Back to basics

Smarter solutions

Innovative food and dining precincts have been springing up around the country mimicking global trends for more convivial hospitality options and for the more effective use of retail spaces.

Evolving food trends that reflect consumer taste preferences and the rise of a more educated/informed public around food in general are dictating the way restaurant and café operators meet the market.

The public are a fickle lot – changing their food likes and dislikes on a whim and seemingly influenced largely by social media when it comes to choosing a place to eat out.

So if you’re looking to tweak or completely change the focus of your hospitality offering, then you could take some direction from international cues.

In the United States, the National Restaurant Association recently surveyed nearly 700 professional chefs — members of the American Culinary Federation — on which food, cuisine, beverages and culinary themes will be hot trends in the food arena for 2018.

Here’s the findings:

• Hyper-local – minimal food miles, menus reflecting seasonality, supporting regional economies

• Chef-driven fast, casual concepts – forget the white starched tablecloths and napkins and think shared plates and platters, street food, gourmet food trucks, daily menus

• Natural ingredients and “clean” menus – less is very much more and not a deep fat fryer in sight

• Food waste reduction – mindful catering with nose-to-tail philosophies, the creative use of all parts of an animal or plant, and quirky ways to use by-products

• Veggie-centric or vegetable-forward cuisine – plant-based menus are everywhere and vegetables are no longer seen as the add-on but are rather the hero ingredient

• Environmental sustainability – again, minimising food miles, using in-season ingredients, minimising waste, small footprint venues, energy efficiencies, environmentally-friendly cleaning products

• Locally sourced meat and seafood – celebrating regional cuisine and produce, buying fresh and eliminating the need for freezing

• Locally sourced produce – again, enabling strong regional economies and knowing the provenance and story behind the food

• Simplicity, back to basics – letting the food speak for itself and cooking mindfully and simply

• Farm, source-branded items – elevating the status of small-volume producers and celebrating the artisan producers

Market research company Mintel has just released its 2018 Global Food and Drink Trends findings after collaborating with expert analysts in more than a dozen countries around the world.

They’ve identified the following emerging practices and consumer preferences to guide those in the food and beverage sector – both from a fast moving consumer (FMCG) goods angle and a dining/hospitality perspective:

• Full disclosure by producers and food providers – listing all ingredients, outlining relevant production processes, and disclosure of supply chains

• Self-fulfilling practices – health and well-being are increasingly at the forefront of consumer food choices and diners care about what they are consuming from a health stance

• Preferential treatment – busy lives lead to consumers seeking easier ways to order and receive food, along with wanting personalised shopping experiences and dedicated retailer apps’ which make the process fast and reliable

• Science fare – smart solutions to challenge and even replace traditional farms and manufacturing/processing factories with scientifically-engineered ingredients and finished products (e.g. fake chicken, test-tube meat)

Smart food and beverage businesses and those active in the hospitality sector have plenty of leads to follow and the ones who adapt and evolve will be the ones that survive in this competitive sector.


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