Insight into KSA’s Food trends for 2023
16 Jan 2023
The food industry is thriving in Saudi Arabia, Food Forward Consulting dishes up the hottest food trends making waves in the sizzling Kingdom.
Premium casual dining
As the Saudi youth population increases and Western influence grows, owners find themselves forced to revamp and reinvent their restaurant style and service to become increasingly lavish and luxurious. Diners are beginning to have higher expectations from casual dining restaurants.
Having responded favorably to features such as table reservations, rich and indulgent dessert options, great plating and table presentation, chef menu specials, and the availability of top chefs on board, the restaurant industry in Saudi Arabia will no longer be limited to casual offerings. Customers are demanding that the features and services that are usually reserved for fine dining be incorporated into casual dining, but with less formality and etiquette.
Major dining brands are eying Saudi Arabia as their ultimate destination. As Saudis' tastes evolve, the demand for luxurious and distinguished restaurants increases. Several renowned international restaurant chains, some of which have Michelin-starred branches abroad, will be debuting in Riyadh in 2023.
The Saudi government is striving to make the country a top culinary destination by embracing fine-dining concepts as part of its Vision 2030 strategy. Therefore, in order to improve the Kingdom's status as a touristic destination, greater efforts will be made to introduce additional foreign restaurants to Riyadh and other cities.
Saudis are increasingly opting for smokehouses over fast-food restaurants due to the growing desire for a healthy lifestyle. The majority of Saudis prefer meat-based dishes, which raises the market's need for specialty smokehouses.
Contrary to steakhouses, which use wood/charcoal/gas grills or a gas broiler to cook meat, smokehouses use smoldering fire for hours allowing the smoke to penetrate the meat, the final product is a masterpiece of taste for meat lovers.
Specialty coffee shops
The coffee scene is thriving in the heart of Saudi Arabia thanks to the government’s interest in raising the domestic consumption of specialty coffee in addition to boosting production. That is why, the government launched the Saudi Coffee initiative in 2022, which aimed to produce 5,000 tons of higher-quality coffee a year with the goal of exporting it at a significant scale by 2040. As a result, the number of specialty roasters and coffee shops in the nation has been rapidly increasing.
Since the pandemic ended, Saudis have been prioritizing social interactions with friends and family because they believe that experiences are just as important as eating. Their needs are drastically changing as the importance of healthy habits is gaining momentum. The focus on experience and health is likely to drive a shift away from fast food.
Delivery and dark kitchens
Home delivery will continue to have a sizable market in the Kingdom. However, the model will gradually evolve, with options for delivery to a wider range of locations.
In Saudi Arabia's major cities, dark kitchens are already gaining popularity. Over the next few years, this popularity is only expected to grow.
Healthy and sustainable concepts
The importance of health and well-being is increasing among consumers everywhere, as well as in Saudi Arabia. That is why restaurants are bound to introduce healthier menu options. Additionally, new brands will emerge in KSA with a specific focus on health and well-being.
The Saudi food industry relies largely on established regional and international brands. The market gap for homegrown concepts offering healthy options and locally sourced ingredients is estimated to be bridged in the coming years. Modern Fast Casual and All-Day Dining establishments are expected to increase in popularity as new high-end homegrown restaurants come into the market.
Ready to Eat and Food Retail
Ready-to-eat and food retail are particularly hard to come by. The demand for ready-to-eat food is rising globally as a result of consumers’ desire for convenience foods that can be consumed quickly.
As people become busier and more time-constrained, the need for such concepts will grow in the Kingdom.
The Saudi food industry is poised to flourish thanks to the increased demand for home delivery and optimal dining experience. The industry is gradually adapting to the new hybrid lifestyle of Saudis, and their need for premium dining, healthier food and beverage alternatives, and their pursuit of wellness, as well as their focus on ESG credentials.