After surveying leading chefs in the foodservice industry, the National Restaurant Association has released this year’s 2016 Culinary Trends Forecast foreshadowing the trends we may become accustomed to in 2016. From appetizers to desserts, the review can provide great insight toward targeting your menu for the New Year. Here are the Top 20 Food Trends on the list:
- Locally sourced meats and seafood
- Chef-driven fast-casual concepts
- Locally grown produce
- Hyper-local sourcing
- Natural ingredients/minimally processed food
- Environmental sustainability
- Healthful kids’ meals
- New cuts of meat
- Sustainable seafood
- House-made/artisan ice cream
- Ethnic condiments/spices
- Authentic ethnic cuisine
- Farm/estate branded items
- Artisan butchery
- Ancient grains
- Ethnic-inspired breakfast items
- Fresh/house-made sausage
- House-made/artisan pickles
- Food waste reduction/management
- Street food/food trucks
The Top 20 Food Trends highlight sourcing of products and ingredients. These stars include: locally sourced meats and seafood, local produce and sourcing and natural foods that are minimally processed. Look into combining minimally processed foods with local fare to create menu items that are distinct and only found at your establishment. Customers desire foods and dining experiences unique to the location, so providing local menu items can be a big selling point. Environmental concerns and sustainability also were popular predictions within the Top 20 list. Environmental sustainability, sustainable seafood and food waste reduction were highlighted. Keep an eye on different plans to ensure your environmental footprint is reduced and customers will take note.
Nutrition arrived in the top ten culinary themes, just behind simplicity. A leading trend forecasted in the kid’s meals category is providing more healthful options for the youngsters. Offering kids’ meals beyond the traditional macaroni and cheese or chicken nuggets could attract more family-oriented diners. Also falling into the nutritional trends, ancient grains are anticipated to be a popular accompaniment. Grains such as farro, freekeh and spelt can be added to soups for a more filling option or combined with veggies for a healthy side dish. With a more expansive nutritional profile than highly processed grains, ancient grains are an effective way to dive into a trend-setting menu.
Among the sub-categories beverages, desserts, and appetizers/small plates, house-made items reigned superior. Although they may require more skill and cost more to prepare, house-made ingredients can provide distinguished menu items that will attract crowds. Ethnic flavors were highly featured throughout the trends, however the review points toward providing authenticity in these flavors to ensure customer satisfaction. Try adding more diverse flavors with ethnic spices or condiments to increase the number of unique menu options. Ethnic spices can also add flavor to a dish without sacrificing the nutritional benefits or adding unwanted levels of fat and calories. Ethnic foods were highlighted in the breakfast/brunch category, so a gradual increase in ethnic offerings could begin with early morning fare.
Leave the menu of 2015 in the past and target the new 2016 culinary trends. While old favorites always have a place in a restaurant, add items that hone in on the new trends to help your foodservice business grow and succeed. Greet the New Year with new offerings and learn more about NRA’s culinary predictions here.