The restaurant industry continues to make gains and consumers are feeling more confident about spending their discretionary dollars on dining out. So, what will they be looking for this year when they sit down at their favorite eatery? Mintel has identified four trends set to impact the restaurant industry in 2013.
"Through extensive research and intelligence culled from our Menu Insights database and consumer surveys, we've narrowed down the four biggest foodservice trends that consumers and restaurant operators alike will be focusing on when it comes to nutrition, menus and new concepts," says Kathy Hayden, foodservice analyst at Mintel.
The trends are as follows:
Where's the Beef?: Most commodity prices have risen, but none more than beef, and with consumer confidence still low, now is not the time for restaurants to institute drastic price hikes. From smaller steaks to "premium" chicken positioning, operators will use clever menu tactics to defray high ingredient prices in 2013.
Liquid Assets: Beverages have always been a reliable profit center for restaurants, but relying on these add-on sales isn't as easy as pouring a big gulp any longer. Today's gourmet cocktails, craft beers and super-nutritional juices and smoothies have raised expectations for the beverage category, and keeping up with the waves of innovation will become a vital part of all segments of the foodservice industry.
Clean Food, Clean Conscience: While 2012's "pink slime" story may have simmered down, each new food safety scare leaves a residue that will continue for years to come. Growing consumer concern about food quality, processing and safety means that operators can't cut corners when it comes to ingredient sourcing. And, whether it's "cage-free eggs" or "made-on-premises," choosing the right menu language is as important as choosing the right ingredients in building customers' trust.
24/7 Hunger: From roaming food trucks to self-serve coffee kiosks and fancier vending machines, fresh, high quality food is available in more places and whenever customers want it. Such all-access eating means that traditional restaurants need to adjust their business models and find ways to stay nimble to keep up with the many new ways people can feed their cravings.