Foodservice trends continue to emerge, evolve and, in many cases, become more prevalent. This year will be no exception, and foodservice operators must keep such trends in mind to maintain or increase their share of consumers’ dining dollar. Here are five foodservice trends to watch in 2017.
- Healthy is IN. Admittedly, consumers don’t always gravitate towards the healthiest items on foodservice operators’ menus. However, healthier fare, whether vegetarian, vegan, low-fat, low-calorie, gluten-free, or simply prepared from fresh ingredients, is growing ever more popular and is expected to remain so this year. An increasing number of consumers have begun to equate “healthy” with “quality” and the quest for quality options has long ranked on the roster of foodservice trends. Additionally, more and more consumers have begun to follow special diets and want to enjoy healthy choices when dining out as well as at home.
- Purchasing goes local. Greater consumer emphasis on freshness and quality along with heightened concern about environmental responsibility and sustainability is spurring foodservice operators to purchase as many ingredients as they can from local sources. This includes not only produce, but also meat, poultry, and other products.
- Deliver or die. Delivery is not new in foodservice. However, it has come to occupy a higher than ever rank on the list of foodservice trends and restaurant operators that don’t go with the flow stand to lose a significant piece of their business, if not all of it.
Why? For one thing, just as today’s retail consumers want what they want when and how they want it, consumers demand access to restaurant fare wherever they happen to be, whether at home, at work, or someplace else other than in a restaurant seat. For another, with so many restaurants out there, maintaining customer loyalty has become increasingly difficult. Delivery is a highly effective means for foodservice operators to cultivate such loyalty.
No discussion of “delivery or die” as one of 2017’s most prevalent foodservice trends would be complete without noting that foodservice operators won’t only be pursuing the traditional way to offer delivery, such as through an in-house delivery service. Some will partner with restaurant delivery aggregators, like GrubHub and Doorstep Delivery. Others will feature delivery in a completely different fashion, establishing takeout-only outlets to complement their table service format.
- Increased attention to the customer experience. In addition to becoming more demanding when it comes to flexibility of access to foodservice operators’ fare, today’s educated consumers expect a top-notch dining experience. This is especially true at higher-end establishments. To provide the best experience possible for all patrons, restaurateurs will focus more heavily this year on maintaining the quality of their food and drink options while simultaneously increasing customer engagement through personalized incentives and training servers to make ordering suggestions based on guests’ previously expressed preferences.
- Mixing up the classics. While consumers are becoming increasingly adventurous in their dining habits, many are most frequently happy to savor a classic or traditional dish. Offering well done new takes on the classics is one effective means of keeping up with both of these foodservice trends, keeping the menu fresh and ensuring customer retention.
There you have it, five of the top foodservice trends for 2017. The more closely you adapt and alter your business to follow at least some of them, the more likely your operation will be to enjoy success in the year ahead.