2010 foodservice trends highlight local, healthy food

12/22/2009 02:34:24 PM
Ashley Bentley

Locally sourced ingredients are expected to be hot in the foodservice sector in 2010, but the hottest of all is local produce.

Locally grown produce tops a list of trends expected to be hot in 2010, according to more than 1,800 professional chefs who voted in a survey from the National Restaurant Association Washington, D.C. The association also reported restaurants with their own gardens are considered the hottest restaurant concept in the coming year.

A foodservice report from consumer, media and market research firm Mintel  ranked restaurant-grown and locally sourced produce as the No. 2 trend for 2010, behind what it calls “classically simple,” old-fashioned, authentic preparations of food.

“In 2010, we expect menus to go back to the basic roots of good food and drink,” said Maria Caranfa, senior analyst for Mintel Menu Insights, in a news release.

Another report, from Technomic Inc. also saw the comfort food trend, and made “New Spin on Old Favorites: Comfort Foods” its top 2010 trend. Its 2010 trend report says to look for increased menu presence of upscale comfort foods, with an explosion of “simple foods.”

For the National Restaurant Association, other top 10 trends include sustainability, nutritious children’s meals, farm-branded ingredients and gluten-free and food allergy-conscious meals.

According to the report, 88% of chefs rated locally grown produce as a hot trend, while only 2% labeled them “yesterday’s news.” Another option on the survey, “perennial favorite,” was chosen by 10%.

“Local produce is the No. 1 trend, as you can see, so veggies are definitely trendy,” said Annika Stensson, director of media relations for the association. “The only thing that seems to be waning in trendiness a little is organics.”

Organic produce was 12th on the list, with 73% of chefs reporting it as a hot trend and 18% calling it yesterday’s news. Stensson said organics sector stagnancy could be related to the economy and their tendency to be priced higher.

Farm- or estate-branded ingredients are also on the rise, according to 75% of the chefs.

“Farm-branded just means that the grower’s name is being used as a brand,” Stensson said. “If you think of wine, it’s often branded with the name of the vineyard or estate where the grapes were grown. This is just a wider concept applied to produce, meats and other ingredients.”

Superfruits, including acai, goji berry and mangosteen, kept a spot on the list, coming in 11th with 73% of chefs reporting them as a top trend. Fruit and vegetable children’s side items are still hot, according to 69% of chefs.

However, other produce items may be losing steam. Closer to the bottom of the 214-item list were potatoes/French fries (16% reporting hot trend), cucumber (19%), watermelon (25%), artichoke (26%), coconut (27%) and avocado (35%). On the other hand, more than half of the chefs consider these ingredients to be perennial favorites, so only a smaller portion consider them yesterday’s news.

“I think the drive behind (fresh produce’s) trendiness is related to overall societal trends like increased interest in nutrition and in sustainability,” Stensson said.

Nutrition and health will continue to be a hot trend in 2010, according to 71% of chefs in the National Restaurant Association survey. According to Mintel, 63% of Americans say it’s difficult to eat healthy at restaurant because there aren’t enough healthy choices.

“2009 saw a trend toward healthier menus, but 2010 will see a sharp increase in good-for-you food and drink,” the Mintel survey reported. “Tomorrow’s healthy menus will feature inherently nutritious items — those with fiber, omega-3, vitamins and antioxidants — that deliver on flavor, too.”

World flavors and ethnic-inspired cuisines should also continue to gain popularity. Technomic reported that foods from Asia, including Korean, Indonesian and other Southeast Asian fare, should be hot, along with ever-popular Mexican and Italian food.

“Cuisines like Mexican, Chinese and Italian have become so mainstream, however, that it’s time to dig deeper,” according to the Mintel report.



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