Ring in the New Year and resolve to try something different in 2013 to increase revenue and traffic at your facility.Little touches like a new item on your menu, special of the day, or a simple change to your décor can add fresh appeal and build a loyal following.

This is part 1 of a 3 part blog series on 2013 Foodservice Trends, with part 1 focusing on Food and Beverage Menu Trends.

According to the National Restaurant Association (NRA) total restaurant industry sales are expected to exceed $660 billion in 2013. This represents a 3.8 percent increase over 2012, and the fourth consecutive year of sales growth for the industry.

Many restaurant and foodservice industry publications publish their 2013 forecasts this time of year. In general, they are somewhat consistent, but each publication differs slightly. To summarize, the main four trends that were consistently mentioned by most were:

*Sourcing Local and Sustainable 
*Healthy Kids
*Gluten-Free and Healthy Eating
*The Year of the Beverage

The National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) predictions mostly focus on what operators should buy and the demographics of their customers this year. Locally sourced and sustainable meats, seafood and produce continue to be one of the hottest trends. Sustainable practices in general continue to be important. Consumer demand for composting food scraps and disposable products, as well as reduced water and energy use is growing. Bio-based products such as our Earth Wise® Tree Free® line of disposable and certified compostable take-out foodservice products ensure that you are meeting your customers’ needs as well as reducing your impact on the environment.

From a demographics standpoint, 3 out of 10 of the NRA’s predictions revolve around kids. Healthy kids’ meals, adding more whole grains to kids’ meals, and children’s nutrition as a culinary theme all point to making menu changes for this influential demographic this year! According to American Demographics Magazine, married couples with children spend about 44% more at restaurants than those without children. Happy kids mean happy parents. Provide a fun experience with our customizable Kids' Menu Placemats and crayons by Hoffmaster® to keep the kids entertained.

An increase in healthy eating goes beyond just kids though. 7 out of 10 consumers say they are trying to eat healthier at restaurants now than they did two years ago, with women leading the way at 75% vs. 66% for men. Also, 80% of women and 71% of men state that healthy menu options are an important factor in choosing a restaurant. Read more on the NRA’s 2013 predictions at http://www.restaurant.org/Forecast

The foodservice research and consulting firm, Technomic has found similar trends for healthier dining in 2013. New trends related to more healthful eating are evident in the increased offering of meatless meals, gluten-free options, vegetables like kale showing up as sides and ingredients, and the use of healthier grains such quinoa, buckwheat and bulgur (which are all gluten-free). With the increased costs of protein sources such as meats and seafood, meatless vegetable and grain based dishes are a smart menu offering. 

Restaurants aren’t the only venues to offer healthier choices. K-12 school foodservice operations are following similar practices by introducing more vegetables and better grains, partly due to new government regulations in the United States. University foodservice has followed suit on their own due to student demand for healthier options. Read more about Technomic’s 2013 predictions at http://www.technomic.com/Pressroom/Releases/dynRelease_Detail.php?rUID=191

Another commonly noted trend is unique beverages. Patrons still like to drink, even more than ever. Signature culinary cocktails, the popularity of regional craft beers, late night snacking, and small plates/tapas have emerged as related trends. Of all of the trends mentioned in the NRA’s beverage trends survey of 195 members of the United States Bartenders Guild, 67% said that adding specialty culinary cocktails to their beverage menus was the one revenue generating trend not to be missed this year.

In the January 2013 issue of Technomic’s Canadian Foodservice Digest™, the snacking and specialty beverage trends have reached our neighbors to the north as well. Specialty beverages such as ethnic teas and house-made Italian sodas are predicted to be a value-added upsell to already diverse cultural fare trends.

Successful foodservice operators are those who are responding to consumers changing demands and adapting menus and management practices.


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