The 5 biggest changes the Canadian restaurant industry has seen in the last decade

Posted on 08 february 2018

The past decade has been an exciting time to be in the food and beverage industry.

Leaps forward with technology, food prep techniques, emerging food science, and a growing interest in food itself from media and the general public have all combined for a fast-changing foodie scene.

As you struggle to keep up with ‘the next big thing’, it can be easy to forget to pause and reflect on some of the bigger changes that have affected your business. Taking the time to do so can be hugely helpful when it comes to prioritising your investments for the year ahead.

In this blog, we’ll look at the five biggest changes to the Canadian hospitality industry over the past decade - and how they may have impacted your business.


#1 – Food delivery apps

In a US study, Business Insider Intelligence revealed that orders placed via smartphone will make up more than 10% of all quick-service restaurant sales by 2020. At that point, mobile ordering is expected to be a $38 billion industry.

Like dating apps or banking apps, food-ordering apps has made the shift from minority to mainstream in the space of just a few years. UberEATS, Foodora, and Skip the Dishes are just a handful of the many apps that allow you to peruse local eateries, order, and pay – all without leaving the chesterfield.

This will affect your business in the shift from face-to-face interactions with your staff and venue, to a third party being your business’ ‘representative’. This brings about new considerations: how will your food travel for delivery? Does the company you align with have an ethos you’re happy to be a part of? How will your menu need to change to be more competitive?

#2 – Food photography

It is common knowledge that we eat first with our eyes, and then with our mouths. This being said it’s no surprise that with the rise of social media, amateur food photography has become a massive trend. Especially on Instagram with hashtags like #foodie, #foodporn, and #foodgasm having over 150 million images!

It’s always been said that food is the gateway into other people’s lives. Seeing what and how they eat gives us great insight into the sort of people they are and how they live.

For venue owners, managers, and head chefs, this means carefully thinking about how your food and venue looks when photographed by customers, so step up your game – you never know when a dish can go viral!

Case in point: some of the most visible trends online in Canada last year were fairly unpredictable. There was unicorn-themed milkshakes, charcoal ice cream, ‘cloud egg’ meringue, edible insects, and avocado toast. And the biggest driver behind these quirky trends? Great online photography.

Something like activated charcoal ice cream might not sound great on paper, but is a striking image to view: swirls of black, creamy ice cream on a black waffle cone is exciting and alluring.

#3 – Online reviews

The world of food reviews was once revered as territory only experts would dare enter. Restaurateurs would shake in their boots at the sight of a food reviewer pulling up a seat. Those reviews could make or break the reputation of a venue, and were treated as gospel.

Fast forward to present time, and everyone is a food reviewer. Sites like Trip Advisor, Yelp, and Zomato are open forums for diners – happy or unhappy – to leave their two cents worth for the internet to see. Food blogging has also become a hobby for foodie amateurs keen to guide the public on what’s hot, and what’s not, in their local area. Love them or hate them, online reviewers are around to stay – so you’re best to keep them happy…

#4 – Sustainable eating

Plant-based diets are a global trend for 2018, and Canadians are embracing it with gusto. ‘Plant butchers’ are serving mushroom burgers, bio-tech is creating ‘bleeding’ beetroot burgers, and ‘Meat Free Monday’ is now a staple event in many households.

Adopting a vegan or vegetarian diet has become a largely moral decision for Canadians as they struggle with issues of sustainability and factory farming. So it’s not always that they don’t like the taste of meat, it’s the idea of its effect on the planet that’s led them to give it up. This has left a gap in the market for meat-like, plant based options.

In Vancouver, there has been a proliferation of plant-based eateries. reports there are more than 115 vegan, vegetarian, and ‘veg-friendly’ restaurants, cafés, and other retailers in Metro Vancouver alone.

“Meanwhile, 11 Vancouver schools have adopted Meatless Monday programs and the University of British Columbia recently launched Canada’s first plant-based culinary training summit for chefs and food service professionals. In June, four Metro Vancouver cities attracted praise from Sir Paul McCartney for endorsing Meatless Monday.”

#5 – Start-up ventures

Canada is seeing more individual food and drink start-ups than ever before. Thanks to financiers like Silver Chef, the dream of a small business is more within reach than ever before.

‘Pop up’ concept venue may have once been met with suspicion, but are now the exciting new kids on the block. Customers don’t mind trying out new things, and are becoming less attached to old favourites, preferring to follow the latest trend or the coolest new spot.

Road testing your concept is also easier than before, with delivery apps allowing new businesses to trial their wares before investing in a more permanent bricks-and-mortar setup. Renting out commercial kitchens is another more recent concept that allows start-ups to create small runs to test the market before launch. All this and more is creating a fertile environment for more new Canadian start-ups than ever before.


Moving with the times is imperative when it comes to surviving in the hospitality industry.

Staying across the latest trends will help guide you when it comes to growing and changing your business – so enjoy the attention food and drink are getting in mainstream culture, and make it work for you!

The Restaurant Canada Show, Canada’s largest foodservice trade event, is on 25-27 February 2018 at the Enercare Centre, Toronto. Visit us at booth 1037 for great offers limited to the show only, and your FREE guide on innovation in the industry and how you can leverage this in your business. Don’t forget to catch us at the Speaker Stage where Silver Chef’s President Rob Phelps interviews a panel of experts on knowing which trends will work for you and which will be a passing fad, and maximising your kitchen equipment. Get your tickets here: