“With restaurants where customers never interact with employees and others with pizza-making robots already emerging, the availability for technological innovations that improve overall convenience will grow into an expectation in 2017,” said Amanda Topper, associate director of foodservice research at Mintel. “In the coming year, expect restaurants to simplify their menus, choosing to focus on a repertoire of seasonal or previously discarded ingredients, while further helping to eliminate food waste. Global cuisines and flavors that are new to American palates are growing on menus as the desire for authenticity grows, while restaurants are aiming to fulfill consumer cravings for unique experiences with photo-worthy meals and venues.”
Mintel suggests innovation technology that adds convenience to and streamlines the dining experience has begun to encroach on the popularity of traditional restaurants due to the rising cost of labor. Eighty-two percent of consumers say convenience is an especially important aspect when dining out. Mintel sees this trend pushing restaurants to automate service to provide convenience and efficiency to consumers.
For the meat and poultry industry, the finding of new ways to repurpose existing foods that would previously be discarded is especially interesting. With food waste concern continually growing among consumers, many chefs have taken on the “nose-to-tail” approach with meat. In fact, nearly two in five (38 percent) consumers agree restaurants should offer more meat alternatives. In the tradition of chicken wings and bacon bits, restaurants are incorporating on-hand ingredients in new ways, including using ingredients that were previously discarded. As chefs get creative with these ingredients in 2017, consumers will become more open to trying these dishes, while operators can benefit from reduced food costs.
Food preparation has followed the trend of globally influenced flavor trends with the emergence of preparation techniques based on age-old methods. Fundamental preparations, such as fire-grilled or smoked, are growing as Americans explore the cuisines of places like the Philippines, Korea and Africa. Restaurants are beginning to use fire in the place of traditional ovens more and Mintel sees this continuing into 2017. Whatever the format, a focus on authenticity is essential in 2017, especially for younger generations who crave authentic experiences and foods.Whether as a form of entertainment or out of a “fear of missing out” American diners continue to hunt for new experiences. While restaurants are providing a unique experience through their food and beverage options, venues that typically place experience over food and drink, such as sporting events and music festivals, are upgrading their menus to complement the experience. The experiential dining trend is set to grow quickly in 2017, according to Mintel and for foodservice operators, the opportunity to stand out from the crowd is too good to pass up.