5 Food and Foodservice Trends We Are Looking Forward to in 2017

We are well into the New Year and excited about what to expect in the coming months. Foodservice directors, kitchen managers, chefs, dietitians, and foodies all have their eyes on emerging food trends in commercial and retail operations. We’ve put together a list of the most popular trends to watch in the year ahead.

1. Focus on Freshness, not Appearance

For years everything from hospitals to restaurants stocked produce that met a standard requirement of beauty. Reports on the amount of food waste for the sake of appearance has shocked consumers: unsold and/or unmarketable fresh produce accounts for almost half (40%) of all food waste in the United States. The Ugly Produce movement began in 2016 and is gaining in popularity with a focus on promoting health and wellness along with a commitment to reducing waste.

2. Maximizing Flavor

The annual Menu Directions tradeshow in Charlotte, North Carolina will offer multiple culinary workshops aiming to maximize creativity and flavor in foodservice operations. The “Flavor to the Nth Degree” session will focus on the popularity of spicy foods, along with sour and bitter. The session will include a demonstration promoting improvised spice blends and encouraging creativity in the kitchen. “Sauce Hacks” looks at ways to combine ingredients reflecting the global palates of their customers. “Ethnically inspired” seasonings can turn a boring dish into something special and exotic.

3. A New Definition of “Fine Dining”

Why should meals made prepared with the best ingredients with first-class table service be limited to a restaurant? The Texas Medical Center in Houston opened a fine dining club on their campus. Visiting doctors, professionals, special guest lecturers, and researchers can enjoy an excellent meal without leaving the center. Creating inventive new ways to offer fine dining in unexpected places has also produced unforeseen advantages: the staff love it! The restaurant has become a place where team members can meet and gather on-site in a convenient and relaxed environment.

4. Nutrition Labels Get a Makeover by the FDA

In May 2016 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced they will redesign and reorganize standard food labels on all fresh and prepared food to accommodate for advancements in scientific research and a more informed consuming public. The deadline for nationwide implementation of these new labels for packaged and freshly prepared food is summer 2018, so we can expect to see the changes throughout 2017 as the process continues.

5. Breaking the Cycle of Boredom

No matter how good the food is, offering up the same choices day by day, week by week, month after month can quickly become tedious for customers and monotonous for the kitchen staff. Recent years have seen a growing popularity in concepts like “Taco Tuesday” and the weekly scheduling of food trucks on site. 2017 will add the concept of a “pop up” to break the cycle of food boredom. Foodservice pop-ups offer a special selection of dishes rotating in and out of standard menus throughout the year. Kitchen staff can make the most of fresh seasonal produce and experiment with different ingredients and combinations to avoid customer fatigue.