Thursday, November 14, 2013

Trending: Sour cocktails, 'family values'?

Technomic, a national consulting and research firm for the food industry, predicts the top 10 trends in 2014. Which thrill you? Which disgust you? Which are ... meh?

1. Convince me it’s real: Menus describing local sources, restaurants being "true to place," as in "if the restaurant positions itself as authentically Italian, for instance, it must use ingredients sourced from Italy and/or prepared using authentic Italian methods."

2. Pushing the parameters of proteins: Lots of chicken, more pork, lamb and game, egg and vegetarian alternatives, from mushrooms to beans to soy-based products. (Not sure what's trendy here, but ... it's their contention.)

3. Return of the carbs: Ramen to buckwheat noodles to other-ingredient pastas; rice bowls, flatbreads, waffles!

4. Creamy, cheesy, high-fat goodness: As backlash to healthier eating, more cheese melts "and oddities like doughnut-based sandwiches."

5. Pucker up: Pickled, fermented and sour foods, from kimchi to sour cocktails in reaction to "last year's candy-sweet drinks."

6. Day for night: "Consumers are less likely to eat according to a three-square-meals schedule; they nosh, skip meals, eat breakfast for dinner and vice versa." So restaurants are doing innovative breakfast items and serving them all day, etc.

7. Every daypart is a snack daypart: "The snacking lifestyle goes mainstream" so customers look for snack-size handhelds, car-friendly packaging, sharing dishes and flights.

8. On tap: Tap technology for cold-brewed coffee, sodas, wines and more.

9. For fast service, bring your own device: Ordering in advance and in the restaurant using your mobile device.

10. Everything is political: "Consciously or unconsciously, (customers) will gravitate to concepts that share their worldview, and some restaurants will promote this cultural identification."