Trends in the food industry come and go just as quickly as trends in fashion, and failing to keep up means losing customers. Chefs and restaurateurs are constantly hustling to update their menus, reinvent classic dishes, and adapt to the latest fads and tastes. Already in 2015 we are seeing some big shifts in what people want.
Farm-to-Table: We first started seeing this trend a few years ago, when restaurants started teaming up with local farms to gather the freshest ingredients for their seasonal menus. Consumers associated this with a simple, rustic, and — most of all — green lifestyle. But farm-to-table is fading out as diners move past the novelty of sustainability and start to look for a new kind of luxury.
Food Trucks: In the past five years, gourmet food trucks have swept the nation. Truck operators created the kinds of unique, gourmet dishes that consumers love. However, the trend’s popularity combined with the low startup cost of a truck (compared to a brick-and-mortar restaurant) has resulted in market saturation. And now that even corporate brands like Starbucks and TGI Fridays have their own food trucks, foodies everywhere are losing interest.
Mixology: The mixology trend is associated with unique and imaginative cocktails created by highly trained mixologists. It’s true that great cocktails are always in style, but the concept of mixology is on its way out. Any bartender worth their tequila has avoided the mixologist label because mixology is a trend, while bartenders are here to stay.
Ramen: No longer just the staple food of broke college kids, ramen is fast becoming one of the hottest trends in food. Ramen is well-established trend in major cities like Los Angeles and New York, but now we are seeing ramen shops cropping up all over the country. Cities like Chicago, Philadelphia, and even Buffalo are developing their own takes on the dish, with variations in broth and noodles.
Pickling: Sour is the flavor of 2015. Chefs everywhere are experimenting with pickling and fermenting, borrowing techniques and flavors from food cultures around the world. Look for house-made pickles (and other pickled vegetables), sauerkraut, kimchi, and fermented flavor profiles in a variety of dishes.
Extreme Foods: Restaurateurs these days are not about moderation. Chefs are exploring and pushing concepts as far as they can, resulting in new, unexpected, and over-the-top dishes. Combine that with the millennial consumers who are driving trends — they are thrill-seekers when it comes to food — and we are sure to see a wealth of flavors, textures, and combinations that have been taken to the next level.
How To Stay Current With Your Company?
Everyone in the food business knows the importance of freshness, but this extends beyond fresh ingredients. Fresh ideas are key to success and great food brands are always on the lookout for new inspiration. One way to keep up is to follow popular food blogs.
Another tip is to always stay flexible. If something doesn’t work for your company, change it! Adapting is always on trend, and successful food companies don’t blindly follow the latest fads. For example, the food truck trend is on its way out, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still chefs and restaurants who are using food trucks in new and interesting ways. Sweetness and Delight, for instance, will soon launch a traveling candy truck — not something we’ve seen before. In addition, a food truck is still an effective marketing tool for companies that specialize in street food. So just because something is out isn’t a death sentence. It’s an opportunity be creative and try something new.
It’s impossible for every restaurant to follow every trend down to the letter. Plus consumers don’t want to see the same menu everywhere they go. Draw inspiration from current trends, but make them your own in a way that will help you stand out.
About the author
Laurel Mintz is CEO of Elevate My Brand, a digital marketing and live events firm. Visit www.elevatemybrand.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.