What's ahead for the Canadian foodservice industry? Leading food research and consulting firm Technomic sees these transformative food and restaurant trends playing a key role in the coming year:
We know that consumers today want variety and customization when dining out. But there's a separate and developing movement towards simple, hassle-free dining. A growing crop of restaurants with minimalist menu listings will sprout up to service those occasions. Expect more restaurants to streamline overloaded assembly lines and de-bloat their menu boards to focus in on just a few easy-to-order, well-executed dishes.
Many operators find themselves challenged by the distinct preferences of Millennials and Baby Boomers, both of which possess huge spending power yet seek different dining experiences. To simultaneously delight both age demographics, restaurants will address the health and wellness needs of Boomers while ramping up social responsibility practices to attract Millennials. Balancing a strong value proposition for Boomers with authenticity and customizability for Millennials will also help operators be more inclusive of all ages.
Modern dining halls, pop-ups, food trucks—consumers have explored them all as part of a larger shift away from traditional, fixed restaurant formats. Now, supermarkets and convenience stores are the next foodservice frontier. As today's retailers up the ante on fresh prepared foods, restaurants face a new competitive threat from an emerging segment that is ripe for growth.
Tea is having its coffee moment as concepts create more unique, epicurean tea-drinking experiences. Consumers thirsty for an education in tea will be pleased to see concepts spotlighting the beverage in new and interesting ways through precise tea-brewing practices, tea-and-food pairings and handcrafted flavor assortments. Look for menus steeped in a variety of specialty, premium tea blends.
Think less about the ambiguous term "craft beer" and more about emerging craft styles, serving ideas and kitchen uses. Hoppy brews will continue to dominate, but expect more sours, saisons, spiced-up stouts and lower-alcohol "session" beers. Tap takeovers, creative beer flights and cask events will create excitement at bars and restaurants. And beer's budding culinary influence will result in more sudsy desserts, infused sauces and pairing suggestions.