Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Look Ahead: 2016 Food Trends

by Jim Lannen

Sure, it's fun to reminisce about the year that's passed.  But why not say good riddance to 2015 and take a look at the top food and drink trends predicted for 2016?

Keeping up with the latest trends is important in every industry. And each year, the National Restaurant Association - with the help of industry professionals and chefs - conducts a survey to identify menu trends for the upcoming year.

Top 20 food trends for 2016:

  1. Locally sourced meats and seafood
  2. Chef-driven fast-casual concepts
  3. Locally grown produce
  4. Hyper-local sourcing 
  5. Natural ingredients/minimally processed food
  6. Environmental sustainability
  7. Healthful kids' meals
  8. New cuts of meat 
  9. Sustainable seafood
  10. House-made/artisan ice cream
  11. Ethnic condiments/spices
  12. Authentic ethnic cuisine
  13. Farm/estate branded items
  14. Artisan butchery
  15. Ancient grains 
  16. Ethnic-inspired breakfast items
  17. Fresh/house-made sausage
  18. House-made/artisan pickles
  19. Food waste reduction/management
  20. Street food/food trucks

If you've followed this list in years past, trends like locally sourced meat, produce, seafood and kids' nutrition continue to make the list. In fact, this has remained unchanged since the 2012 predictions. People are focused on nutrition for their children and knowing where and what was involved with the food they consume. A lot of times, that means the freshest ingredients possible.

One trend that interests me in particular involves new cuts of meat. A lot of these I have probably never heard of, so I am excited to see and learn. And I'm sure Chef Chris has several new ideas up his sleeve to bring forth this year.

Menu items that gained momentum since last year’s survey include African flavors, authentic ethnic cuisine, ethnic condiments/spices, house-made/artisan soft drinks, Middle Eastern flavors and non-traditional liquors. Items that fell off trend include underutilized fish, kale salads, fresh beans/peas, gluten-free cuisine, quinoa and flower essence in cocktails.

Keeping up with trends is important to growing and sustaining a business... whether it involves food, drink or even fashion. So here's to keeping up with the Joneses in 2016!

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