2016 was a whirlwind of on-the-go snacking, clean label watching, better-for-you branding and millennial menu-innovation mania. No surprise, then, that those in the know forecast flux for the new year.
In its new report, Foodservice Trends 2017, Mintel identifies four key trends that its analysts expect to serve up big changes across the foodservice landscape. As the tastes and preferences of American consumers continue to evolve at a rapid pace, foodservice operators will need to adapt not only from a culinary standpoint, but in the form of operational, sustainability and experiential breakthroughs.
The stakes are high. Technomic forecasts that foodservice will grow at a greater rate than retail in 2017–4.8% to 3.0%–and generate 60% of overall growth in the $1.74 trillion U.S. food industry.1
A Four-Course Feast of Innovation
While labor costs are rising, technological advances are streamlining the dining-out experience to attract and retain customers who crave a balance between quality and convenience. Greater operational efficiency, sustainable business practices, diverse flavor profiles and new culinary experiences lay the groundwork for growth in 2017.
Mintel2 covers all these bases with the following four trends:
- Automated Nation–Foodservice customer service is becoming increasingly automated to provide enhanced convenience and efficiency. From kiosk-only restaurants to chatbots that expedite online reservations to direct-to-your-door drone delivery of your frozen yogurt order, automation is at the heart of innovation.
Quick bites: 82% of consumers consider convenience key to the dining-out experience, while 21% would like more kiosks or touch-screen ordering in restaurants. As the report states: “Consumers, especially the emerging iGeneration and millennials, expect on-demand food ordering, whether on-premise or off.”
- Reduce, Reuse, Upcycle–The problem of food waste has become high profile as its environmental and economic tolls come into sharp focus. As a result, chefs are getting creative with parts of vegetables they might otherwise discard and adopting a nose-to-tail approach to meat. Restaurants are doing their part by repurposing existing foods, streamlining menus and simplifying choices.
Quick bites: 51% of consumers are willing to buy vegetables once considered imperfect.2 Veggies are growing in popularity: “Even traditionally meat-centric concepts have shifted toward vegetables and meat alternatives.”
- Fundamentally Global–Consumer curiosity and a higher degree of exposure to international foods and flavors are driving the rise in globally influenced cuisines and preparation methods, such as fire-grilled or smoked. Age-old cooking techniques, including pickling, fermentation and fire instead of oven heat, are becoming increasingly popular.
Quick bites: 35% of consumers would be interested in trying new menu items that fuse unique flavors or ingredients with familiar fare, while 42% of millennials say they want to see more authentic international restaurants in 2017. “Millennials, in particular, are more likely to eat a variety of international cuisines with their adventurous palates.”
- The Experience Dichotomy – As Americans seek out new experiences, more and more restaurants are merging dining and entertainment. From pop-up restaurants to themed venues to sporting events and music festivals, foodservice is focused increasingly on creating or complementing fun environments that feed consumer demand for entertainment-driven dining excursions.
Quick bites: Over a quarter of U.S. movie theatergoers purchased a full meal at a theater in the past six months, while 34% of millennials hanker for more restaurants inside grocery stores. “The experiential dining trend will only grow and, for restaurants, the opportunity to stand out from the crowd is too good to pass up.”
How do you plan to capitalize on these insights to help ring up more sales as you ring in the new year? What other trends do you see taking hold in 2017? Resolve to share a few juicy tidbits with the Let’s Chat Snacks community below.