6 Restaurant Predictions for 2016

The 10th annual NRA 2016 Culinary Forecast is out, and it features some familiar favorites alongside up-and-coming food trends. Based on a survey of 1,600 chefs in America outlining the top food trends, here are six words predicted to shape the restaurant industry in 2016.


Diners are increasingly interested in food that was grown or raised locally. Locally-sourced meats and seafood clocked in at the top spot of the NRA’s restaurant trends survey, and locally-grown produce came in third. There are several easy ways to incorporate locally-sourced ingredients in your menu, including buying in-season produce and building relationships with suppliers.


Running a green restaurant is still a red-hot trend. Going green is about more than the environment: It’s also about cost-savings, food quality and building a better restaurant brand. Chefs reported environmental sustainability, sustainable seafood and food waste reduction/management as top trends in 2016.


Restaurants have faced a growing demand for healthy options in recent years. The healthy trend shows no signs of slowing in 2016, with natural ingredients and minimally processed food taking the No. 5 spot on the NRA’s list. And parents insist that kids’ menus offer healthy options as well – healthful kids’ meals is a top trend on the list


Where the food is grown is one thing; where it’s made is another. Once a term reserved for crafts and furniture, artisan is now a thriving trend in the restaurant industry. Chefs report diners are excited by new cuts of meat, as well as house-made or artisan ice cream, butchery, sausage and pickles.


Americans will always love classics such as fried chicken, but diners are also more open to exploring dishes from around the world than ever before. Ethnic condiments and spices are a surging food trend, with African flavors up 20 percent in popularity. Authentic ethnic cuisine is right behind, while incorporating ancient grains (like chia, farro and spelt) and ethnic-inspired breakfast items are also top trends.


It should come as no surprise that today’s diners crave convenience. So not only do customers appreciate when food is locally-sourced, environmentally-friendly, healthy, hand-made and ethnically-inspired – it’s also important for the customer experience also needs to be convenient and easy. The success of chef-driven, fast-casual concepts like Shake Shack and Fuku is ushering in a new wave of similar, convenient restaurants. Street food and food trucks will also continue to fuel demand for the quick, delicious food diners will desire in 2016. Another way to add convenience to the customer experience is to offer delivery, which enables you to reach new customers and add new options for existing customers.

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