Restaurant Industry Food Trends to Watch in 2013

One of the interesting things to watch from year to year is the shift in which foods consumers can’t seem to get enough of. Some of this year’s food trends aren’t anything too novel, and others are rather surprising. Here are a few examples of what to expect.

Savory, Sour, and Asian Influence in the Restaurant

For years, dishes which are known to be tart, acidic, or bitter have been neglected by mainstream dining establishments. Not so anymore. Don’t be surprised if you see a plethora of new sour and savory menu items popping up. From fermented sausage to new spins on sauerkraut and desserts, sour is taking its day in the limelight. New methods of creating savory fruits also fall under this category and chefs around the country are dehydrating, pickling, fermenting, grilling, salting, and generally manipulating the flavor of fruits that we normally eat raw.

Asian foods taking the place of traditional American comfort food is another big trend this year. Whether it be the spicy, fresh flavors of Thailand, the tart taste of Korea, or the soothing concoctions of Vietnam, don’t be surprised to walk into an American diner this year and see delicious, Asian-inspired flavors on the menu.

Sophisticated Snacks in the Diner

Another surprising trend forecasted for 2013 is the fact that many restaurants are now offering snack options on the menu. Snacks are loosely defined as something that is not a meal, but can be purchased and consumed in three minutes. These days, people often snack their way through the day, taking food where they can grab it quickly in between their busy schedules. In fact, many people even consider a couple of snacks eaten together as a meal.

As a result, restaurants are finding that they can easily cater to this crowd simply by adding a few quick-grab items to the menu. While a snack used to mean a bag of potato chips, many restaurants are upping the ante by offering sophisticated snacks like glorified mini-burgers or shakes, upscale dips or crab cakes at a low price to consumers on the go. Popcorn, in particular, is enjoying a boost in popularity as a snack this year which given its low price, is a particularly easy item to add to your snack menu.

A One Diner Fits All Approach, Leaves No Diner Behind

Although there is still plenty of demand for upscale dining which provides a very specific fare, most casual dining establishments are finding that it is lucrative to cater to the needs of each individual demographic of consumer that enters the establishment. This means having something on the menu that will appeal to the vegan and vegetarian crowds, the gluten-free crowds, the weight-watching crowd, the budget crowd, etc, etc.

Being more flexible about the fare that is being offered and attending to the dietary needs of the various types of people who frequent the restaurant goes a long way toward building loyal clientele.

The forecast for the restaurant industry bodes well for this year, and we will continue to see big shifts in industry trends. You can count on health, portion sizes, and dining customization to remain at the top of the list, as well as an influx of new and exotic flavors that can’t be easily created at home.

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