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2021 Trends Foodservice Consultants Should Consider

Sustainable consumption and healthy eating, along with climate change, are significantly influencing consumer choices.

 More than ever before, people want to know the source of their food, how healthy are its contents, and whether it has been produced, processed, packaged and distributed in a sustainable fashion.

This article from Foodservice Consultants Society International (FCSI) quotes a report by the research firm Datassential indicating the climate crisis and a new generation of plant-based foods will impact our industry in 2020, and these are all trends that foodservice consultants should know.

Sustainable Food

The relevant questions for sustainable food are how much land is required, how much water are we using, and are we using too much energy in the production and processing of our food supplies?

Tastewise, a company that brings the power of AI to analyzing food trends, studied over two billion social interactions, more than three million online recipes, and the largest restaurant menu database available of 274,000 restaurants to conclude that, compared to a year ago, food sustainability is a high priority item for 23 percent more consumers. 

Customers are now placing greater emphasis on sustainable ingredients and resource-light production techniques like hydroponics, recyclable packaging, and the avoidance of plastic. Another notable fact is the emergence of vegetarianism and veganism as mainstream trends. 

Clara Ming Pi of FCSI says, "I am very pleased to say that, finally, the plant-based movement is here!" The adoption of plant-based foods has another motivation driving it: health consciousness.

Healthier Food Choices

It turns out that a meat-based diet is not only resource-intensive but also a contributing factor to health issues like cancer. 

"Our food supplies contribute to one-third of greenhouse gas emissions, and the foods that create the most greenhouse gases are the same foods that are contributing to many of our chronic diseases," Pi said. 

Thirty-nine percent of consumers' conversations about sustainable food also include references to the health benefits of various food choices. Another relevant statistic is that the sale of plant-based food in the U.S. has increased by 8.1 percent over the last year. 

"We see more healthy, sustainable and plant-based dining that tastes appetizing to a wider demographic than ever before," said Melanie Corey-Ferrini, CEO of 3.14DC Design and Consulting, an FCSI associate.

Technology and the Food Chain

The food industry needs to cope with shifts in consumers' preferences. Advances in technology enable production techniques like hydroponics. Technological advances also help the industry cope with the recent trend towards catering and takeout. Restaurant layout, kitchen design, and staff skills have to change to adapt to this emerging trend. 

"Think smart equipment, mobile technology like order/pay apps, and robots for foodservice tasks including delivery,” said Connie Dickson, a principal with FCSI associate member.

Taste Trends

FSCI reports the following shifts in U.S. consumers' taste preferences:

  • Trending regional flavors: Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Latin American.
  • Foreign foods in demand: Mexican Puebla Hot Pot (a chicken dish), Greek Manouri (a goat cheese), Indian Millet (an ancient grain), Tanzanian Mishkaki (marinated meat skewers), and Chinese Jianbing (street-food breakfast crepe)
  • Growing restaurant concepts: Chef-driven fast-casual, Farm-to-table, and Family-friendly
  • Emerging restaurant concepts: Dog-friendly, Upcycling, and Hyper-local
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Restaurant Trend Predictions for 2021

As we venture into the new decade, the market for food is making some pretty drastic changes.

Make sure your New Year's resolutions include more than expanding your menu. From new recipes to the biggest of trends, everyone is looking for ways to improve the customer experience, and here are a few of our predictions to look out for in the New Year.

1. Transparency

People want to know what's in their food, how it's made, and if it's good for them. Throughout 2021, consumers will want restaurants to expand on transparency when it comes to how guests are spending their money. This can mean build-your-own options, front-of-the-house theater kitchens, sourcing listed on menus, and much more. Either way, today’s consumers, especially those Millennials and Gen Zers, are looking for information about what they’re eating.

2. Home-Meal Kits

Those subscription meal kits that have been taking over in 2020 will continue to be all the craze as we embrace 2021. Their easily accessible content can make grocery shopping unnecessary, and they give you the chance to try new recipes without making too much to eat. Consumers love that each kit measures the needed ingredients and allows you to cut back on the preparation time it takes to make a delicious dish. Most of the subscriptions offer organic or meat-free choices, leaning into that healthier diet movement.

3. Green Growth

Healthy eating is the new trend, and it's taking over by storm. More people are growing cautious over the things they put in their bodies, requesting more plant-based meals and actually changing their diets. You can expect green vegetables to be the 2021 craze, as well as a continuation of plant-based meat options. Another perk is that focusing on greens is more eco-friendly and sustainable, which is another draw for younger demographics.

