Some of these food trends might just appear on your menu boards

The foodservice industry has become a highly competitive market – triggered by a more sophisticated, more demanding customer base who’s no longer willing to settle for traditional menu offerings.

In 2012, foodservice sales totaled a whopping $517.3 billion in the United States and Canada. And that number is projected to reach $577.1 billion in 2017 – an 11.6% increase.* These totals speak volumes – supporting that foodservice chains are providing consumers what they crave most: nutritious variety at a reasonable price.

While the Top Ten foodservice chains (Subway, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Pizza Hut, Dunkin’ Donuts, Burger King, 7-Eleven, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Domino’s Pizza**) continue to maintain their dominance, they still keep a watchful eye on potential trends for the upcoming year. Oftentimes being the first to offer what’s “hot” in the market is what helps you stand out in a competitive landscape.

Consultant Andrew Freeman, chief executive of San Francisco-based Andrew Freeman & Co., has gathered together his predictions on what’s ahead in the industry with regard to food. Some of the highlights are below:

1. Chicken will no longer be the only protein on the menu – soon you might see catfish, pork belly and even goat.
2. Cobb salads will move upscale (adding avocado and even jerk chicken) replacing the traditional Caesar salad many restaurants offer.
3. Ice cream sandwiches will become the new portable dessert item of choice.
4. Tea consumption will grow in popularity – not only as a beverage, but also as an ingredient in foods and desserts.

Today’s demanding consumer wants more than the same old “hamburger and fries” of yesterday. They want the convenience of “fast food” coupled with an infusion of flavors and a variety of menu options. And while goat might seem somewhat adventurous for restaurant goers, if there’s enough demand you might just see it alongside your traditional favorites.

*Nation’s Restaurant News, November 18, 2013, “International Top 25” – Page 28
**NRN”s 2013 Top 200 Foodservice Chains
***Nation’s Restaurant News, December 2, 2013, “On the menu in 2014” – Page 26. Webinar entitled “Blurred Lines”