Foodservice research and consulting firm Technomic has come up with its top 10 below:
1. Whatever, whenever: With many Americans now grazing 24:7 instead of eating three square meals a day, foodservice operators are beginning to reflect this in menus, says Technomic. “The idea of segmented dayparts has faded, and consumers are more apt to purchase an item that fits their needs regardless of daypart or menu part.”
2. Customization: Today’s consumers demand greater control over the dining experience and increasingly want to tailor not just their meal but how it’s delivered. So expect more build-your-own options and flexible menus, and delivery options.
3. Balancing health and indulgence: Expect more healthy and indulgent fare on the same menu or even the same plate (i.e., a side of Greek yogurt with a dessert waffle or a turkey burger topped with onion rings).
4. Upscale - but affordable: Expect more outlets to cater for demands for a more upscale experience at an affordable price.
5. How is it made? Look out for more artisanal products prepared from scratch onsite, from sausage ground on the premises and sodas made in-house to desserts made from scratch.
6. Show me something new: Consumers are looking for unexpected ingredients, mash-ups - so expect more breakfast and dessert flavors across the menu; updated nostalgic desserts; and all-day gourmet burgers and sides with a “wow” factor.
7. Fusing flavors: Look for more sweet and spicy combinations, and other unusual flavor pairings.
8. Some like it hot! Expect spicier dishes across the board.
9. Ethnic goes American: Look out for more regional American flavors and cuisines.
10. Alternative proteins: Offering alternative proteins can appeal to a diet-conscious demographic, and pique consumers’ interest with options they may not find elsewhere.