4. Take-Out and Delivery

As technology makes access to delivery easier, it's efficient in allowing consumers to continue their busy schedules without having to sit down in a restaurant to eat. More people are dropping by to pick up orders or simply requesting somebody to deliver them through various apps. Restaurants will be pushed to cater to those consumers more frequently in the upcoming year, and they will need to expand on their menu and carry-out options for those orders that leave their location. This will take thought, foresight, and the equipment and staff to deliver quality.

5. Fermented Drinks 

Kombucha has been flying off the shelves since it appeared on many people's radar due to a meme on social media. Upon discovering it, it's created and remained a trend due to the health benefits that come with drinking it, especially in communities that are more health-conscious to begin with. We anticipate this trend to continue growing, though, even into cities or certain parts of the country that have had limited exposure to soft drink alternatives like kombucha. Here’s to the ‘booch!

6. Strange and Out There

While trends are exciting, more operations are getting bold when it comes to growing their business and gaining attention. The 2021 year will bring more eye-catching menu items and ideas that are a little wild in comparison to the typical plain burger or salad. To make sure these items are crave-worthy, you'll notice they're only offered for a limited time. This is a great play on marketing and pushes hungry customers to want to try the newest item before it's gone forever. 

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How Healthcare Foodservice Leaders Are Responding in 2020

Pressure was placed on healthcare foodservice leaders to develop an unexpected pandemic response plan.

Many have prepared for emergencies like fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, or mass shootings, but a pandemic was not on the list for the near future. Since being prepared is key to any good action plan, a lot of pressure was placed on healthcare foodservice leaders to develop an unexpected pandemic response plan. Nonetheless, they stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park with response plans created to anticipate the worst, respond immediately, and adapt to the inevitable changes to come. Circumstances differ from hospital to hospital due to location and outbreak, but food service leaders are working hard to keep providing food to patients and staff.

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The Importance of Flexibility in Foodservice

Flexibility is a great way to create happy customers, and it's an even better way to increase profits.

All across the landscape of food and beverage, we're seeing certain types of operations go beyond their traditional services as they look for greater potential. C-stores are becoming more like coffee shops. Coffee shops are gaining fast casual characteristics. Fast casual restaurants are taking on more fine-dining type elements. And all across our industry, cross over is becoming commonplace.

Essentially, it's up to operators to think outside the box. How are they doing this? For starters, they're rethinking common conceptions about food and beverage service times and are coming up with some creative alternatives.

Just because an operation thrives as a high-end coffee shop during the day doesn't mean it has to close its doors at night. A serving cart that provides pastries and cereals for breakfast can also double as a dessert bar at night. Omelet stations for brunch can shift out their service to a pasta station at night. That coffee shop we mentioned? What if it doubled as a cocktail bar at night?

The key here is flexibility -- flexibility in thought, flexibility in concept, flexibility in execution, and the flexibility in the equipment it takes to pull it all off.

MENU VERSATILITY

When it comes to flexible serving options, the first thing to consider is the ability to serve multiple types of menu items from the same location. This means a given piece of real estate can be attractive to customers and guests for greater periods of time. This is the ultimate in flexibility and profitability.

MOBILITY

The next step in flexibility is having the ability to take foods and beverages to the guest instead of the guest needing to come to the operator. Mobile serving stations are an easy way to transform the point-of-sale from point-to-point.

USABILITY

The final aspect of flexibility is to find equipment that is known for its usability. How easy is it to transform a serving cart from breakfast service to lunch? Are carts easy to move? How long does it take to clean? What about service and maintenance? The bottom line is flexibility is only implemented by staff members, so equipment needs to be easy to use.

MISE EN PLACE

For the ultimate in flexibility, consider the Lakeside Mise En Place cart.  It easily transitions from a back-of-house helper to a front-of-house money maker.  Explore ideas and get inspired with more information here.

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Top 10 Current Chef-Focused Trends

Each year, the National Restaurant Association conducts a survey to identify the hottest culinary trends.

This year's survey tells us in no uncertain terms that sustainability, hyper-locally sourced foods, plant-based foods, and vegetable-focused dishes are some of the nation's hottest food trends. Below, we've provided the NRA's top-10 list of current chef-focused trends which restaurants are following to meet customer demands for sustainability, nutrition, taste, and personal choice.

