Canadian Pizza Magazine

Technomic’s take: what’s ahead in 2013?

By Technomic   


Nov. 20, 2012, Chicago – Technomic's team of consultants and editors have looked ahead
to food trends that may significantly impact the restaurant industry in

Nov. 20, 2012, Chicago – Technomic's team of consultants and editors have looked ahead
to food trends that may significantly impact the restaurant industry in

  1. Vegetables take their star turn. As more diners
    discover the joys of occasional meatless meals, the flirtation with
    vegetarian fare evolves into flexitarian fascination with actual
    vegetables. That means not only innovative salads, but also creative
    presentations of roasted or steamed veggies, even the assertive ones
    like carrots, kale or brussels sprouts. Vegetables at the center of the
    plate are welcomed by diners – who continue to seek fresh, local,
    healthful fare – as well as operators squeezed by rising costs for

  2. Great grains. Recognized as nutrition
    powerhouses – packed with protein as well as texture and full, rich
    taste – grains are also playing star roles on trendy menus. Dishes like
    polenta, couscous or bulgur are central to some of today’s hottest
    ethnic cuisines. And a number of grains – quinoa, amaranth, millet, wild
    rice, corn, oats and buckwheat do not contain gluten, so they’re being
    nudged to the fore as part of the movement to gluten-free eating.

  3. Chicken surprise. Yes, chicken is ubiquitous thanks
    to its always-reasonable price and remarkable versatility, but now it’s
    actually trendy as well. New quick-service and fast-casual
    fried-chicken concepts are popping up, offering Southern or spicy takes
    on a classic. And now that Latin-accented marinated chicken has
    established a niche, African peri-peri chicken may be next.

  4. Snacking nation. Habits of around-the-clock eating,
    the street-food/food-truck craze, consumers’ demand for flexible
    portions and prices, and operators’ need to move beyond price-cutting on
    core menu items all combine to make snack fare a key trend. Tapas,
    mezze and upscale bar bites in full-service restaurants are matched by
    flavorful novelties in limited-service restaurants, from spicy chicken
    McBites at McDonald’s and chicken littles at KFC to mini corn dogs at
    Jack in the Box and cheesecake bites at Sonic.

  5. More is more. On the other hand, there’s an
    opposite value-as-volume movement. Look for more deals like Pizza Hut’s
    Big Dinner Box (two pizzas with multiple sides) or Olive Garden’s Dinner
    Today & Dinner Tomorrow (a dine-in meal plus a to-go meal), as well
    as multi-course feasts for two, four or more – even whole-hog pig roasts.

  6. Retro rising: diner and deli fare. Concepts of many
    types are looking to the menus of traditional and contemporary diners
    and delis for inspiration. We’ll see a proliferation of premium diner-
    and deli-inspired meaty sandwiches, full-flavored soups, even
    pickles – from traditional dill cukes to pickled red onion.

  7. Noodle-shop noodles. Ramen done right is a long way
    from dorm fare; it’s nutritious, subtle, satisfying and redolent of
    exotic Far East street markets. Look for ramen, udon, soba, cellophane
    and rice noodles to show up in hearty layered bowls, fragrant soups and
    even mixed-texture salads, not only in a burgeoning number of big-city
    noodle shops but in seafood and varied-menu restaurants as well.

  8. South America – the next frontier. Just as diners who
    love Asian fare have explored beyond Chinese to develop a taste for
    Thai and Vietnamese, those who favor Mexican are now looking south—all
    the way to Brazil, Argentina and Peru. We’ll see mainstreaming of South
    American-style grilled meats, chimichurri sauce, ceviche, South
    American-Asian fusion seafood dishes and iconic drinks, from Brazil’s
    caipirinha to Peru’s pisco sour.

  9. Fast casual goes globe-trotting. Success in the
    exploding fast-casual sector is no longer limited to bakery cafés and
    Mexican concepts. Build-your-own-better-burger chains and gourmet
    brick-oven pizza restaurants have been on the rise for some time, but
    now we’re also seeing more ethnic foods and flavors – from American
    barbecue to Southeast Asian soups and sandwiches to Mediterranean and
    Middle Eastern fare.

  10. Restaurants thirsty for differentiation turn to beverages.
    Trends include fresh fruit (especially tropical fruit) beverages;
    natural energy drinks; housemade sodas; cocktails made with candy-like
    flavored vodkas; micro-distillery liquors that promote drinking locally;
    regional craft brews starring in beer-and-food pairings; and the rise of
    hard ciders.

These expert insights are based on site visits evaluating the
restaurant scene in cities across the country, as well as interviews and
surveys of operators, chefs and consumers, backed up by qualitative data
from its extensive digital resource library and quantitative data from its vast MenuMonitor
database. Some of these developments are mainstream trends among major
players, others are edgy urban movements that may or may not spread to
the wider American public, and some are in the process of evolving from
leading-edge to mainstream.

Print this page


Stories continue below