As 2014 comes to an end, it’s time to look ahead to the foodservice trends for 2015. Foodservice has changed a lot since Americans first started dining out. Once considered an event that required formal dress and advance planning, eating out is now considered an everyday option that is an easy way to get a meal. Indeed, according to The Hartman Group, 46 percent of consumers find eating out to be the healthiest, tastiest dining option.
Thanks to the rise of social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, food is photographed by customers and shared with the world more than ever before. Food is now an event. Services like Yelp and Urbanspoon are encouraging reviewers to upload photos of their meals, and food blogs give everyday restaurant-goers the ability to affect public opinion with their posts. According to The Hartman Group’s Digital Food Life Report, restaurants are realizing that people eat with their eyes before they eat with their mouths and are taking extra care to serve aesthetically pleasing food. Smartphones and cameras have affected everything from how food is plated to where lights are placed in restaurants.
Thin margins mean restaurants are paring down menu items in favor of a focused menu with lots of customization options. For the first time in years, the number of menu items at restaurants is down three percent, according to Mary Chapman, senior director of product innovation at Technomic. Customers are looking for smaller portion sizes and prefer quality to quantity. While restaurants are scaling down their offerings, they are upping their flavor profiles. Generation Z is coming of age and they are craving more flavors and variety in their foods. This includes fermented foods, smoked foods, Asian foods and foods with a healthy focus.
People are also embracing local foods more than ever before. Consumers are seeking out foods native to their area and products that support their local economy. Specialty and citywide distributors are beginning to capture market share. Technomic’s 2015 Food Trends Report points out this “anti-chain” ethos among customers is prompting national chains to create stores that operate under the same name, but look independent, and are able to respond to local demands in a way traditional chains stereotypically cannot.
Supermarket Guru Phil Lempert notes that in the last 10 years grocery stores have lost 15 percent market share to other venues serving food. In an effort to re-establish relevancy, grocery stores are looking to brand themselves as a lifestyle destination. Full-service restaurants are being built inside grocery stores with Culinary Institute of America-trained chefs offering high-quality, unique, local dishes. Grocery stores are looking to attract customers by offering cooking classes and in-store events. Store samples have also gotten an upgrade with grocery stores offering meal idea samples with recipe cards to make shopping trips easier.
Have you heard of other foodservice trends for 2015? Feel free to share your predictions in the comments section.