Six Canadian foodservice trends to star in 2012

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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CHICAGO – Six trends will become more important in 2012 within the Canadian foodservice industry, predicts Chicago-based Technomic.

Limited-service restaurants are experimenting with some of Canadians' favorite foods, thinking up new variations of classic quick fare such as burgers and pizzas. With "better burger" chains leading the way, more restaurants will find ways to dress up classic Canadian comfort foods with artisan and premium ingredients. Expect more tricked-out poutines, pizzas with exotic and unexpected toppings, new takes on the classic donair and new concepts devoted to luxe burgers with gourmet accompaniments.

Chefs at full-service and fine-dining restaurants will be crafting dishes with fewer ingredients, simpler preparation techniques and locally-sourced products. Not only does the scale-back approach allow chefs to showcase the flavors of a small set of carefully chosen ingredients, it also emphasizes the skillful preparation required to take a few simple items and create a culinary masterpiece. Utilizing fewer ingredients will also allow chefs to showcase center-of-the-plate proteins like locally-sourced meat and seafood.

Operators will continue finding ways to revamp their kids' menus to appeal to both children and parents. Over the next year, more restaurants will update their kids' menus by adding baked or grilled dishes instead of fried items and replacing high-calorie sides with more healthful options. Chefs will also continue dropping children's fare such as chicken nuggets and hot dogs in favor of more sophisticated dishes.

An intensifying interest in food and beverage health, coupled with increasing pressure for regulation on menu labeling, means restaurants will have to start disclosing information about the calories, fat and salt that goes into their food. Restaurants will also continue highlighting their use of local, natural and wholesome ingredients to bolster health perceptions of their food and drink.

Look for restaurants to begin adopting more cutting-edge technologies – such as location-based platforms like Foursquare and near-field communication payment services – to develop even deeper connections with their guests.

Convenience is now a critical component in the overall eating-out value equation, and operators will create added convenience with new and innovative dining venues. More operators will embrace new concept models ranging from food trucks and high-tech urban prototypes to fast-casual and scaled-down offshoots of full-service eateries. These flexible venues will help operators immerse themselves in high-traffic areas and bring the concept closer to the consumer.
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