food trend

Restaurant and Food Trends To Expect In 2016

New Year, New Restaurant Industry and Food Trends

Another year has arrived for the restaurant industry! All-day breakfast, smoked foods, uniquely styled dinnerware and tips were some of the top discussed trends last year.

So what’s stirring around for 2016?

burned food trend

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Charred and Burned Dishes

Yep, you heard that food trend right: Burned. According to HNGN, restaurants are offering burnt and charred options to their menu.

With this trend on the rise, butane torch sales have increased from restaurants after expanding this technique beyond crème brulee and now for vegetables and even cocktails.

“People apparently want some charring on their dishes to lend authenticity and freshness,” they said. “It also brings a ‘smoky, complex and assertively bitter note’ to some traditional food and balances the sugar in drinks.”

Menu Price Increases

The cost for consumers to dine out is predicted to rise in 2016. It may partially be because of minimum wage changes and weakening traffic in certain segments. The increase may also be because customers are willing to pay a premium price for what they want. According to The Fiscal Times, the cost to eat at a restaurant has grown five times faster than inflation.

“The cost of meals at quick service restaurants is up 2.7 percent this year, while the prices of full-service restaurant dining rose 2.4 percent,” they said. “The cost of meals at cafeterias (included workplaces and schools) grew the fastest at 4.9 percent, the CPI (Consumer Price Index) figures show.”

seaweed food trend

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Being called “the new kale,” seaweed appears to be a popular food trend to hit menus. This low calorie superfood provides health benefits thanks to their rich source of nutrients (vitamin K, calcium and iron).

Yahoo Food reports this food trend came about because of its sustainability angle and appeal.

“And if that weren’t enough, consumers may be soon munching away on a new strain of bacon-flavored seaweed for breakfast,” they said.

Wondering where you may find seaweed? Many eat seaweed in soups, salads, sandwiches and more.

Easier Access for Food Delivery

Back in the day, people had their favorite pizza place or Chinese restaurant menu hanging on their refrigerator door or tucked away in the junk drawer. Then, when in the mood for some pizza or takeout, they called in their order and voilà: Food was delivered. However, the times they are a-changin’.

Food delivery is on the brink of an overhaul that could be a real game changer for the restaurant industry. Customers want to have all of their local favorites delivered to their work or home, and services such as Eat24, PostMates and GrubHub are making that happen.

It’s happening in other segments as well, supermarkets especially, through services such as Amazon Prime, Peapod, Green Bean Delivery and Instacart.

food trends

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Alternate Foods

Many chefs will be swapping out their traditional ingredients in 2016. Perhaps this food trend is accommodating consumer dietary needs or they are just experimenting with different foods.

Regardless, when chefs once may have used milk, they may now be testing out almond or rice milk–so on, and so on, according to QSR Web.

This food trend may be music to many people’s ears who have a food allergy, intolerance or are have changed their eating habits.

“In 2014, one-third of adults tried a specialty regiment,” said IFT. “Eight percent tried gluten-free, seven percent lactose-free, 6 percent raw/living foods, five percent dairy free and 5 percent a juice cleanse.”

Smaller Portions

Portion sizes have been a discussed food trend for years, mostly because they have been so large. These days you can go out to a restaurant and almost expect to be able to take half of it home. Due to customer demands, the portion sizes may be getting smaller and smaller in 2016.

Brian Mosko of the Bacon Boys Food Truck in Las Vegas, Nevada, has seen an increase in demand for smaller portion sizes and more localized ingredients.

“The smaller portion sizes are also what we are focusing on in 2016,”he said. “It’s a great way for them to try a sampler of everything, but it’s also easier for them to justify something that might not be so healthy for a small indulgence.”

local food trends

Photo credit: Viktor Hanacek via Pic Jumbo

Local Ingredients

Mosko also noted the local and farm-to-fresh food trend is on the rise. Perhaps this isn’t “new” news, but will definitely gain more ground in 2016.

By keeping ingredients local, foods will be more fresh for guests, can provide cost savings and are overall great for the community.

To take it a step further, hyperlocal sourcing and urban gardens are on the rise as well, with more and more restaurants growing their own fruits and vegetables.

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