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Foodservice Trends and Predictions for 2012

Last December we put together a list of 10 foodservice trends for 2011.  Some that topped the list and stayed strong were food trucks, social media, better nutrition and mobile ordering.

For 2012, there’s much being talked about.  Several blogs, lists and articles are surfacing with upcoming trends and there’s so much great information available.  So this year, not only will you get a list from us, but each one on the list will include a link for more information so you take a look at all of the trends yourself.  Enjoy!

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Handing Over the Control

Today’s world is very particular, especially when it comes to food.  Fast Casual reports 2012 will be the year customers gain more control over their dining experience.  They mention custom ordering systems will aid with this—which is what we’ve seen all year.  From tablets to smartphone apps, restaurants are certainly headed in the customizable direction.  One concern earlier this year with the mobile devices was if they would take away from customer service.  When we attended the NRA show in May, we learned tablets won’t take away from customer service, but in fact enhance the experience as the wait staff will have more time to focus on customers. Read Fast Casual’s full trends list here.

The Best of Both Worlds

Some customers want healthier menu items while others just want something that tastes really good and aren’t too concerned with nutritional value.  For 2012, restaurants will start catering to both types of customers.  Many sites including QSR Magazine call this trend the “Double-Sided Menu.”  The double-sided menu will give customers the best of both worlds—healthy options and not-so-healthy options.  Read QSR’s top five trends here. 

Southern Foods

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During tougher times, people turn to what makes them feel good, comfortable and safe–which in many cases, is food.  According to Monkey Dish’s trend list, southern comfort foods will become more popular.  Chefs will be making favorites such as grits, chicken and dumplings or smokehouse barbeque.  They may even put their own spin on the recipes too.  Read Monkey Dish’s full article here, and check out all of their 2012 predictions here.



 Healthier Kid’s Meals

Restaurants and QSRs all over the country have been upgrading their kid’s menus to be healthier; so this is definitely not something that’s brand new.  But according to another QSR article, healthier meals for children will be on the agenda.  This will tie in extremely well with First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” to help curb childhood obesity.  Read more trends from QSR here.

Plate Shapes

At Central, one of the trends we’ve seen in restaurants is an interest in unique or customizable shapes for dinnerware.  It looks like these unique shapes will continue in 2012, but in a different way.  In an article by SmartBlog on Restaurants, they reveal chefs will be changing their food presentations to be more spread out as opposed to high.  This would make a change for a higher demand of square plates instead of round.  And as a side note on ordering plates, if you do a custom order—make sure to order extras to avoid any trouble in the future if the vendor is no longer able to provide you with your custom dinnerware. Read SmartBlog on Restaurant’s full blog here.

Social Media for Small Businesses

This trend seems familiar from last year, doesn’t it? It was on the list, but it’s different for 2012.  According to Duct Tape Marketing, they predict social media will impact smaller businesses.  This stems from their statement that social networks will move in the direction of being their own marketplaces.  So far, sites like Facebook and Twitter have made restaurants successful with spreading the word about themselves and connecting with fans—so now is the time for the smaller places to get on board and take advantage of this free advertising.  (If you need help, check out our tutorials for Facebook and Twitter).  Read all of Duct Tape Marketing’s small business predictions here.

24/7 Breakfast

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Looking to bakery trends, Modern Baking says several bakery cafes keep breakfast on the menu all day.  With this in demand, many other bakeries and restaurants may follow suit and also provide breakfast items throughout the day.  Read all of Modern Baking’s bakery trends here.




According to the National Restaurant Association’s list of food trends, one that tops the list is going local.  This could be anything from meat to alcoholic beverages. Going local is a great way to support your community and to also know where food is coming from.  Luke Patterson, owner of Luke’s Joint and a few other establishments in Arcata, Calif. is one of Central’s customers who buys local—and it’s been very successful.  Read about his experience here and read more from the NRA’s trends list here.

The Signature Item

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Whopper. Big Mac. Soup and Salad. Bloomin’ Onion.  We didn’t mention restaurant names yet you most likely know where each of these items comes from.  In a recent Nation’s Restaurant News article, they interviewed Galletta Oliver of Ink Foundry who said the importance of the “signature item” will increase.  That being said, restaurants will create or promote menu items that will make customers choose their restaurant over another.  Read all of NRN’s predictions here.

With these predictions just being a handful of many, it looks as though 2012 will be a busy year for the foodservice industry.  We look forward to seeing how these predictions go and we’ll be sure to follow them throughout the year and keep you posted on how they are doing.

Central wishes you and yours a very happy New Year.  We look forward to a great 2012 for everyone!

Central’s Week in Brief: October 7, 2011

Every Friday Central brings you stories from the week that you might have missed, but that are definitely worth a look. We’ll feature food news covering everything from the weird to the wonderful in the world of restaurants, schools, the military and more.  It’s our way to help you go into the weekend with a little extra knowledge and maybe even a project or recipe to try out!


1)      Sadly, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs passed away on Wednesday, at age 56, after fighting pancreatic cancer since 2004.   And while you might not typically associate Jobs with food (other than an apple), it seems that his influence has reached the dining world more than we may have realized.   In an article on the Miami New Times website, it’s made apparent that Jobs shaped the way we all find and discuss food.  The article sites everything from the growing popularity of using the iPad to order in restaurants to the many apps like OpenTable and Urbanspoon that are now always on-hand thanks to devices like the iPhone.  Along with these helpful items, Jobs also had a huge part in ensuring a healthy diet for his Apple employees, setting a precedent with an on-site cafeteria that provides everything from freshly made sushi to vegan fare (check out this cafeteria review from Mac|life for more on the offerings). 


2)      Michelle Obama had made her Let’s Move! Campaign even more interactive by using Twitter to personally speak with followers of the @LetsMove Twitter account.  Eighteen followers were invited to the Washington, D.C. this week for the White House Tweetup, a chance to view the harvesting of the kitchen garden, meet White House chefs and even chat with Mrs. Obama about the campaign and the fight to end childhood obesity.  And for those not lucky to be one of the eighteen chosen there was also an opportunity to post questions for the First Lady about the program using the #AskMichelle hash tag.


3)      A new machine could put an end to all of the foodborne illnesses that have seemed to run rampant over the past few months (including the current Listeria outbreak in cantaloupes).  According to a press release, “The ?Screen is a portable, rapid pathogen screener that could allow screening of up to 100% of food produced in processing plants, before it is delivered to the consumer.”   This groundbreaking invention, created by a group of students from Yale’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, just won the grand prize of $20,000 (to be put towards getting the product to the market) in the “Create the Future” Design contest.


4)      Betty Crocker has caught on to the rise in gluten sensitivities and allergies and is partnering with the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Center for Celiac Research, The University of Chicago’s Celiac Disease Center and the Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition to hold the Baker’s Challenge Gluten Free Recipe Contest. While the submission time has passed, voting will continue until October 15 when a $5,000 Grand Prize Winner will be chosen.  For more information on living gluten free, be sure to check out this post on the dietary restriction.


5)      And speaking of gluten free eating, Central had the chance this week to interview the infamous Mrs. Q of Fed Up With Lunch about her own gluten free lifestyle as well as her thoughts on schools going gluten free.   This week was a big one for Mrs. Q or as she can now be known Sarah Wu (and not just because of her interview with us).   Wednesday morning, after blogging anonymously for almost two years about her perspectives on the state of school lunch, the Chicago public school speech pathologist came out into the open to promote the release of her book “Fed up with Lunch: How One Anonymous Teacher Revealed the Truth about School Lunches – And How We Can Change Them”.  Check out her experience in this video from ABC News.

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