Food & Restaurant Trends Hot From Technomic 2017

Food & Restaurant Trends Hot From Technomic 2017

Food & Restaurant Trends Hot From Technomic 2017 1440 428 Kathy Fiorenza

Recently Technomic hosted their 16th Annual Restaurant Trends & Directions Conference in Chicago, and there was a lot to cover as restaurants are looking for market indicators, hot growth opportunities, and a recipe for future success. From small chain growth to food innovations and dining expectations here are some of the hot topics trending in the restaurant industry.

Small is Big

Fewer chains overall are seeing growth compared to last year, but smaller chains—both limited and full service—have been outperforming larger chains. Emerging chains and local, independent restaurants offering unique experiences and innovative food and beverages are staying competitive, even when prepared foods are seemingly everywhere. Those that specialize in regional cuisines, or focus on a single daypart like breakfast or lunch only, are also resonating with customers’ needs as well.

Of the top concerns of operators, half revolve around labor and the workforce—the rising cost of labor as well as hiring and retaining qualified employees. Technomic forecasts a modest 0.2% growth in revenue in the restaurant industry in 2018 in both limited and full service categories. Delivery as well as labor savings solutions are being considered key drivers of future revenue growth.

The New Millennials

Millennials are not just young singles in the mid-20’s and 30’s anymore. They’re growing up, having families and getting more established in their careers. In fact, 80% will be parents by 2026. In fact, Millennials with children order more restaurant food per week than single Millennials as well the general population, including restaurant delivery and delivery-only restaurants. Expectations continue to rise for convenience, quality, service, and innovation. “New foodies” have evolved their definition of healthy to include eating healthy, indulging occasionally, and being active. They’re seeking better ingredients and food free of additives, which requires transparency on the part of restaurants.

A Shift to Snacking

As people continue to lead busier lives, there’s a shift happening in norms around mealtimes. There’s been a blurring of dayparts and food industry segments, and now we’re seeing the rise of ‘second breakfast’ as a real thing. Reportedly 83% of consumers snack daily and almost half of consumers say what they snack on has changed – mainly, people are snacking healthier. The demand for portability and higher quality options has significantly led to innovation in the healthy snacks category. Foodservice has become the anytime, all the time, pastime.

New Flavors, Ingredients, and Preparations

Signature dishes and comfort foods that deliver a surprising twist while delivering on quality resonate strongly with Millennials. Downsizing or ‘snackified’ entrees satisfy the need to snack with the ability to try new ethnic flavors in reduced portion sizes. Similarly, sauces are the entry point to encouraging consumers to explore new global cuisines and flavors.

New ingredient introductions allow for flavor swaps in both food and beverage innovation—like saba instead of balsamic. Plants and vegetables continue to take more ‘share of plate’ with sophisticated preparations replacing proteins like salmon, ground beef and even dairy and eggs.

When it comes to beverages, the growth in this category revolves around a transformation of flavors and ingredients. Top trends include toasted, smoked, and spiced flavors infused in drinks and garnishes, as well as water-based drinks that incorporate ingredients like honey, maple and coconut that provide added health benefits.

Now, Please

The rising need for food-on-demand is being met by savvy concepts that recognize this trend is not going away anytime soon. Advances in digital ordering and operational throughput that increase accuracy and speed can be a real differentiator in this competitive environment. The path to delivery nirvana is being forged continuously, and it is inevitable that technology will play a major role for restaurants in the future to meet the needs of customers for fast, high-quality and innovative food and beverage, delivered anywhere, anytime.

To sum it up, the future of restaurants looks like this: ‘smart,’ inventive, personalized, available anywhere, fulfilling on multiple levels, and hyper-connected.

Want to hear more about what’s heating up in the restaurant industry? Check out our latest restaurant report, “Reviving the Relevance of Restaurant Brands.”

Kathy Fiorenza

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Kathy Fiorenza

Armed with a desire to exceed expectations of CG’s food-focused clients, Kathy brings her vast knowledge of restaurant operations and account management to every project engagement.  You can read more posts from Kathy here >

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