What’s Hot & What’s Not: Food Trends 2015

The restaurant industry blogosphere will be in overdrive this month with news blogs touting the top food trend topics to look for in 2015.

Yes, as our title suggests, as food and beverage consultants we think it’s important to talk about trends, as they are an important element of our business. We are shaking things up a bit from the typical trend list though by speaking to recent trends we think will fall out of favor this year and what we’d LOVE to see take flight in ’15:

What’s Hot: Food Trends to look for this year.

  • GMO’s will remain in the news, as there is still so much light to be shed and information to be learned about this significant restaurant industry topic. The topic is complex, requiring detailed definitions (i.e. if an apple orchard uses grafting or splicing techniques, is that creating a GMO?) so that it’s clear what is being discussed. Legislative bodies at the state and local level will begin to get involved in the debate, which will force the topic to the federal level.
  • Juicing. As “hyper-local” food and wellness trends grow, we predict that juicing and juice bars will make their mark this year. Juicing will continue to gain popularity in homes, and therefore restaurants will explore adding real juices as stand-alone juice bars show resiliency with their popularity. Offering guests what they crave, in the freshest form possible, will be the driving force of this trend.
  • Reducing Food Waste. A crucial food trend topic as wholesale food costs are projected to rise this year and operators look for realistic and more effective ways to manage food inventory, purchasing, portion control, and yield to cut food costs and reduce food waste before it happens.
  • In-house Butchers, Locally Sourced Meat, New Creative Cuts. We see these trends factoring into meat sections of menus this year as options for operators, as more information and supply becomes available that allow for innovative ways to thrill the guest, improve margins, and use a lens of sustainability as it relates to using more of the “whole animal.”
  • Global Flavors. As American palates become more sophisticated, and global trade and flavors are further explored, spicing up your menus with interesting, innovative international tastes is a great way to not only get creative, but wow guests while introducing them to new flavors and preparations. Indian and Korean flavors will continue to grow rapidly in major cities and begin to gain traction as they poise for national growth.

What’s Not: Our Predictions for Trends Falling out of Favor in ’15.

  • Gluten Free (& other dietary concerns). The fad-followers will start to move onto something else, as it becomes apparent that there is a clear difference between those with Celiac Disease and those jumping on the bandwagon searching for the next wellness impact. Remember the “no carb” fad? As a disease, Celiac currently afflicts less than one percent of the population so the data is clear that while this group is extremely important and these customers must be cared for, as the fad-followers move onto whatever is next, this topic will move off the front page. On the contrary, we’ve witnessed an increase in U.S. restaurant operator’s response to guest’s dietary requests and preferences ranging from gluten free to vegan to vegetarian by the addition of delicious vegetable, tofu, and fish-centric dishes to menus; this responsiveness is fantastic and will continue.
  • Menu Labeling. The cries of “this will kill restaurants” will begin to fade away as calorie labeling becomes the norm. Restaurants will adjust recipes and remove the crazy caloric offenders or the hidden calorie surprises, as they should, and all stakeholders will be better for it. Just like smoking bans, the naysayers will be proven wrong and the supporters proven right. The labeling trends relating to legislation and disclosure will continue to be a hot topic as the public gets fed up with learning about the toxic ingredients hidden in the industrial food supply; and clearly without additional regulations, food manufacturers will raise their own standards.

Our Wish List.

  • Sell the Dish… Not the Fish. By this we mean for chefs to steer away from traditional (and overfished or unsustainably farmed) fish & seafood choices such as shrimp, cod, salmon, and tuna, but instead explore serving tasty, inspired preparations of more abundant selections or invasive species such as lionfish or carp. We wish for this trend because it would be a big step in giving our oceans a chance to avoid destruction.
  • Fermentation. From kefir waters (fruit-water blends) to tangy shrubs (fruit-vinegar blends) to kombucha (tea/sugar-bacteria/yeast colony blend), fermented beverages are poised to flourish in ’15. So, take your high school science lab experience to the next level by introducing fermented beverages on your beverage menu. Bonus: use seasonal fruits and blended vinegars to create unique flavors.
  • Packaging Toxicity. We are hoping for more awareness of the chemicals in the packaging that transports our foods. What good is a local, organically farmed tomato if it is transported in a box lined with phthalates?

images*photo credit: wholenaturallife.com