Benchmark’s culinary experts and executive chefs are looking to the future with the top dining trends for the next year. Check them out and let us know which ones you’re most excited about.

1. The Notorious C.B.D.

The CBD food trend has exploded over the last year and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. What’s CBD or Cannabidiol? It’s a naturally occurring, non-psychoactive compound found in the Cannabis flower, a plant with a rich history as a medicine known to reduce pain, stress and anxiety. Restaurants are incorporating the oil into their menus and event food and beverage offerings are starting to do the same. Try CBD in anything from alcoholic drinks to sparkling waters, coffees, teas or energy drinks.

2. The Incredible Sprouting Plant Ecosystem

More and more people are choosing to move away from meat and focus their dietary habits more on a plant-based program; therefore, meetings and events need to provide more food alternatives for meat and dairy. In 2020, we will see a rise on dedicated menus for plant-based food items, and a push for food invention to recreate meat and dairy flavors from non-meat and non-dairy products like soy, peas, cashews, and almonds.

3. Puffed the Magic Snack

Snacking tends to be a necessary evil of days full of meetings. Luckily, there are new products on the snack food market that are proving to be healthier than chips. Puffed snacks contain ingredients like chickpeas, beets, quinoa and kale – and while they might not be the most aesthetically pleasing, they will satisfy those snack cravings effectively.

4. Jackfruit – Possible & Beyond

The newest go-to meat substitute is jackfruit - a southeast Asian fruit that is a great source of iron, calcium, and B vitamins. The texture resembles that of pulled pork and therefore makes a great meat alternative for a BBQ event or company picnic. Host a blind taste test and see if your attendees can taste the difference.

5. Fruit Forward

Among the usual sweet flavors found on beverage menus, unique fruit flavors such as cactus, are taking mixology ideation by storm. Prickly pear and dragon fruit are specifically on the rise due to their sweet and sour flavor profile and colorful appearance. Other fruit varieties that people are exploring include citron, pomelo, blood orange, yuzu, Meyer lemon and makrut lime. See what fun beverages you can create with these new flavors.

6. Dairy Remix

Step aside almond and soy, oat milk has emerged as the new favorite of all the alternative milks. As it’s known to be great in lattes, try adding it to your next coffee station. Attendees will love the variety of options and that they are helping to minimize the environmental impacts associated with animal farming.

7. Sparkling Results

What event doesn’t benefit from a little more sparkle? The sparkling water demand is exploding and there are so many ways to incorporate it in your next meeting or event. Set up a fun beverage bar with various fruit and vegetable accoutrements or spice up your alcoholic offerings with cans of the popular sparkling seltzers. As a bonus, promote these drink options on social media before the event so guests can get excited about these low-sugar, trendy options.

8. Bright & Bold

In an age where social media is so important, consumers are looking for bright and bold foods that are Instagram-friendly. Color generates emotional appeal and with food, it may be becoming as important as taste. Appearance and functionality collide with ingredients such as blue algae, beet, matcha and butterfly pea flower tea.

9. More Traceability

Sustainability has been, and will continue to be, a driving force in the meetings and event industry. As news about climate change, plastic in the oceans and the disappearing rainforest continue to circulate, the use of eco-friendly products remains integral in today’s food and beverage operating model. Do your part by swapping out Styrofoam and plastic for paper or bamboo or buy ingredients from sustainable sources. And of course, say goodbye to the single-use plastic straws.

10. Ugly Produce

Food is a terrible thing to waste and yet 40 percent of all the food produced in the US goes uneaten because it is imperfect. Now, consumers are starting to accept misshapen, bruised and ugly foods as completely edible. Partner with a start-up food company that will send boxes of imperfect fruit and vegetables directly to you – we’re sure event attendees won’t be able to taste a difference.

By the time the now-iconic photo of one Fyre Festivalgoer’s pitiful cheese sandwich had gone viral, social media platforms and news outlets were abuzz with shock and bewilderment—questioning how the seemingly star-studded island excursion could have resulted in half-built FEMA-issued tents, cancelled musical acts and stranded attendees.


What these leaders may not realize is that the old approach to meetings, where someone talks the team to sleep is quickly becoming unacceptable. Companies and planners everywhere are ditching their boring meetings and adopting more effective practices.
Two factors driving revolution throughout the modern workplace also demand a new way of meeting: digitalization and VUCA, short for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.

Digital Workplace Meetings


Our editorial advisory board sounds off about what’s happening in their sectors of the meetings and events world.