Ah, November how we love thee. It’s time to look forward to foodservice trends for 2014, thanks to US giant Technomic who is a leading foodservice research and consulting firm.
There’s always one that causes us to crinkle our noses and think ‘what the…?’ but the rest are more gradual evolutions: What is your favourite on the list? Our comments on each are below in italics.
1. Convince me it’s real: Consumers want assurances that what they’re eating is real—in every sense of the word.
Don’t forget to list where your ingredients come from and how they are prepared. Beef from the farmer up the road? Put it on the menu. Potential that might change? Make provisions to update your menu more regularly, hey even print on your bubblejet printer if that’s what it takes!
2. Pushing the parameters of proteins: Rising commodity costs for beef mean (of course) that chicken will be big again in 2014. However, the latest protein star is pork—appearing in regional barbecue items, in Hispanic and other ethnic fare, in charcuterie and as pulled-pork sandwiches.
Australia already has a love affair with pork, so just keep doing what you’re doing folks! And lucky for us, there’s a culture of appreciation for less expensive beef cuts developing, so don’t write our beloved beef off the menu- just get creative!
3. Return of the carbs: Starches are staging a comeback—from ramen to buckwheat noodles to pasta made with unusual ingredients. Rice bowls (and jasmine rice, basmati rice, brown rice) will be big, in part because of continued fascination with Asian fare and in part because of an association with healthfulness. Look for more in the way of flatbreads, wraps and all kinds of artisan breads, including healthy whole-grain varieties. Waffles as a base or side make traditional savory items like chicken seem edgy.
One cannot help but crinkle their nose at the thought of chicken with waffles… #SoNotEdgy
4. Creamy, cheesy, high-fat goodness: The demand for healthier eating is real, but so is the backlash. We’ll see even more cheese melts, pasta with creamy sauces, fried appetizers and sides, and oddities like doughnut-based sandwiches.
The secret to winning with this trend is balance- fresh zingy flavours to counteract the indulgence of creamy and fried goodness. Think about offering a few interesting, fresh side salads on the menu.
5. Pucker up: Forays into less-familiar ethnic cuisines, from Korean to Scandinavian, are partly responsible for growing interest in pickled, fermented and sour foods. Korean kimchi as well as pickled onion, jalapeno, ginger, radish and more are showing up everywhere from ethnic eateries to burger joints.
Pickles and cuts of meat such as beef cheeks, lamb and pork belly are just a match made in heaven as the acidity of the pickling vinegar cuts through the fatty richness of meat. This trend is a winner.
6. Day for night: Consumers are less likely to eat according to a three-square-meals schedule; they nosh, skip meals, eat breakfast for dinner and vice versa.
We’re seeing plenty of adventurous breakfast options out there already (breakfast curry, anyone?) but how about more brunch at dinner? Time to stock up on eggs and revisit potato hash for the nocturnal crowd..
7. Every daypart is a snack daypart As customers move away from meat-and-potatoes meals, operators are catering to the snacking-and-sharing ethos with pairings, trios and flights from all parts of the menu—from soup trios to beer samplers to retro popsicle-flight desserts.
Think share style, but not necessarily Mediterranean. Easy!
8. On tap: Tap technology is revolutionizing the beverage world.
Where’s your soda water, cold filtered coffee, wine tasting station? If you’re planning a new fit out, this is a great way to save money and up the cool factor at your venue.
9. For fast service, bring your own device: ….we’ll primarily see a bring-your-own-device system of advance and inside-the-restaurant ordering—as well as more customer feedback and interactive conversations.
In a nutshell- technology isn’t going away. Spend the time to research apps that allow your customers to place their order from the table to kitchen. Maybe it’s your device, maybe it’s theirs.
10. Everything is political: Consumers are increasingly aware that the personal is political—that their choices and those of the restaurants they patronize regarding food, treatment of employees and suppliers, sustainability and the environment have real consequences. Consciously or unconsciously, they will gravitate to concepts that share their worldview, and some restaurants will promote this cultural identification.
This is so incredibly true. It’s entirely up to you to choose your customers through your actions (or inaction).
Are there any others you think should be added to this list? We think (for Australia at least) food carts and pop up food stands should be on this list. They’ve emerged as a ‘thing’ in 2013, and we predict a boom in 2014