As you know, a successful business is always evolving to keep up with what their customers want. Whether that means changing their product or their process, it is a vital part of continued growth. And when it comes to food service trends, restaurants and suppliers find themselves adapting to new eating habits every year. Some of these are merely fads that fizzle out quickly, but some trends have a long-reaching impact on the food service industry.
What Are Today’s Top Food Service Trends?
Every year, the National Restaurant Association surveys 1,300 chefs. They pick the brains of these industry experts to get a comprehensive look at what is happening in the industry. This year, the results are not surprising—but still critical for any business in the food service industry to take into account.
Today’s restaurant patrons are in search of two things—freshness and sustainability.
2014 is all about meat and seafood that is locally sourced, produce that is locally grown, and companies that care about environmental sustainability.
The Benefits of Locally Sourced Food
According to QSR Magazine, a food item is considered local if it comes from within a 150-mile radius. Clearly, with these restrictions, it is impossible for most restaurants to locally source all ingredients for all dishes their complete menu. But both restaurants and suppliers can realize multiple benefits if even just a few types of meat and produce can be obtained from local vendors.
- Lower food costs. Transportation costs go down dramatically when food is purchased locally. And many local farmers are willing to give restaurants a deep discount in exchange for regular business.
- Better taste. It is no secret that the fresher the food is, the better it tastes. Buying both meats and produce locally mean that the time from farm to table is dramatically reduced. Your patrons will undoubtedly be able to taste the difference.
- Less damage. When food has to travel across the country (or further!) before it can be sold, it is susceptible to all kinds of damage. It can be bruised, smashed, and even absorb chemicals from the air.
- Support local economy. By keeping the money within your own community, everybody wins.
Ways to Become More Sustainable
As much as the quality and source of your food matters, your customers also want to know that you care about the environment. They want to see that you are aware of your carbon footprint and that you are doing something about it. If you can incorporate some of these practices into your company, you are well on your way to earning more loyal business.
- Reuse food waste. Food safety concerns lead many restaurants to simply throw leftover food in the trash, but is there a better option? Perhaps there is an industrial composter nearby that would be willing to pick up your scraps. Even if you throw away inedible food, there may be less perishable items you could donate to a soup kitchen or shelter at the end of the day (this could also count as a tax deduction).
- Recycle. Yes, it is one of the most basic ways to reduce your waste, but you would be surprised how few companies partake in this simple practice. From water bottles and soda cans to your cardboard food packaging, there are plenty of items that you shouldn’t be through straight into the trash. Are you recycling everything that is eligible?
- Become energy efficient. Do you use CFL light bulbs? What about Energy Star appliances? Do you have access to alternative fuel sources (wind, solar, hydro)? Every little change you make adds up.
By incorporating these everlasting food service trends into your business, you will be able to build a brand that lasts. Not only will you keep your customers happy, but you will also be doing your part to preserve the planet. It really is a win-win situation.