How to Capitalise on 2023 Autumn & Winter Food Trends

The leaves are turning brown, the smell of pumpkin spice hangs heavy in the air and summer is a rapidly fading, warm memory. But as the nights draw in, it’s the perfect time to embrace those autumn food trends that inevitably herald the changing of the seasons.

If you’re in the restaurant and café industry, capitalise on the shift as customers switch to warmer fare and begin indulging in the run-up to Christmas.

Autumn brings with it traditional flavours each year but in a bid to attract customers during the cost-of-living crisis, making the most of those seasonal trends can generate greater sales and lead to a more positive end-of-year quarter for your hospitality business.

Warm and inviting

As the days become shorter and the nights colder, people tend to switch their ice creams and salads for hot soups and coffees. Iced frappuccinos are out and hot chocolates are in. Think cosy slices of carrot cake and creamy coffee in a toasty café, watching shoppers meander on by. But this year has also seen the rise of ‘swicy’ a moreish combination of sweet and spicy e.g., Dijon mustard and honey, so expect to see this pairing for some time to come.

Traditional autumn tastes

Of course, autumn wouldn’t be autumn without Starbucks’ popular pumpkin spice latte making its annual appearance. But the coffee shop giant is mixing it up a bit this year by including a pumpkin cold brew, and a toffee and apple muffin. Follow their lead by adding some unusual autumnal treats to your café, or by creating a special harvest dinner for your menu.

Consider also creating dishes which feature pumpkin, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, swede and carrot – all popular hearty vegetables which evoke that quintessential autumnal feel.

Halloween howlers

Halloween is just around the corner, which is the perfect opportunity to theme your menu around pumpkins, ghosts and ghouls. Clichéd though it may be, Halloween is big business, with special October menus, discounts and events. If you don’t have time to create Halloween-themed dishes, simple menu name-changes like Frankenfurters or Ice Scream can add a new twist, and it should be easy to do in your restaurant Point of Sale system.

As well as coming up with Halloween dinner ideas, remember cocktails – they’re a great way to add some devilish new flavours for October.

Festive flavours

Amaretti biscuits, gingerbread, mixed spices, mince pies, Lebkuchen cookies, turkey and cranberry, nut roast – the list of festive flavours simply goes on and on. Christmas is the perfect time to ramp up your marketing by adding seasonal offerings. It’s also an opportunity to capitalise on increased footfall and exuberant shoppers who are more likely to stop for a bite to eat or a drink.

Naturally, if you’re offering something new or seasonal on your menu, you want people to know about it, which is why getting your autumn marketing in place the minute the first leaves turn brown is so important.

Luckily, food is extremely visual, so it provides you with plenty of opportunities for great content which you can then publish across all your marketing and social media channels.

Update your website

If you make seasonal changes to your menu, don’t forget to change your website to match, and your branding, items and descriptions need to be consistent and up-to-date too. With Square Online you can easily change and amend products from anywhere.

Social media

Social media is an obvious way to announce your winter food trends or Halloween-themed launch to your followers, but don’t just leave it as a picture of a new dish. Level up your engagement by regularly posting behind-the-scenes footage, showing your customers how the dishes are created, what goes on in the kitchen and how the staff interact. Have them dress up in Christmas or Halloween costumes, or hold special themed events and then use any coverage from those to further promote your business.

Remember to:

  • Engage with your followers by liking and replying to their comments

  • Use relevant hashtags, for example, #autumnfoodtrends or ##fallfoodflavours

  • Add a call to action

  • Make it easy to view your menu or book a table

Email marketing

Autumn is a great time to target your existing email lists of customers and contacts by sending out material promoting seasonal food trends. It’s easy to do through Square Marketing which lets you send, track and automate email marketing campaigns with ease.

Customise your templates to create that all-important autumn or winter feel. Create it, send it and let it work its magic, while you get on with running your business.

Making a few tweaks to your menu with a nod to some familiar winter food trends is an easy and cost-effective way to promote your restaurant, café or bar in the run-up to Christmas. With a few simple marketing strategies in place, you can increase your customers, boost your turnover and make the most of one of the busiest shopping periods of the year.