New year, new menu? Lucy Pedrick, insights manager at Bidvest Foodservice, explains how operators can stay ahead of the curve
The new year brings the perfect opportunity to review and revitalise menus for spring and summer. Bidvest Foodservice has worked with its insight partners to identify emerging themes for 2017. It has spoken with customers and consumers, reviewed research and reports, interviewed industry experts and attended events to gain a comprehensive picture. So what are this year's top trends?
The idea of ‘backing British' is growing in a post-Brexit world. Over half (58%) of shoppers are influenced by the Red Tractor logo when deciding what food to buy. This means more consumers will be seeking out regional British products that offer heritage, authenticity and provenance.
Ingredients are coming under further scrutiny as consumers consider how they live and buy food. Good quality, regional and seasonal produce is not only reassuringly transparent but also reflects a focus on healthier eating.
In 2017, we predict a movement towards everything American - from South American and Mexican cuisines through to Caribbean and Hawaiian. There will be interest in authentic flavours, cooking techniques such as smoking and barbecuing, and regional combinations such as tacos and meal kits.
Feeding into this is grab and go food - immediately accessible, tasty food that allows for a 'better me' wherever we are (such as breakfast in pots or bottles). This also includes delivery options, which recognises the boom in the home delivery industry, borne out of social behaviour and evolving technology.
This year is also all about the Far East. Some 40% of consumers we spoke to were interested in broadening their palate to include Japanese food, and traditional Oriental flavours are set to expand to include Korean and other Asian food.
Street eats are central to this trend, including kiosks and pop-ups of interesting and exotic global flavours. Flavour fusions, new cuisines and innovative formats at reasonable prices will all have a big role to play in 2017.
A diverse and cosmopolitan society has resulted in consumers demanding wider variety. The impact of globalisation on food-service means consumers are much more keen to access international cuisines.
How do trends emerge?
Food trends emerge from social behaviour, social media and demographic makeup, all of which are driving and inspiring consumer decisions about what and where they eat.
Travelling consumers and adventurous millennials get a taste for new cuisines and ways of cooking and eating and endeavour to recreate this knowledge at home. It's a full circle process as new products and innovation on menus drives demand, which in turn influences menu content.
How do these trends fit into menus?
Across the three main trends there's an opportunity to blend ideas to meet a range of consumer needs. Flavours, behaviours and demands can be adapted across menus in many different ways.
The key is understanding where the trends cross over. This means finding the right ingredients, products and menus that challenge the curiosity and taste buds of customers.
It's all about differentiating your menu so that you stand out in a crowded market and tune into those trends that really drive consumer choice at just the right moment in time.
Sub-trends for 2017
Better me - health with stealth - understanding what's good for us.
Bowl and beyond - exploring not just the food content but the food container too. For example, salad bowls, one-pot dishes, smoothies and juices using durable, re-useable materials.
Raw and simple - back to basics with scratch cooking and 'home grown' concepts.
Grab and go - immediately accessible, tasty food that allows for a 'better me' wherever we are (eg breakfast in bottles). This also includes delivery options.
Street eats - kiosks and pop-ups of exotic global flavours in innovative formats at reasonable prices.
Bidvest Foodservice's 2017 trend guide is available at www.bidvest.co.uk