The National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) annual survey of American Culinary Federation members shows interest in sustainable food and beverage offerings remains strong. According to the NRA’s annual “What’s Hot” list, the top 10 current concept trends include the following: 1. Hyper-local sourcing (e.g. restaurant gardens, on-site beer brewing, house-made items); 2. Chef-driven fast-casual concepts; 3. Natural ingredients/clean menus; 4. Environmental sustainability; 5. Locally sourced produce; 6. Locally sourced meat and seafood; 7. Food waste reduction; 8. Meal kits (e.g. pre-measured/prepped raw ingredients for home preparation); 9. Simplicity/back to basics; and 10. Nutrition. Among the top 20 food trends this year, Sustainable seafood came in at No. 5.
The NRA surveyed 1,298 American Culinary Federation members in October 2016, asking them to rate 169 items as a “hot trend,” “yesterday’s news,” or “perennial favorite” on menus in 2017.
In a column I wrote a little more than a year ago, I summarized the results of the NRA’s 2015 “What’s Hot” survey. Topping last year’s list of trends: “Locally sourced meats and seafood.” Last year, seven of the top 10 trends had something to do with sustainability and wellness: 3. Locally grown produce; 4. Hyper-local sourcing; 5. Natural ingredients/minimally processed food; 6. Environmental sustainability; 7. Healthful kids’ meals; and 9. Sustainable seafood. Also in the top 20: Food waste reduction/management.
Trend with Staying Power
Last year, when asked which current culinary trend will be the hottest menu trend 10 years from now, 41 percent said “Environmental sustainability,” 21 percent said “Local sourcing,” and 14 percent said “Nutrition.”
The NRA’s findings the last couple of years mirror the results of our first annual Green Lodging Survey which found more than half of respondents growing their own food on-site, three-quarters having a local procurement policy, and more than 60 percent having a sustainable seafood procurement policy.
For complete 2016 “What’s Hot” survey results, additional trends to watch, video and downloadable graphics, visit www.restaurant.org/foodtrends.
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