As 2016 starts coming to a close it’s take time to take stock of the food industry and consumer trends. If you own a restaurant or franchise, keeping your ear to the ground for major trends in the industry is of the utmost importance. You need to keep on top of your game and ahead of the market. What your customers want and delivering on that hugely impacts your bottom line, and keeps you on the cutting edge.
Here are some of the emerging restaurant trends for 2017:
While artisanal butchers and speciality meats continue to rise, there is a trend to partner that with plants. Vegetarianism and veganism has been steadily increasing, and this has led to corn, legumes, and fungi standing on the podium with bacon and steak. And it’s not just vegatarianism: meat eaters are also starting to enjoy vegetables as well. The days of meat and potatoes might soon be a thing of the past.
Consumers are more and more concerned about the amount of food waste at restaurants, making the industry be innovative on how they handle their waste. Some tricks to cut down on food waste is portion sizes (portions one person would be able to finish in one sitting), food waste logs, and inspired dishes using what is traditionally thrown away. Think beet burgers or the powering of pickling...everything. See also our article on how to reduce food cost in the back of house.
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Cocktails without the booze? Perfect for people who want a speciality drink early in the morning without the kick of liquor. Fancy muddled drinks, infused vinegars and not-so-simple sugar syrups are on the rise. Be on the lookout for things fancier than fresh-squeezed juice at your local restaurant.
Middle Eastern Cuisine
While the refugee crisis has been a humanitarian world crisis and political debate, it has also meant that Middle Eastern cuisine is starting to make its way around the world. This means more than just hummus: it means pomegranates, sour cherries, and sumac.
Food meets Function
Food is no longer just calorie intake and flavor- it also tied with health. Tumeric, apple cider vinegar, keifir, and cocunt milk (to just name a few) are trending as all have strong health related benefits from a healthier digestive track to enzymes to immune system boosting. Not only this but people are searching for foods that directly relate to health needs. This goes beyond gluten-free/vegan/soy-free restrictions- this is a person striving to optimize and make their body run at its highest potential.
A deeper dive into Mexican cuisine
Taquitos, Mexican chips, queso fresco, empanadas: the United States has made it past its burrito, taco, and quesadilla phase. They are now looking to what else their Southern neighbor has to offer. The love of the tortilla is still strong but what goes in it and what shape it takes is now set on a different course.
Pork: the other white meat
Bacon was a huge trend about 2 years. We saw bacon everything: bacon wrapped figs, bacon pancakes, bacon drinks, bacon donuts, bacon burgers. You name it, someone probably try to put bacon on it. Now the US is exploring the rest of the pig, falling in love with pork belly, pork shoulder and pig feet. We didn’t forget our love of bacon though, because bacon jam is still going strong.
Snacking is king. Anything that can be taken on the go or just popped into your mouth has become increasingly popular. Think mug cakes, cauliflower bites, taquitos, and protein bites. What makes snacks so powerful is that they can be quick, convenient, and great for portion control. Consumers are looking toward health, so having something sweet but also healthy they can eat on the go to indulge their sugar craving is big.
These are just a few of the trends we’re going to see in 2017. The main take-away is that a focus on the kitchen and food and where it all comes from is the over-arching trend. It’s a look back to tradition, to going out to the garden and making a meal from what you pick that day, to traditional dishes your grandparents made you, to making everything, absolutely everything, from scratch.