2015 Foodservice Predictions: A Sweet Year Lies Ahead

If 2014 was the year of the oxymoron in foodservice, then 2015 will see a continuing evolution imposed by technology, green practices and ethnic foods.

This past year, we saw kale dominate as the greenest of greens to eat.  On the other hand, there was all of that bacon, so ubiquitous we saw it in everything from multi-layered gourmet sandwiches to exotic candies and desserts. While healthy and sustainable menus became de rigueur, it was also the year of the bigger, better hamburger.  In addition, if you did not have gluten-free items, you were neglecting a huge group of customers who still want to eat pizza, pastries and bread. 

In the world of sweeteners, consumers opted for a rainbow of colors – yellow, blue, pink, green and brown – while foodservice operators either put their own name on the sweet little packets or just let the color and not the brand name do the talking.

Beyond the menu, a world of technological developments powered its way into our dining experience and is assuredly the wave of the future for restaurants who want to stay connected to their customers.

As we head into 2015, here are 10 trends we see making an impact in the front and back of the house: 

  1. Environmental sustainability:  The benefits of natural, local, sustainable, organic, and even the labeling of products manufactured using genetically modified ingredients are a very real and substantial part of the foodservice conversation. How and where you source your ingredients, how your prepare them, how you light your restaurant, energize it and even build it are an integral part of any credible eating establishment and will remain so for years to come.
  2. Transparency: Telling your whole story will be key to holding on to customers and luring in new ones. This is especially true with Millennials aged 18 – 28, who buy products they believe in.  They want to know what sets you apart from your competition but also what you are doing (see No. 1) to make their lives and your community better.  Be sure to update your nutritional information to stay pertinent.
  3. Mobility:  No this does not mean moving around town, but rather tapping into the mobile devices that so many of us use for mobile orderingcommunication.  So, when telling your story, make sure that everyone has access to it via your website and digital platforms (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) that connect you to your customer.
  4. Online ordering – if you have not done so by now, it is time to institute an online ordering system to better serve your highly mobile customers. Speed of service, take-out and convenience matter. Make sure you offer all of the sweetener options so that you can add your customer’s choice to their bag.
  5. Gluten-Free Meals – Yes, gluten-free has become an integral part of our menus. Not to have the option is the leave out a growing number of customers who have made it an integral part of their diet.
  6. Ethnic-Inspired Foods – From the ever-popular Fusion foods off the street foods to classic breakfasts and exotic appetizers, ethnically-inspired menus will make a huge impact on the food scene.
  7. Go East Young Chef – Of all the ethnic foods, those from the largest continent will deliver something new in 2015. Look for a variety of choices inspired by Korea and Vietnam. In particular, upscale spicy ramen noodles and Asian street food will be most apparent.
  8. Stay Local: The push to buy local will continue.  That could mean produce, seafood, even house-purified water and locally crafted beers. The hyper-local sourcing trend adds credibility to your menu while supporting your community.
  9. All Kinds of Veggies – Go beyond kale to collard greens, Brussel sprouts and cauliflower.  Any sort of grilled, steamed or raw rendition of veggies is sure to be a big seller and fit in nicely with your newfound sustainability and ethnic menus.
  10. Fair Practices – Diners care and so should you.  They are looking for restaurants to deal fairly with their employees and offer opportunities for advancement. It follows that farm worker and Fair Trade movements are gaining victories. This is but another part of the need for foodservice operators to be an active and positive member of their community.

The end of the year is always a good time to re-think your strategy and market position. Sugar Foods works to stay on trend and works to be your partner in sweeteners, salad toppers, nuts and croutons. Contact us anytime for ideas. Best wishes for a healthy and happy New Year.

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