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Countertrends in Food-Away-From-Home Market

You can’t have your cake and eat it (too). Or can you? Today’s food-focused culture takes the both-and idea to the point of opposition, such as the desire for wordly, yet local cuisine.

Yellowfin-Tuna-fennel-pollen-preserved-lemon-beldi-olive-fingerlings-radicchioThose kinds of contradictions emerged repeatedly in the Culinary Visions Panel titled What’s Trending in Foodservice: Cultural Contradictions Driving the Trends. The report explored the expectations, attitudes and tendencies of more than 2,000 U.S. consumers in regards to eating out. The results present a bit of an oxymoron as to how and what consumers want when it comes to food.

Emerging trends cited in the study:

  • Food that doubles as an experience. Food festivals, food trucks and food halls all cater to food being both an attraction and a fuel source. The goal for these food-centric consumers is to eat for energy as well as entertainment as people seek food experiences worthy of sharing either via social media or in person.
  • Locally sourced, yet wordly. Consumers will pay more for locally sourced food when dining out. These food-savvy consumers also expect global flavors, such as exotic spices and unique ingredients, as they explore new cultures through food and sometimes even travel to food destinations.
  • Both healthy and indulgent dishes. Consumers expect both delicious and healthy meals when dining out. They won’t trade taste for health and diets are out; the trend line shows a preference toward limiting certain ingredients vs. eliminating them. At the same time, over-the-top menu items and indulgent foods can prove worthy of a splurge.
  • Nostalgia tossed in with sophistication. That reminder of childhood times and “just like grandma used to make” items are strong when dining out. However, consumers also say they want artistic presentations and avant-garde cooking techniques.