The National Restaurant Association (NRA), Washington, D.C., released its annual What's Hot culinary forecast, which explores the top menu trends for the coming year. The NRA surveyed nearly 1,600 professional chefs—members of the American Culinary Federation (ACF), St. Augustine, Fla.—to find which foods, beverages and culinary themes will be hot on restaurant menus in 2016.
When asked which current food trend has grown the most over that last decade, 44% of the chefs surveyed said local sourcing. Looking forward, 41% said the trend that will grow the most in the next 10 years is environmental sustainability.
Menu items that gained in trendiness since last year's survey include African flavors, authentic ethnic cuisine, ethnic condiments/spices, house-made/artisan soft drinks, Middle Eastern flavors and non-traditional liquors. Items that lost momentum include underutilized fish, kale salads, fresh beans/peas, gluten-free cuisine, quinoa and flower essence in cocktails.
Top 20 food trends for 2016are as follows:
1. Locally sourced meats and seafood
2. Chef-driven, fast-casual concepts
3. Locally grown produce
4. Hyper-local sourcing
5. Natural ingredients/minimally processed food
6. Environmental sustainability
7. Healthful kids' meals
8. New cuts of meat
9. Sustainable seafood
10. House-made/artisan ice cream
11. Ethnic condiments/spices
12. Authentic ethnic cuisine
13. Farm/estate-branded items
14. Artisan butchery
15. Ancient grains
16. Ethnic-inspired breakfast items
17. Fresh/house-made sausage
18. House-made/artisan pickles
19. Food waste reduction/management
20. Street food/food trucks
"True trends evolve over time, especially when it comes to lifestyle-based choices that extend into other areas of our everyday life," says Hudson Riehle, senior vice president, research and knowledge group at NRA. "Chefs and restaurateurs are in tune with over-arching consumer trends when it comes to menu planning, but add their own twist of culinary creativity to drive those trends in new directions. No one has a better view into the window of the future of food trends than the culinary professionals who lead our industry."
"We are excited to see how foodservice establishments will incorporate these culinary trends for 2016,” adds Thomas Macrina, national president, ACF. "Chefs enjoy being creative, and many of these trends give them the ability to do what they love—make fresh, delicious food for people to enjoy."
For complete survey results, go to http://www.restaurant.org/foodtrends.