Consulting firm looks at 2016 trends for foodservice

WASHINGTON — Trendystia MRC (Maryland Restaurant Consulting)  is eyeing 10 top food and prep trends for the first quarter of 2016.

Each quarter, the national menu and marketing consultancy for restaurant companies, founded in the D.C. area and online at, identifies meaningful foodservice, menu and food trends selected from media and menu mentions, foodservice  and trade shows, and industry sources and research experts. Among the top food trends with immediate potential and short-term development opportunity for restaurateurs, the firm sees fermented foods, seeds, savory dairy and portable and upscale soups.

Trendystia’s views these as the 10 top trend selections: upscale soups/cold soups/broth, fermented foods, free-from labels, small plates, superfoods of the earth, artisan bread, meat premiumization, savory dairy and fire. “Seeds have a lot of promise because of their versatility and consumer’s perception that they’re healthy,” says Rick Zambrano, president of Trendystia MRC. “Because of an increasing interest in digestive health and overall well-being, fermented foods are becoming a bigger part of the American diet for many people, especially Baby Boomers.”

Kimchi, slaw, kombucha, fermented vegetables and roots, can become regular go-to food and beverages that can be made in-house, appealing to consumers increasingly appreciative of artisanal preparation. “Aside from kombucha, a fermented tea, these dishes can be easily incorporated into a small-plates program, which is another Trendystia top trend pick, “ adds Zambrano. “Restaurant companies benefit from a strategic, process-oriented approach to menu development and from trend-vetting. An over-emphasis on the trend-spotters can distract us from the core best practice: watching the consumer behaviors and trends while ensuring a dedicated menu management process is in place.”

Subject to valued-added trend-vetting programs that are company-dependent, these top trends have been identified as “most meaningful” for restaurants during Q1:

Seeds – From the popular chia seeds to the now famous pepitas (pumpkin seeds), restaurateurs and food retailers are keen on exploring formulation and preparation with seeds, supported by consumer interest in more healthful ingredients and global preparations. Chia seeds, pepitas, sunflower, quinoa (a seed, cultivated as a grain), flax seeds, hemp and nigella are just some of the seeds open to culinary and product manufacturer innovation.

Upscale soup, cold soup and broth bowls  – As consumers focus on more artisanal preparations of soup and broth, upscaled soup, cold soup and broth bowls are not just “good food,” but also great categories restaurateurs can use to build sales. As for cold soups, Industry research firms highlight the rise of on-the-go and drinkable soups like gazpacho and on-the-go plant-based soups. In terms of upscaled hot soup and broth bowls, data leads us to believe that unique and differentiated preparations create a reason for guests to visit restaurants and create memorable experiences.

Fermented foods – Digestive health and well-being drive the increasing appeal of fermented foods and beverages and their inclusion in the American diet. A growing body of scientific evidence suggests an interplay between microbiome health and overall well-being, as well as potential disease mitigation, with much more study being undertaken and funded. Getting ahead of the findings is the consumer looking for longevity and well-being, particularly Baby Boomers.

Small plates/ shareable plates – This trend seemed exhausted just a year ago, but the social aspect of food and eating inside restaurants plays well with small plates, which help boost business, especially at happy hour, at the bar, and during off-hours. The social aspect isn’t just predicated on group outings, but also the popularity of small plates with solo diners wanting to go out and enjoy meals in a vibrant restaurant scene (a trend, which in and of itself, is on the rise).

The above food trends and additional trends identified below can be viewed in their expanded form at on slideshare, and also downloaded there:

Food on fire, Superfoods of the earth, Artisan bread, Premium meat, Savory dairy, Label-free Changing demographics, global travel and consumers’ ongoing emphasis on convenience, and ever-demanding quest for foods prepared with more care and artisanal tradition are driving many top trends that can be leveraged by all segments of the restaurant industry. “Trends are quickly-evolving and no longer have linear trajectories, or even start in any particular segment or region; therefore it’s important to quickly narrow the funnel of qualitative and quantitative information restaurant companies have on menu and food trends,” notes Zambrano.

“Trendystia helps narrow that funnel, while making trend-vetting an important validating process and company filter for what we’re seeing surface from trend-watchers.” Contact Trendystia to help assess the potential of a core menu, new and LTO menu rollouts and trend-vetting process by emailing or calling 301.287.3002 x2.



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