1. Cannabis/CBD oil-infused drinks

According to the "What's Hot Culinary Forecast," 77% of the American Culinary Federation chefs placed drinks infused with cannabis or CBD as the top trend. And it's anticipated that this trend will only become more popular in the future as more states legalize cannabis.

2. Cannabis/CBD oil-infused foods

For some time, cannabis-enhanced foods were limited to desserts. Now, however, chefs are experimenting with all sorts of healthy options across the menu, made from cannabis-infused ingredients such as honey, nuts, coffee, and all-natural teas.

3. Zero-waste cooking

Zero-waste cooking ranks as the third top trend overall for 2019. Each day, chefs are finding more ways to use all parts of a food product, particularly plant-based items. As the NRA reports, chefs are now using coffee grounds to flavor ice cream as a way of reducing food waste. They're even using cabbage butts in stir-fries, not letting even the smallest usable portion of a plant-based food go to waste.

4. Globally-inspired breakfast dishes 

Chefs are searching the world in person and on the internet to find inspiration for breakfast dishes. Rice, soup, vegetable-and-bean bowls (like the Hawaiian poke bowl, the traditional Latin American rice and beans, or Asian rice dishes), are becoming popular for breakfast. And not only are they high in nutrition, but they're always carefully prepared and made into a great presentation from to appeal to today's highly visual consumer.

5. Global flavors in kids' meals

Chefs are taking inspiration from spices and flavors from North, West, and East African cuisine, Latin America and Spain, and Asian countries to influence kids' meals. Turmeric, ginger, and Asian spices (particularly Korean and Filipino flavors) are showing up on children's menus.

6. Hyper-local food sources

Chefs are going as far as using plant-based foods that come right from the restaurant's own gardens. When that's not possible, they rely on local farmers' markets and other hyper-local food sources so that the farm-to-table connection is absolutely transparent to today's consumer.

7. New cuts of meat 

New cuts of meat such as shoulder tender, Merlot cut, or oyster-cut steak made the top trending spot for the last two years according to the NRA. These once "secret" cuts are now becoming more common, although the NRA notes that they are starting to drop in popularity this year as plant-based dishes continue to be on the rise.

8. Vegetable-centered dishes

In 2019, chefs don't believe that you have to be vegan or vegetarian to enjoy a good rice and bean dish made with an exquisite mixture of spices and visually appealing fresh vegetables. After trying some of these attractive and tasty vegetable-centric meals, many meat-eating customers will think about eating vegetarian at least a couple of times a week.

9. Fast-casual concepts

Fast-food chains are consulting some of the country's most renown chefs to come up with their hallmark non-meat feature. Burger King's Impossible Burger is one key example. In these carefully crafted dishes, you'll find global spices combined with plant-based foods in the form of veg burgers and salads, or meats prepared in innovative ways.

10. Craft beers, artisan, and locally produced spirits

Craft and artisan alcoholic beverages that are produced locally have been the rage for some time, and continue to be popular in 2019. Chefs frequently have their own favorites, if not their own special house brew.

These are just a few of the new innovations which chefs are making available throughout the food service industry. For more information on macro and micro trends facing the foodservice industry, download our full Trends e-Report.

2019 Foodservice Trends Report CTA

Webinar (30 mins) – “7 Top Trends in C&U Foodservice” by Nancy Lane

Join Nancy Lane for this brief 30 min. mini-webinar (20 mins. with 10 mins Q&A) called "7 Top Trends in C&U Foodservice" where she'll be discussing the top seven trends that will impact college and university foodservice programs in the upcoming year.

7 Trends Include:

  1. Sustainability
  2. Plant-Forward
  3. Labor Efficiencies
  4. Transparency
  5. New Normal
  6. Food Insecurity
  7. Infusing Digital

To register, click the link in the "Details" section below!

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A Closer Look at the Food Hall Trend

A Closer Look at the Food Hall Trend

What are food halls, and why are they important? For starters, let's talk about what they are.

Food halls are kind of like a hybrid between a market and a food court. Designed with both shopping and dining in mind, they're generally more specialty-oriented than a typical supermarket and they offer more fast-casual options as opposed to full-service restaurants.

