Always-anticipated annual report includes surprises from fire hot dishes and tequila to fries with salads
It is called the 2023 Delivered report and it synthesizes data from literally millions of orders from diners across the U.S. It is arguably one of the best views into current food and beverage trends.
Campuses should take this data to heart. It is an invaluable glimpse into what our students want to eat in our dining locations and order through our mobile ordering apps.
So what can we learn?
Though most of us, at times, fall back to our mainstays and comfort foods, the most frequently ordered dishes change year-to-year at a surprising rate.
Nearly 40% of consumers prefer to dine at places that source food locally, and 70% of millennials will pay more for sustainable packaging.
Last year, the comfort of a warm burrito led the pack, but in 2023 upping the heat (spicy heat) level of almost every dish, breaking the taboo of pineapple on pizza, and late-night coffee kept both restaurants and delivery drivers hopping.
To put numbers to it, 53 million orders included extra spice – Siracha nearly 100,000 times – and ten million people ordered coffee at night (across all coffee orders, iced coffee dominated).
Shocking to many, the top five spicy dishes for the year did not include the chicken wing. Spicy potato soft tacos, spicy chicken sandwiches, spicy tuna rolls, hot and sour soup, and drunken noodles topped the list.
Thanks in part to TikTok’s #dietcokebreak trend, Diet Coke was the leading beverage ordered, increasing 17% from 2022. Rounding out the top five were Coke, Sprite, Dr. Pepper, and Ginger Ale.
To the surprise of almost no one, french fries were the number one side. The fact that they were ordered alongside salads more than 600,000 times, however, is a bit of a shocker.
Pineapple on pizza rose 33% year over year, ranking it fifth on the pizza index. Plain cheese still won out, followed by margherita, pepperoni, and buffalo chicken.
Pickles could be the year’s biggest winner. They were added to meals nearly 90% more often than in 2022. That’s nearly seven million pickles ordered in 2023.
And still wondering about drums versus flats on chicken wings? We ordered ten times more flats than drums. What do they do with all those extra drums?
According to a 2023 preview article from Grubhub, there is some good news for both the planet and American’s health. Plant-based foods are on the rise. The U.S. vegan food market is predicted to increase by $21 billion (40%) by 2026.
Vegetarians are not the only ones driving this increase. Diners with lactose issues, allergies, and concerns about sustainability are also pushing the growth. Nearly 40% of consumers say they plan to purchase plant-based meat substitutes in 2023.
Sustainability is also taking a bigger role in the food industry. The National Restaurant Association reports that nearly 40% of consumers prefer to dine at places that source food locally, and 70% of millennials will pay more for sustainable packaging.
Oh yeah, tequila is caliente.