Technomic forecasts the Top 10 menu trends of 2016
With 2015 coming to a close, Technomic has identified the 10 trends likely to shape menus next year. Here is what the Chicago researcher has identified as the top influences to expect.
1. The Sriracha Effect
After seeing the cachet that a few drops of Sriracha can bestow even on the humblest and most familiar of items, restaurants will seek ways to use an array of other exotic spices and flavors from a far, such as ghost pepper, sambal and sumac.
2. Peasant food gets repurposed
Menu items such as meatballs, sausages and ethnic dumplings like pierogis and bao will grow in popularity, spawning nontraditional preparations for the U.S. consumer.
3. “Use it all” makes waves
Underutilized protein cuts and “trash” fish will see new life as concepts will get increasingly inventive when repurposing “leftover” ingredients. The strategy will not only keep menus fresh and edgy, but possibly help with food costs as well.
4. Smoke takes center stage
Charred, roasted and smoky flavors will gain steam on all menu parts, finding their way into side dishes, desserts and even cocktails.
5. Bubbles see big wins
Champagne, prosecco and boozy soft drinks will continue to gain favor with customers. Ditto for artisanal sodas and sparkling teas.
6. GMOs are a no-go
Some diners will seek restaurants that avoid GMOs, while others will expect clear alerts if GMOs are part of an item’s ingredients.
7. The supply chain goes modern
Consumer demand for fresh, local options will pose distribution challenges, as will supply issues stemming from climate changes, pathogen outbreaks and growing transit costs.
8. Fast food gets refreshed
Diners will flock to concepts with fresher menus, cleaner restaurants and build-your-own options popularized by the fast-casual segment. The trend will add topspin to so-called QSR Plus concepts—the brands sandwiched between traditional quick-service restaurants and fast-casual upstarts.
9. Employee issues rise to the top
With minimum wages soaring and kitchen staffers in particularly tight supply, concepts will lean on technology to boost efficiency, and could expend more resources on employee retention and training.
10. Phones become the new menus, homes the new dining room
Consumers will find getting meals to go easier than ever, thanks to the increase of mobile ordering-and-payment options and the emergence of even more third-party delivery apps.
Watch the video
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Technomic is a holding of Winsight Media, the parent company of Restaurant Business and RestaurantBusinessOnline.com.