You've likely seen a food hall in your travels, even if you didn't know it was a food hall. Popularized by modern food hall pioneers like the Chelsea Market and Eataly in New York City, the trend quickly spread from coast to coast.

Technically, though, it began decades ago in places like Harrods of London, the Granville Island Public Market in Vancouver, and the famous Pike Place Market in Seattle. For Bostonians, they can lay claim to the Quincy Market, which has hosted food merchants since 1742.

Today, though, the combination of food and retail are experiencing a rebirth. Not only are malls re-inventing themselves, but according to a report from Jones Lang LaSalle, 40 percent of all consumers will visit a mall-type location based solely on the restaurants located there. Cue the food hall, and call the real estate developers.

"Food halls are not a fad," says a 2018 report by developers Cushman & Wakefield. "Food halls are the sharing economy for restaurants."

In their report, they predicted nearly 200 food halls in operation by the beginning of this year. In real estate-driven places like Boulder, Colorado, for example, restaurants are even turning into food halls. What happens when an enormous, 13,000-square-foot Cheesecake Factory closes in a prime, downtown location? Developers plan to turn it into a food hall.

The bottom line, though, is rooted in philosophy. Yes, people will always need to eat. Yes, people will always need to shop. But what's brilliant about the food hall concept is that it plays on another human need which is one of interaction and experience.

Food halls, in just a few short years, have become a deeply loved and entrenched part of our collective foodservice landscape. Food, after all, is something that brings us together in our daily search for interaction and experience and operators are more numerous in this recognition.

Food halls are an emerging foodservice trend that colleges and universities can't ignore.

There are some immediate advantages with a food hall concept.  With less overhead and built-in foot traffic associated with food halls, colleges and universities can promote a lower barrier of entry when courting outside foodservice entrepreneurs to partner with.  Moreover, students have grown up with "marketplace food halls" and desire this experience on campus too.

Discover 7 other foodservice trends in our free 2019 College and University Foodservice Trends Report.

Lakeside and Multiteria have researched seven other trends that will be important to colleges and universities in the 2019-2020 school year.  Download your free copy today to stay on top of the latest ideas and innovations that will help you maintain a first-class foodservice operation!

 


Attend a brief 30 min. mini-webinar on the "7 Top Trends in C&U Foodservice!"

Join Nancy Lane on Sept. 19th for this quick, jam-packed webinar - 20 mins. content with 10 mins. Q&A.  The seven trends include:

  1. Sustainability
  2. Plant-Forward
  3. Labor Efficiencies
  4. Transparency
  5. New Normal
  6. Food Insecurity
  7. Infusing Digital

Click below and sign up today!

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A Quick Look at Upcoming Flavor Trends

A Quick Look at 2019's Flavor Trends

What flavors are people looking for today? And who are the people looking for them? Let's take a closer look.

Thanks to the great research done by our friends at Foodable Labs, we have data compiled from nearly one million social media conversations between chefs, operators, brands, and influencers.

Based on these conversations, Foodable Labs was able to determine the top flavor profiles and cuisines, and because we love trends so much here at Lakeside, we wanted to break down those flavor trends for you here.

ASIAN FOODS ARE STILL POPULAR.

Over the last few years, we've seen a rise in popularity of Asian foods, especially the foods of Korea and the Philippines. In terms of flavors, options like hoisin sauce, garlic, ginger, and chili sauce are leading the way. And when they looked at menus, Foodable Labs found an increase in these flavors at a rate of 31.3 percent for independent restaurants and 29.5 percent in fast-casual operations.

SPEAKING OF HOT, IT'S HOT.

According to Foodable Labs, the jalapeño has been replaced by the habanero as the most popular pepper, with an increase on menus of more than 20 percent. "Hot" isn't just limited to the Scoville scale. It can also include different types of "heat" such as the type of sinus-clearing burn associated with horseradish, which is also gaining in popularity.

WHAT ABOUT A SWEET TOOTH?

Looking for something sweet? According to the report, we're craving sweets more now than ever. When it comes to true natural flavors, trends lean towards fruits such as mango, passion fruit and avocado (and yes, avocado is a fruit). As far as desserts go, salted caramel led the way, with other popular dishes including chocolate-topped items and anything with hot fudge.

PEOPLE LOVE PLANTS.

Consumers are looking for more plant-based menu options. There was a 23.5 percent increase in plant-based menu consumption in Millennials and a 21.9 percent increase in consumers between the ages of 45 and 55. These are the highest growing menu considerations amongst the main menu sectors.

