CHICAGO – Following a 1.2% decline in 2009, estimates indicate Canadian foodservice has achieved a higher growth rate in 2010 than its US counterpart, and that growth is expected to continue into 2011. The debut of new restaurants and increased competition in all segments will lead to product innovation like never before.

“The Canadian foodservice industry is full of opportunity right now,” said Darren Tristano, Technomic executive vice president. “US operators are certainly looking at Canada as an area for potential growth. But to be successful, they will need to do more than take a cookie-cutter approach to the Canadian marketplace. There are distinct differences in consumer attitudes and behaviors between the US and Canada, and those play out every day in the way that trends take shape and establish themselves in each country.”

Five of Technomic’s top-10 Canadian foodservice trends are:

1. Restaurants will increasingly source their ingredients from local vendors in 2011. Operators with local ingredients on their menus are able to respond to consumer demand for local items, while providing fresh, high-quality fare and supporting their local economies.

2. Canadians’ growing interest in more food options is encouraging US-based chains to expand north. The Canadian market appeals to US chains because it is not yet saturated, and close proximity makes it easy for US companies to develop and manage Canadian operations.

3. Food trucks are rolling out throughout the country. These trucks are diversifying the foodservice landscape of Canadian cities with their selections of convenient, portable foods sold at affordable prices. Look for menu trends taking shape in food trucks to appear on the menus of traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants.

4. Canadians will continue to seek out more healthful versions of their favorite comfort foods. Choosing indulgent foods with nutritious ingredients will allow consumers to feel less guilty about eating the foods they love. It is up to restaurant operators to find just the right balance between indulgence and health on their menus.

5. Expect fast-casual restaurants to proliferate in 2011, with growth coming from both Canadian and US-based chains, as cost-conscious consumers respond to the quality ingredients and upscale atmosphere of casual dining combined with the speedy service and affordability of quick service.