbouleh and Quinoa are new standard menu items – and delegates can expect more salsa verde and chimichurri instead of red wine jus. Beef kebabs replace beef stew and pork belly is served with a soya and sesame stir-fry.

For mains, Hyatt Regency Johannesburg will offer lean meat accompanied by flash-roasted, crunchy veggies instead of boiled vegetables, rice and potatoes.

This trend continues into dessert. Delegates no longer request the option of a doughnut and a yoghurt-based dessert. They are happy to be served only the yoghurt-based dessert.
The breakfast offering has also seen a revival.

Although eggs are still an all-round popular breakfast element, you won’t see plates piled high with bacon anymore. Part of our farmer’s market breakfast offering is a salad bar, which has to be replenished and refilled regularly during breakfast service.

2. Energy, flavour and colour
A long day of meetings and collaboration can leave a delegate feeling decidedly lacklustre. The right food can deliver a much-needed energy boost.

The Hyatt Regency Johannesburg’s dishes and snacks are colourful energy-boosters that lift people’s spirits. For example, our team makes their own health bars and granola bars, which we present in jars instead of single-use plastic wrappers.

For the main meals, we offer chicken breast fillets, delectable skewers or grilled fish topped with a baked olive and cocktail tomato fondue. These items all ensure that the plate looks colourful and appealing. Basil pesto is also a popular flavour and colour enhancer.

A pasta option without a heavy cream base is quite a successful energy-booster, since it contains carbohydrates which our bodies convert into energy. Although pasta is often considered heavy, if you combine it with sundried tomato, olive and fresh basil pesto, it places this dish in a different, more appealing light.

3. Food restrictions
Vegan. Vegetarian. Gluten-free. Dairy-free. Food restrictions are not a fad, and need to be an important consideration for event planners. On average, 10 per cent of conference delegates have specific dietary requirements or requests.

It’s important to have different foods readily available, make them easily identifiable and keep them separate from other foods.

4. Flavours from around the world
Local remains lekker, as it provides an authentic experience. Our new conference buffet offering includes elements like venison (goulashes and kebabs), bobotie, butternut, Cape Malay dishes, marogo, koeksisters, and milk tart.

However, global flavours that take delegates on a culinary trip around the world will also be popular in 2020. Asian cuisine still has a powerful influence and 2020 is no different, while the ‘sharing element’ of delicious Greek tapas and Mediterranean meze platters remains a firm favourite.

More than anything, the conference industry tends to lean towards anti-cuisine trends. People are looking for food at conferences that showcase the chef’s creativity, the country’s authenticity and the current seasonal ingredients.

5. Sparking memories through food
Food that brings back memories is also predicted to trend in 2020. Everything we do these days is linked to memorable experiences. Eating is no different. What we eat can stir a conversation or a sense of nostalgia, reminding everyone about the good old days.

At Hyatt Regency Johannesburg, we will choose the spiced-up versions of the food we once loved.

6. Smart snacking
Current research shows that 48 per cent of people replace meals with snacks three to four times a week.

For event planners, this means providing snacks throughout the day as opposed to large meals at set times. Delegates often finish the arrival snacks, as many of them skip breakfast and arrive hungry at the event. For the rest of the day, they prefer to snack.

The yoghurt, nut and fruit station tends to be very popular – as well as the smoothies on offer. For the afternoon breaks we serve, among other nibbles, popcorn with different spices as this makes for a light and healthy snack.