The National Restaurant Association (NRA) has its finger on the pulse when it comes to identifying key food trends for the upcoming year.
A main theme even throughout its top 10 list is eating locally and sustainably. “Sourcing local generally has its roots in a desire to support local businesses and family farms,” Annika Stensson, senior manager of research, NRA, told us. “From a consumer standpoint, ‘local’ is also often synonymous with ‘fresh’ which has palate appeal for many.”
Stensson also explained that as far as the trend of sustainability is concerned, it has become the central way of doing business in the restaurant industry, particularly when it comes to water and energy conservation. “It’s now gaining a firmer hold in the culinary world when it comes to ingredients and food waste reduction,” she pointed out.
Another trend showing up twice on the top 10 list is related to the gluten-free lifestyle. One main trend is gluten-free cuisine and the other is the rise of non-wheat noodles and pasta, such as quinoa, rice and buckwheat, on many restaurant menus.
The NRA attributes the rise in the gluten-free food trend to the heightened awareness of food allergies and gluten intolerance over the last several years. “Restaurants are ramping up their efforts to accommodate these diners, fueling the overall trend,” said Stensson.
The NRA surveyed nearly 1,300 professional chefs who are members of the American Culinary Federation.