Given there has been a huge shift over the past few years in food as a whole. People are becoming more educated, more aware and conscious of what they intake on a daily basis. So lets look into some of the food trends happening this year.
To the restaurateurs: This may help you produce a more consumer driven menu and possibly give you a few pointers as to why consumers are buying what they are, doing what they are doing and changing the face of the restaurant service industry.
I can say confidently that the internet is accountable for a lot of these changes. It has made us smarter, aware and in most cases change how we approach food. So lets not take it out on technology but instead learn more.
What are the latest tends happening in food? This post was inspired by the survey produced by the National Restaurant Association where you can download any of their PDFs here with lots of juicy information. Inspiring me to do a wider search of trends in food and facts that may help you with your food habits, menus or overall knowledge.
That being said, lets dive in:
Being the number one spot on the overall National Restaurant Associations List for Top Food trends in 2015, and given our environmental status globally it is becoming more and more important to have food that is local. Being a top trend since 2009, it is one that effects our future of how we eat and can dramatically effect our ecosystem and planet. As a consumer it is important to know you are eating locally and as a restaurant owner to have this on your menu can drive people to it – along with doing good for the planet. A study states that ‘regional authenticity’ has been proven to sell well with millennia’s in particular.
Along side this, the craft of making your menu items in house is also running strong, from ice-cream, cheese to bacon, lemonade to beer. Having ‘signature’ or ‘made in-house’ item, gives a sense of love for your craft. This also goes hand in hand with locally sourced ingredients as it ties in local seasonal menus.
Specific terms on a menu have a tendency to sell really well. The customer is informed that there is no GMOs or there is no additional byproducts and they can sleep well knowing they have made a healthy and moral choice. From a restaurant standpoint this shows you will cater to the customers needs. Given that all people are different and everyone has specific needs and wants. So using these terms can enhance the customer experience along side positive effects to your bottom line.
Note: According to restaurant business online the word ‘fresh’ has actually lost its charm given it can be altered by perception. So mentioning ‘caught daily’ or ‘prepared this morning’ can be used in replacement of it.
In the US the FDA has made it monitory to list food calories on menus by December 2016. This being said you will most likely see a shift in not only the way menus are designed but the factual content and descriptions on the menus. If a description shows only the calorie count and not the nutritional value will this alter decisions on whether a person will buy it or not? According to a survey done in NY city this only sways about 15 percent of the buyers choice. Although as a whole, people may have a shift in how they read a menu and this may alter decisions dramatically in the long run.
This topic has been in the works for a while and first gained my attention in this article by Forbes. Although in its youth, 3D food printing is on the rise and ‘highly promised’ as one article states. You may be seeing more of this modern technology breaking through in fine dining restaurants near you. It is a way to combine the technology of computer generated content and the ever so old craft of presenting food. ‘3D food printing has the potential to revolutionize food production.’ So definitely looking to see more on this topic in coming months.
In regards to technology as a whole, apps, digital menus/tablet computers and phone payment methods are becoming mainstream. These days customers are more tech-savy and see the advantage, making it more of a norm given its convenience and simple adaptability.
A survey done through Open Table out of the UK has you thinking about how to bring in technology to your restaurant. Whether it be having a menu online, payment options through your phone, even having customers choose their seat before even entering your restaurant — these are topics on consumers minds and rightfully so.
With a whole new generation into D-I-Y, the trend in drinks seems to be in the craft of producing it. Craft beers particularly have boomed here in Toronto and Quebec. There are 167 brewers open in Ontario today, just over half are less than two years old.
On the Restaurants Canada website it mentions how craft beers rise to the top in their Canadian Chef Survey. Mentioning how locally sourced foods came in second. ‘Beer is dear to Canadians’, that is for sure! Check out the full infographic here for more info.
That being said the craft of drinks in general has become more of a novelty while putting more pressure on the bar/establishments as the drinks take longer to make and their tastes and ingredients may be more complex. But this generally establishes quality given the time and effort put into a single beverage, which then gives you the ability to increase the price in reflection of this.
Although the concept of the concept restaurant is nothing new, they still are opening here and there. On a global scale the concept restaurant has boomed which may have derived from the TV show; World’s Weirdest Restaurants with host Bob Blumer. In Toronto alone there have been a few that have made a name for themselves like Signs Restaurant where you must order your food in sign language as well all the servers are deaf, giving great career opportunities to the deaf community. Or even the restaurant where you eat in the dark called oNoir. Which plays a good role on your taste buds given one of your senses have been taken away.
Have a look here at some of the top weirdest restaurants. Some are just way out there.
Kids are playing a larger role in food these days, with first Lady Mrs. Michelle Obama being a advocate to eating right and developing programs with kids helping them eat better in school across the US. Not to forget some great Food Network shows that involve kids like Kids Baking Championship or Rachel vs. Guy Kids Cook-Off.
Our kids are getting much smarter with food, which is great for generations to come.
Many sources I read said when you go to a restaurant hotdogs and grill cheese sandwiches on the kids menus will certainly not do anymore. One of the top trends is diversity and options for kids in family friendly restaurants, along side a shift in healthy spin-offs of these classics for the young ones.
As it was last year, high on the trend chart for restaurants and food service providers. Social media being at the forefront of marketing and advertising for restaurants, whether it be marketing, digital content, engagement of customers or promotions — it is easily accessible and helps restaurants thrive without a huge budget.
As it is said in this article, social media users dine out more often which means if you want to have social (positive) presence, be social and interact with your customers by listening to what they have to say.
Marketing for restaurants (with social media being at the forefront) is a changing landscape, so it is important to stay involved and informed. Check out this video on Social media Fundamentals.
This being very similar to the number 3 and awareness of nutrition. Although having specific catered needs on a menu can differ you from your competition. The customer now knows just because it is a salad doesn’t mean it’s healthy and vice-versa, because it’s not a salad doesn’t mean it isn’t healthy so restaurants are becoming focused on healthy eating as a whole. Not only this, a lot of restaurants are planting items into their menus that are specific to customers needs like vegan options, gluten free items, lower calories, high fiber items, low sodium options etc.
Want to do more research? Here are a few resources that helped me:
All and all I hope most of these trend become more of a revolution — like in the case of sustainability and healthy eating. But time will tell. Hope you enjoyed my breakdown of Food trends for 2015. If you haven’t seen last years breakdown have a look at last years document I did with a chapter on trends.
Cheers & Thanks for Reading!