Local and organically grown produce will become more popular with diners in 2008, according to a recent survey of chefs conducted by the National Restaurant Association.
Eighty-one percent of respondents to the survey described locally grown produce as a “hot” trend, while only 5% described it as “passé.” Similarly, 75% said organic produce was a hot trend for the coming year, while 16% described it as passé.
The two categories netted second and third place in a list of almost 200 different food and beverage items, cuisines and preparation methods ranked in the NRA's “What's Hot and What's Not” survey. More than 1,280 members of the American Culinary Federation participated.
Bite-size desserts narrowly edged local produce out of the No. 1 spot, with 83% of respondents picking them as a hot trend. Other high-ranking items that may have implications for fresh food departments include specialty sandwiches, which ranked fifth, with 71% describing them as a hot trend; sustainable seafood, which ranked seventh, with “hot” votes from 65% of respondents; and grass-fed items, which ranked eighth, also with a 65% vote.
Restaurant owners experienced a challenging year in 2007, with industrywide traffic growth estimated at 1%, according to recent data from the Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD Group.