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Locally Sourced Ingredients and Other Top Foodservice Trends for 2014

National Restaurant Association survey of professional chefs also shows pickling as the top preparation method for the coming year.

If the results from the National Restaurant Association's "What's Hot" culinary forecast of menu trends for 2014 is any indication, the concept of environmentally friendly practices continues to grow deeper roots in the foodservice industry. For example, the survey of nearly 1,300 professional chefs — members of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) — listed locally sourced meats and seafood as the top culinary trend for 2014 and environmental sustainability as the current culinary trend that will be the hottest menu trend in 10 years.

"Today's consumers are more interested than ever in what they eat and where their food comes from, and that is reflected in our menu trends research," said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the National Restaurant Association's research and knowledge group. "True trends — as opposed to temporary fads — show the evolution of the wider shifts of our modern society over time, and focus on the provenance of various food and beverage items, unique aspects of how they are prepared and presented, as well as the dietary profiles of those meals."

Here are the top 10 food trends for 2014:

  1. Locally sourced meats and seafood
  2. Locally grown produce
  3. Environmental sustainability
  4. Healthful kids' meals
  5. Gluten-free cuisine
  6. Hyper-local sourcing (e.g. restaurant gardens)
  7. Children's nutrition
  8. Non-wheat noodles/pasta (e.g. quinoa, rice, buckwheat)
  9. Sustainable seafood
  10. Farm/estate branded items

In terms of food preparation trends, the top ten trends for 2014 are:

  1. Pickling
  2. Fermenting
  3. Smoking
  4. Sous vide
  5. Liquid nitrogen chilling/freezing
  6. Oil-poaching
  7. Braising
  8. Raw
  9. Dust
  10. Grilling

The five items with the highest ranking as a waning trend in 2014 were foam/froth/air, bacon-flavored chocolate, fish offal, gazpacho, and fun-shaped children's items. The five items with the highest points as perennial trends next year were fried chicken, Italian cuisine, frying, barbeque, and Eggs Benedict.

Compared with five years ago, items that remain top 20 food trends include locally grown produce, healthful kids' meals, gluten-free cuisine, sustainable seafood, and health/nutrition. Items that have dropped substantially down the list from the top 20 food trends in 2009 include gelato, micro-greens, flatbreads, tapas/meze/dim sum and dessert flights.

When it comes to technology trends, the chefs ranked menus on tablet computers as the top trend, followed by smartphone apps for consumers (ordering, reservations, daily deals, etc.), smartphone apps for chefs (recipes, table management, POS tracking, etc.), mobile payment and social media marketing.