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Mintel highlights foodservice trends for 2011


November 10, 2010
By Canadian Pizza

pzsideofpizzathumbnailNovember 10, 2010, Chicago, IL – Restaurant-goers value menu transparency, but still want the occasional indulgent dining experience, according to new research from Mintel Menu Insights.

The firm has identified five foodservice trends for 2011.

1. Healthy by association Sixty-two percent of consumers say they plan to eat healthier in the upcoming year, but many complain that healthier food doesn't taste as good without the added sugar, sodium and fat. Restaurants will address this problem by using healthier ingredients in popular dishes and positioning them as better-for-you options.

Consumers enjoy visiting restaurants that are perceived as healthy because these venues make them feel good about themselves and their meal choices. Consumers might opt to visit the “healthy” restaurant, but be wooed by the not-so-healthy limited time offers these places make available.

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2. Automated menus Convenience and technology will form the perfect union this year, as restaurant-goers will see an increase in automated menus at their favorite establishments. These electronic order-takers will provide customers with the opportunity to order food to their specifications in do-it-yourself style, reducing the restaurant's reliance on front-of-house staff and full-time employees. Automated menus, in addition to mobile applications, will allow restaurants to reach a younger, more mobile consumer.

3. Transparency
Consumers want to know what they're eating, and the recently passed American healthcare bill mandates such disclosure. Restaurants with 20 or more units are now required to list calorie counts on their menus. Consumers seem happy with the impending disclosure, with 61 per cent agreeing that restaurants should post nutritional information, like calorie counts and fat grams, on menus.

More cities will start forcing restaurants to visibly display their letter grades from local health departments, further increasing menu transparency.

4. Indigenous ingredients While the local food movement continues to grow, the push toward indigenous ingredients takes that trend a step further. In 2011, we will see restaurants incorporating more traditional or authentic ingredients to their ethnic or globally positioned entrees.

The ingredient-marketing claim “local” has grown by 15 per cent between the second quarter of 2009 and the second quarter of 2010. Mintel predicts that this figure will increase in the coming year.

5. Exemptions to the rule A vast majority of restaurants will have to disclose calorie counts on their menus, but that rule doesn't apply to limited time offers. Operators will take advantage of this loophole by offering less-than-healthy novelty or seasonal menu items, allowing customers to indulge in a guilty treat, without feeling pressured to make a healthier menu choice.

As it stands, 43 per cent of consumers say they're likely to change what they order when calorie counts are listed on the menu. Limited time offers allow consumers the occasional opportunity to indulge in a meal out.