Restaurant chains capitalizing on 'local' suppliers

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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CHICAGO – The “locavore” movement is still going strong today as the "local" claim on US restaurant menus has grown by 13 percent in the past year, according to Mintel Foodservice.
Mintel Menu Insights predicts a push toward indigenous ingredients.

"This extends the idea beyond geography to include other important attributes such as 'seasonal,' 'traditional,' and 'authentic,' especially as it relates to global cuisines," said Kathy Hayden, Mintel foodservice analyst. "Serving the best of the season communicates freshness and a 'get-it-now' urgency. Perhaps most importantly, indigenous ingredients help the migration away from overly processed food toward more recognizable and simpler ingredients sourced closer to home."

Many consumers have come to know the best sources for some regional dishes and ingredients, such as Maine lobster and New Orleans po'boys. And foods such as Southern-style collard greens and black-eyed peas are showing up everywhere from Brooklyn to Chicago.

This regional pride is where national chains have made the most of indigenous ingredients and local foodways, Hayden said. Burgerville, a Vancouver, Wash-based quick-service restaurant, touts serving Oregon and Washington berries, meats, cheeses and vegetables. On the other coast, the Popeye’s fried chicken chain has aligned its brand more closely to its New Orleans roots with a menu that emphasizes Louisiana spices, sweet cane tea and Cajun and Creole-inspired dishes.

Because more than half (58 percent) of restaurant patrons are interested in seeing more locally grown products on menus, Mintel predicts restaurant chains will respond with fresh, innovative offerings to meet this demand.
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