Menu & Food Trends 2014 categorises food trends in ‘mega’, ‘established’, ‘emerging, ‘hot’ and ‘short-lived’, adding that the number of trends governing the evolution of foodservice is increasing due to a growing food culture and a globalising marketplace.
Mega, or long-established trends include healthier eating – despite only 36 per cent of venues surveyed providing calorie information on menus – indulgence, informality, premiumisation, provenance and value.
Established trends include authenticity, breakfast, ‘chickenisation’ – 31 per cent of all mains are chicken-based – customisation, gluten-free – highlighted on 20 per cent of menus – organic, responsible sourcing, sharing and vegetarian.
Allegra Foodservice research analyst Peter Linden said: “Chicken has enduring appeal across religious and ethnic divides, and is cheaper than beef. Chicken is followed on menus by beef and vegetarian dishes, at 22 per cent and 18 per cent.”
In emerging trends, all-you-can-eat, all-day dining, artisan coffee and craft beer took the forefront.
Hot trends, which may grow into emerging and eventually established trends, include barbecue and smoking, innovative soft drinks, new fast food, single/specialised concepts and street food.
Among short-lived trends, bubble tea, gourmet hot dogs and juice bars are not expected to last.
The report also points to the need for menus to evolve with key trends while retaining the essence of the brand, which requires increasingly complex skills.
Rise of small plates
While 100 per cent of pub restaurant brands follow the classic menu segmentation structure of starters, main courses and desserts, only 76 per cent of casual dining restaurants still operate on that model.
Allegra expects this decline to continue, with the rise of smaller plates and sharing platters potentially creating a shift in menu composition in the next five years.
According to Allegra, the trends that are most likely to influence menus in the future are ‘premiumised informality’, ‘responsible consumption’, ‘inspirational adventurism’, ‘trusted value’ and ‘conscious pragmatism’.
Other key developments include the rise of open-plan kitchens.
“The industry will see evolving cooking techniques adding greater value to menus, and that open-plan kitchens, especially at indoor and outdoor barbecue concepts, will expand as theatre becomes an increasingly important point of differentiation; we could also see a resurgence in teppanyaki-inspired cooking as part of this experience-led evolution,” added Allegra project director Steve Gotham.