Sustainability Tops 2016 Food Trends

It’s December and the time for us to make predictions for hottest food trends in the restaurant business for the coming year, but it may not be an actual food that leads the way in 2016.

Rather, it may be the way restaurants do business that will count the most. Customers are looking beyond the menu and the kitchen to learn more about the food they’re served and how the chef and owner run their operation. As a result, factors such as local sourcing, controlling food waste and environmental sustainability are three hot trends, according to a recent survey by the National Restaurant Association.

That is not to say there won’t be some new menu trends and other operational and marketing ideas coming to the fore. Here are a few of the hot trends to look out for:

1. Tech – The list of new technological ideas to improve the customer experience grows as fast as the speed of the internet: Tablets at the table for placing orders; mobile online ordering and promotions to entice diners; smartphone payment services; automated computer and kiosk terminals that allow customers to order faster while personalizing their meal. Higher labor costs, speed of service and the surging force of Millennial preferences are driving technology to new highs.

2. The Next Kale – Chefs are looking for the next big idea to usurp Kale. Celery root and parsnips are gaining interest; seaweed moves from sushi to soups and salads; sweet and spicy sauces like jalapeno/honey blends used on waffles, pizzas and salads.

3. No Means Yes – The trend toward fewer additives in foods is now a staple of how we eat. The non-GMO movement is still on the rise and will stimulate changes in the produce world. Promoting what ingredients you don’t use is an important trend, showing customers you care about their food choices and dietary needs. Gluten-free foods, such as pizza crusts, were once unheard of and now are a mainstay of restaurant menus going forward.

4. Ethnic Foods – Mexican chilaquiles, tangy Filipino dishes, starchy African-inspired breakfasts, Japanese chips and other snacks are among the growing list of ethnic foods soon to hit mainstream menus. It’s just another sign of the global impact of food and the increased adventurousness of consumers.

5. Sustainable Sweeteners – The obvious movement to sustainability led Sugar Foods to slide_ecoStick1-1320x380develop its ground-breaking ecoStick, which offers all of its sweeteners in a streamlined, power-packed packaging for the tabletop. The GMO-free, gluten-free sweeteners use 50 percent less packaging with a 60 percent smaller carbon footprint. The pink, green, yellow and blue packets will not go away, but ecoStick is perfectly aligned to Americans’ changing lifestyle,

It should be another adventurous dining year! Cheers and Bon Appétit.

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