Supermarkets take note: Whatever neat, unique things chefs do in their restaurants usually end up making their way back to the kitchen table. So, it’s always a good idea to keep track of the trends that are shaping the foodservice side of the business, since shoppers like to take those foods and serving ideas back to their home.
Fortunately, the National Restaurant Association taps its membership every fall and writes up a list of the hottest menu trends for the coming year. For 2010, there are some slight tweaks to last year’s list, but by and large, local sourcing and sustainable foods remain on top.
“The top trends this year — local sourcing, sustainability and nutrition — reflect wider societal trends and consumers’ growing interest in these issues,” said Dawn Sweeney, the NRA’s president and CEO. “Many restaurants are sourcing some of their ingredients locally, and you often see chefs shopping at farmer’s markets to create a host of better-for-you options that today’s diners want.”
Whoa. That’s the same thing today’s shoppers want in the food stores they patronize. What’s going on here? It used to be that chefs were so far ahead — the food equivalent of those haute couture designers who accessorize their runway shows with designs that, to the uninitiated, provoke snorts and laughter — that it would take several years for their choice trends to pierce the retail environment.
Now, it seems to be unfolding simultaneously: Foodservice is retail is foodservice.
It’s not all that surprising. I mean, foodservice has become a much larger component of supermarkets over the past 15 years, and consumers themselves have become much more sophisticated and knowledgeable about food and beverage.
And, overall, you could say that the world itself has speeded up, and all the trends and ideas and favorites have all gotten blurred and mixed together, so that it’s not the venue that matters, but the thing itself. In this case, food.
That said, the chefs have got to like this. As Michael Ty, national president of the ACF, said, the top trends this year are allowing a chord of authenticity to re-emerge and remind chefs why they love what they do.
“This is [what] we did in the past when chefs relied on local markets because we did not have the luxury of today’s transportation system,” he said. “We are going back to our roots and the foundation of our craft that made it more pleasurable.”
What’s nice is that wellness- and green-minded supermarket shoppers are probably saying the same thing.
(Photo credit: National Restaurant Association)