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Happy New Year! It’s time to welcome the trends of 2016

Foodservice trends today are changing faster than Kim Kardashian’s online image, and it’s becoming harder and harder to keep up.

 

By Jane Auster

 

Want to understand what’s driving today’s dining-out habits and what these trends mean to you? Read on as some of the best-connected foodservice professionals share their insights:
Totally tech
Generation Z is embracing ordering online or from their phone, looking at ingredients online, and finding secret menus. Technology is playing a big part in the success of some restaurants. A great example is Panera and how they’ve been able to develop secret online-only menus.
– Chef Richard Calladonato, Executive Chef with Campbell’s Foodservice Away from Home Division
iPad everything
It’s iPad everything. Think of the cost and logistics in a restaurant and the number of times a server has to service the diner. The iPad puts the power with the diner. The drinks person doesn’t have to come over; the food person doesn’t have to come over; there are no back-of-house registers. The diner places the order, and they are still getting good service, but they are getting it when they want it. With the iPad, diners can swipe their card and away they go.
– John Placko, chef-consultant, Modern Culinary Academy and Powder for Texture
Community awareness
Gen Z and some of the millennials are passionate about community involvement. They research everything, and how operators give back to their communities can influence their dining decisions. Operators should consider how they give back, whether it’s through local farms or donating food to local food pantries, and then be sure to communicate those activities on their websites or social media.
– Chef Richard Calladonato, Executive Chef with Campbell’s Foodservice Away from Home Division
Veg-centric menus
“Veg-centric” is going to make big moves on Canadian menus in 2016. Not to be confused with vegetarian, veg-centric dishes make vegetables stand out through flavour-forward cooking methods, like roasting, caramelizing, charring and grilling. We know that Canadians are trying to add more vegetables to their diets than anything else (Ipsos Reid Foodservice Monitor, 2015). As protein prices continue to present challenges to foodservice professionals, the trend in veg-centric dishes provides an opportunity to offer value while watching the bottom line.

– Deborah Bobier, Consumer Insights Manager, Foodservice, KraftHeinz Company

 

Menus that make claims
The strongest trend I see for 2016 is the request for “CLAIMS”. Operators who are looking forward are asking the question: What can I say about my menu item? It truly is about the story. I have always stated that every adjective is worth 45 cents on a menu because you need to tell your customer about the quality and skill that went into making the dish to help show the value and get a good selling price. The term “compassionate carnivore” from the book by Catherine Friend really says it all. Our customers are educated about what they eat, where it’s from, and how was it treated throughout its life.
Chef James Keppy, National Culinary Manager – Foodservice, Maple Leaf Foods
Pre-paid dinners
One of the major trends when it comes to the diner, and I think this will be a global trend, is the pre-paid dinner. (Restaurateur) Nick Kokonas out of Chicago starting doing this after his business was losing an average of $260,000 a year in no-shows. It works much the way you buy tickets to sporting events online. People book their table and pay for it in advance with a tip. Diners are jumping on this system. Some will be skeptical, but most people have been quite happy with the result.
– John Placko, chef-consultant, Modern Culinary Academy and Powder for Texture
Grocery stores may be eating your lunch
Grocery stores are competing with QSRs. The food is good, and the variety is often better than what you can get at a restaurant. Retailers like Loblaws and Wegmans are really into fresh food and packaged foods, and they understand consumers and what they’re looking for. Operators have to be on their game to compete with the convenience and variety of grocery.
– Chef Richard Calladonato, Executive Chef with Campbell’s Foodservice Away from Home Division
Value-consciousness
One of the biggest influences on foodservice is, of course, the economy. We shouldn’t expect a huge rebound in traffic in 2016, given the softness of the Canadian economy right now. Because of that, operators need to deliver on value. But what’s different today – and what will continue to drive menu development – is how consumers are now defining value. We’re moving from a quantity to quality model, where diners measure value through the craftsmanship of their food rather than the volume on their plate.
– Deborah Bobier, Consumer Insights Manager, Foodservice, KraftHeinz Company
It’s in the broth
In New York City, operators are serving a cup of broth and simply adding a couple of healthy ingredients like cumin. Patrons are then able to walk with it like a cup of coffee. Broth has become an alternative beverage with a healthier edge. In the US, we’re also seeing more broth soups and broth-based sauces. Even curries today are using a broth or stock for a lighter, better-for-you approach.
– Chef Richard Calladonato, Executive Chef with Campbell’s Foodservice Away from Home Division
Don’t be a turkey
Diners have stated that if there were more offerings of turkey, they would buy them. Turkey is the new super food, and it has a lot to offer the health-conscious consumer. Expect to see more deli and whole muscle turkey offerings for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
– Chef James Keppy, National Culinary Manager – Foodservice, Maple Leaf Foods