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Technomic predicts Canada’s 2011 foodservice trends


December 15, 2010
By Canadian Pizza

pzpiecloseupthumbnailDecember 15, 2010, Canada – Canada’s foodservice industry is growing in terms of unit counts and menu offerings, according to new research from Technomic.

The firm reports that after a 1.2 per cent decline in 2009, the Canadian foodservice industry has achieved a higher growth rate than its U.S. counterpart in 2010. That growth is expected to continue through 2011. Technomic also predicts that the debut of new restaurants and increased competition in all segments will lead to product innovation like never before.

“The Canadian foodservice industry is full of opportunity right now,” says Technomic executive vice president Darren Tristano. “U.S. operators are certainly looking at Canada as an area for potential growth. But to be successful they will need to do more than take a cookie-cutter approach to the Canadian marketplace. There are distinct differences in consumer attitudes and behaviours between the U.S. and Canada, and those play out every day in the way that trends take shape and establish themselves in each country.”

Technomic predicts the following trends will emerge in Canadian foodservice in the coming year:

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Farm-to-table initiatives sprout up Restaurants will increasingly source their ingredients from local vendors. Operators with local ingredients on their menus are able to respond to consumer demand for local items, while providing fresh, high-quality fare and supporting their local economies.

U.S. chains eye Canadian border Canadians’ growing interest in more food options is encouraging U.S.-based chains to expand north. The Canadian market appeals to U.S. chains because it is not yet saturated, and close proximity to the U.S. makes it easy for American companies to develop and manage Canadian operations.

Food trucks roll out portable, ethnic foods
Food trucks are rolling out across the country. These trucks are diversifying the foodservice landscape of Canadian cities with their selections of convenient, portable foods sold at affordable prices. Look for menu trends taking shape in food trucks to appear on the menus of traditional bricks and mortar restaurants.

Healthier ingredients integrated into indulgent diets Canadians will continue to seek out more healthful versions of their favourite comfort foods. Choosing indulgent foods with nutritious ingredients will allow consumers to feel less guilty about eating the foods they love. It’s up to restaurant operators to find just the right balance between indulgence and health on their menus.

Fast-casual growth accelerates Expect fast-casual restaurants to proliferate in 2011, with growth coming from both Canadian and U.S.-based chains, as cost-conscious consumers respond to the quality ingredients and upscale atmosphere of casual dining combined with the speedy service and affordability of quick service.

The breakfast day part gets a wake up call
Breakfast is seeing explosive growth as quick-service and full-service operators alike revamp their morning menus to appeal to consumers with both healthy and indulgent offerings.

Lower-sodium foods take centre stage Sodium will be the new target for nutrition reformers in 2011. Responding to growing concerns about high salt levels in restaurant fare, operators will attempt to roll out reduced-sodium dishes that don’t fall short on taste.

Global diners Canadian consumers with adventurous palates are seeking new dining experiences that feature bolder flavour profiles and ethnic cuisines. Korean, Southeast Asian and Mexican cuisines will be some of the most popular sought-after ethnic fare, particularly in fast-casual restaurants.

Non-traditional, ethnic desserts hit the sweet spot
Ethnic-inspired desserts will provide new alternatives to the traditional sweets. Offerings will include popular treats from other countries, such as Mexican-style churros and French-style macarons. Meanwhile, classic desserts such as ice cream will be remade to feature ethnic flavours, from ginger to dulce de leche.

Veggie focus mirrors meat mania The success of meat-driven restaurants is spurring a counter-trend: modern vegetarian and vegan restaurants that offer a twist on traditional vegetarian and vegan food by pairing it with new, flavourful ethnic ingredients.

In predicting next year’s top trends, Technomic used data gathered by MenuMonitor Canada, its searchable online trend tracking resource, to search and analyze current menus from 300 leading Canadian restaurant operators. Technomic also drew from its Digital Resource Library Canada, which includes vital segment and industry data for top Canadian chains, key retailers, and leading multi-concept and non-commercial operators.

For more information, visit www.technomic.com.