Foodable Labs' plant-based menu statistics confirm our research as well. As part of our 2019 College and University Foodservice Trends Report, we detailed a consumer shift to plant-based foods out of a desire to reduce traditional meat consumption. Flavor innovations are feeding a rising flexitarian population, and consumers are now more responsible in their eating habits (from both a personal health and environmentally sustainability standpoint) by choosing plant-based proteins.

Lakeside and Multiteria have researched seven top trends that will be important to colleges and universities in the 2019-2020 school year.  Download your free copy today to stay on top of the latest ideas and innovations that will help you maintain a first-class foodservice operation!


Watch a brief 30 min. mini-webinar on the "7 Top Trends in C&U Foodservice!"

Learn from Nancy Lane in this quick, jam-packed webinar - 20 mins. content with 10 mins. Q&A.  The seven trends include:

  1. Sustainability
  2. Plant-Forward
  3. Labor Efficiencies
  4. Transparency
  5. New Normal
  6. Food Insecurity
  7. Infusing Digital

Click below to watch on demand!

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7 Ways Foodservice Operators Can Reduce Food Waste

Seven Ways Foodservice Operators Can Reduce Food Waste

Americans waste a ton of money on food. In fact, estimates show we throw away nearly 30% to 40% of our food supply.

How much does that total? Nearly $160 billion. Imagine if you threw away nearly a third of your money every time you opened up your wallet or pocketbook. It goes to show we don't need documentaries or people like Anthony Bourdain telling us to "use everything, waste nothing," though that certainly doesn't hurt.

The good news is our collective culinary conscious is quickly awakening to the food waste reduction challenge. This trend has been growing steady in recent years, making it onto foodservice trend lists ranging from the National Restaurant Association to foodservice equipment manufacturers.

So if everyone is starting to realize the importance (and profitability) of reducing food waste, what are some of the basic steps foodservice operations can take to make it happen?

RETRAIN OURSELVES

Study after study tells us "sell by" or "use by" dates are subjective and not accurate. Societal training tells us an apple or a tomato with a blemish or bruise isn't worthy of serving or eating. We often tell ourselves something is bad even though that very well might not be the case. If we learn to retrain ourselves with facts and to work with foods that may appear imperfect, we've taken the first step toward reducing food waste.

RETRAIN OUR STAFFS

Like most sustainability practices, training team members to be mindful of food waste can go a long way. Just like you might include shutting off lights in a walk-in as part of a process manual, including best practices for reducing food waste can work too, especially when training includes the cross utilization of ingredients.

TRACK WASTE

You can't reduce food waste unless you know how much you're throwing away in the first place. With food waste audits and data systems, operators can learn baseline key performance indicators that will provide goals for improvement in the future. Even better, the nonprofit ReFED recently issued a report called the Restaurant Food Waste Action Guide which states that tracking and analytics can benefit the restaurant industry by increasing profits by more than $250 million each year.

MANAGE THE ORDERING AND STORING

How is food packaged? Is there a way to break down shipments and store them in smaller, more useable portions? Are the storage facilities operating at optimal capacities? These are all questions that can help operations order the right levels of ingredients and store them in the right conditions. To reduce food waste, make sure production schedules are accurate.

GET CREATIVE

We throw away so many items that can be used in other applications with just a bit of creativity. Let's take the orange, for example. In the front-of-house, a bartender might carve off a twist every now and then to top off the perfect Negroni. The orange itself might go unused and wind up in the trash at the end of the shift. In the back-of-house, the saucier might use fresh oranges as part of a light cream to top that night's special dish, scallops l'orange. The rinds will probably go in the trash at the end of the night. Do you think these two people could use the same orange?

RETHINK THE MENU

There's no doubt about it. Much food waste falls directly on the customers. According to American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and What We Can Do About It), guests leave about 17% of food on their plates on average. By reconsidering portion sizes, offering half orders, or providing greater customization, less food will go in the can and more profit will come to the man.

GIVE BACK

All across America, we have food banks and non-profits that will take unused foods and give them to those in need. After all, if we can prevent 30% of our food from going in the trash, that food needs to wind up in the hands of those who need it the most. For operators, giving back can also bring financial benefits as well as altruistic ones. Many operations can experience donation tax incentives for giving unused food to these types of charities.