With less than a week to go in this (insert adjective or expletive of choice) year, 2017 is officially making its way up the street; we can practically see it from here. As serious eaters and drinkers know, now is the time—with one year coming to a close and another poised to begin—when people tend to look ahead to what trends the future may hold for them. UK-based catering equipment specialist Nisbets conducted a recent survey of over 1,300 restaurants and catering companies to pick expert brains regarding what food trends are making inroads at present, and what we might look forward to in the New Year.
The survey examined food trends affecting the market at present, as well as ones that are developing throughout the country. 18% of respondents claimed a background in the restaurant industry, with 17% employed in the café field and 15% working in a bar or pub. The remainder of survey participants make their livings via catering, hospitality, and fast food/takeaway businesses, in addition to public sector employment. When the question “What evolving food/industry trends are impacting your company?” was asked, the following five factors topped the list of key industry trends:
Gluten-free diets and food allergies (13% of answers)
Whether due to concern for a diner’s food allergy/intolerance or for eating habits rooted in culture or faith, restrictive diet-conscious products and restaurant menu options are swelling. With such accommodations growing to be more standard than exception, it is predicted that in 2017 some companies and establishments will seize the opportunity that this change presents to produce new, relevant offerings in order to compete in a new and expanding market.
Health food and healthy alternatives (8% of answers)
Restaurateurs and caterers agree that here is yet another opportunity to expand their influence. With customer concerns over factors like salt, trans fat, and sugar intake having grown more and more popular, some respondents are seeing 2017 as a good time to introduce more “healthy” options to their product bases and menus. One particular area likely to see increased inclinations toward adding healthier options will be foods served in schools.
Local products and food quality (8% of answers)
Perhaps more than ever before, consumers are exhibiting heightened interest in knowing where their foods are coming from. This doesn’t end with locally-sourced ingredients, but extends to more and more expectation of food products that originate from sources that are “organic”, “sustainable”, and “cruelty-free” or “ethically-farmed”. Many respondents believe this is unlikely to diminish in 2017.
Vegetarianism and veganism (5% of answers)
Thought to be driven as much by growing consumer awareness of the health benefits of a plant-based diet as by principle, veganism and vegetarianism are considered to be key industry trends going into 2017. Industries already providing healthy food options stand to gain much from a more health-conscious society grown weary with “fast food culture.”
Street food (5% of answers)
Surprising no one, street food’s popularity is likely to endure into 2017. Some respondents claim that its mounting prevalence has resulted in greater competition for customer attention, while others suggested its existence has made customers more adventurous about trying new and unfamiliar products.
We doubt we’ll be the only ones watching to see what develops in the new year.If these trend predictions hold, 2017 looks to be the year of eating with a keener sense of personal responsibility, both in terms of health and social awareness.