Halloumi on the menu as the high street takes tips from street food operators
Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Vietnamese cuisines are having an increasing influence on menus as restaurants seek to differentiate their offer.
According to the Menu Trends report from Horizons, high street menu chain operators are becoming increasingly eclectic in menu options as they pick up inspiration from street food operations.
Ingredients picked up by the survey include quinoa, which has doubled its appearance on menus since 2014, amaranth and chai seeds, as well as the Vietnamese-inspired open sandwich ‘banh mi' and Middle Eastern flatbread ‘khobez'.
Horizons found quinoa on menus in Nando's, Leon and O'Neills, while Wetherspoon was listing a dish of grilled halloumi, which has risen 54% in menu use year-on-year.
Horizons' analyst Nicola Knight said: "Many of these trends have been picked up and adapted from street vendors and small independent operators, particularly the more innovative, easy-to-eat, hand-held dishes.
"It's clear that operators are working hard to offer customers something new and interesting, often including so-called superfood ingredients which satisfy diners keen to eat healthily."
To that end Horizons has found the use of ethical terminology on menus has risen 10% year on year, while gluten-free descriptions have risen 23% since winter 2014.
However, menus weren't dominated by healthy items. Beef burgers continue to be the most frequently listed item on a menu, up 41% since summer 2014, although their average weight has decreased.
Meanwhile, rib eye and fillet steaks have seen a rise in popularity, but their price has gone up while weight has decreased.
Mediterranean-inspired dishes are on the up too, with kebabs being 50% more likely to be listed on menus compared with last year.
Knight added: "Chain operators have realised that menus have to evolve and keep up with trends. While they need to keep the old favourites on the menu it's also important to offer customers something novel and interesting, something they may not have tried before as well as to cater for those that want to indulge and those that want something more healthy. Today's customer is becoming much more adventurous."
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