4 unexpected menu trends to expect at Restaurant Trends & Directions

veggie burger

Expect the unexpected—that’s the theme of the menu trends presentation during next month’s Restaurant Trends & Directions conference in Chicago. “The accelerated pace of demographic, cultural, and technological shifts has led to rapidly and continuously evolving consumer needs,” says Kelly Weikel, director of consumer insights at Technomic. “Today’s operators and suppliers must stay on top of emerging trends, offering ever new and exciting menu items and flavors to satisfy today’s consumers.”

The presentation will delve into what the new rules of the menu game look like at restaurants. Standard menu categories—like chicken, vegetables and beverages—are changing with the times. Operators have more competition than ever and in turn are finding new ways to innovate. Here are four teasers to the “Menu-Centric: Exploring Trends in Flavors, Ingredients and Prep Methods” presentation.



Signatures … are switching it up

Operators like McDonald’s that have been in the game for years are now shaking up their signature offerings to maintain their core customer base while drawing younger Gen Zers and millennials to their brands.

Mashups … are menu norms; next up: mock foods

Operators from Taco Bell to California Pizza Kitchen have rolled out mashup items combining various mealparts and dayparts in recent years. The new “wow factor” items are mock foods—vegetables that are menued to look or even taste like meat—and new ingredients growing in the marketplace that are geared toward reworking traditional recipes for vegan and other diets.

Sauces … are operators’ entry into new global cuisines

Sauces allow operators to differentiate and add customization without breaking the bank. And consumers are increasingly asking for more global fare on menus. 1 + 1 = global sauces on the rise. Topics to be covered: Filipino sauces, global relishes and the new olive oil and balsamic.

Plants … are getting as much attention as meat

Vegetables are no longer just an afterthought. Plants are cheaper than meat, can be subbed per season, align with health trends and are being innovatively featured at the center of the plate. Some items on the rise: veggie “steaks,” veggie “wings” and brined, smoked and charred veggies.


The Restaurant Trends & Directions conference brings the top executives from successful emerging chains together for three days of menu development, performance discussions and, most importantly, peer-to-peer networking.

Armed with Technomic research, attendees of Restaurant Trends & Directions are better prepared to tackle challenges, leverage relationships and refine marketing plans. Register now.

 

REGISTER NOW

restaurant trends directions conference

Today's top stories

1
In today’s rigid labor market, restaurant operators have made headlines launching education benefits , referral bonuses , competitive wages and career development programs to attract workers and coax...
2
Like any kitchen tool, a protective glove is only as good as the skills of the person using it. I know chefs who swear by cut-resistant gloves and others who do not allow them in their kitchens,...
3
Although consumers’ moves toward better-for-you menu items continues to influence operators today, fried foods remain universally popular choices for restaurantgoers. With 84.5% of all operators...
4
After boasting for years that America runs on Dunkin’ , the franchise powerhouse is fundamentally changing to keep up. A menu that reverses years of pushing beyond doughnuts will be in place within...
5
A shutdown of all the Joe’s Crab Shacks in Michigan has raised the tally of units closed by bankrupt operator Ignite Restaurant Group to more than 40, from a base of 113 stores, according to internet...
6
The portion of restaurants’ sales coming from delivery could top 40% by 2020, roughly a sevenfold increase from current levels, according to a recent study from Morgan Stanley. Demand for off-premise...
7
As LSRs battle it out at breakfast, they’re pulling no punches when it comes to innovation. Taco Bell’s Naked Breakfast Taco spring LTO used a fried egg as a “shell” to hold diced potatoes, cheese...
8
The Fast staff took a break from putting this issue to bed for our Restaurant Trends & Directions conference . One of the keynoters was Jonah Berger, author of “Contagious” and “Invisible...
9
Whether seasonal, regional or simply unique, limited-time offers are not only a way to test possible new products, but also a great marketing tool to get consumers excited about a brand and in the...
10
In its U.K. home base, Pret A Manger met customers’ calls for more vegan and vegetarian options in a big way—by launching a veggie-only location in London last year. Its success spawned a second veg-...