5 big restaurant trends to watch in 2016

Restaurant service

What’s the outlook for the UK foodservice industry over the next 12 months? Consulting firm Technomic picks out five key trends impacting restaurants in the coming year.

Trend 1: Fast-casual fever

The UK is due for a fast-casual revolution. The centre of industry growth in the US, the limited-service fast-casual segment attracts consumers — especially Millennials — with modern settings, higher quality and better-for-you fare while maintaining affordable cheque averages. As US fast casuals like Smashburger and Chipotle continue to migrate to the UK, expect to see more British operators launch their own fast-casual concepts — while operators in other segments stay on trend by adopting fast-casual elements, like build-your-own meals and smaller, more focused menus.

Trend 2: Global hybrids

Chefs are infusing a range of global flavours into modern cuisine to create something entirely new. Ingredients and culinary techniques sourced from the Middle East, South America and Southeast Asia will inspire hybrid dishes and fuel more menu-mashup innovation. Look for fusion preparations like tacos stuffed with Korean-inspired fillings and dumplings that pair Asian with European ingredients for an unexpected take on the familiar.

Trend 3: Move over, meat

Vegetables are claiming a starring role in the centre of the plate. Playing into the well-entrenched movement around local British foods, regionally grown vegetables are more likely than ever to be presented as the full meal. Watch for main-course salads, eclectic interpretations of superfoods like kale, and heartier veggie-centric preparations to delight guests in search of meatless mains that are healthful yet flavourful.

Trend 4: Off the clock

The old meal paradigm is shifting, as dining patterns and eating-out occasions are starting to reflect an ever-evolving consumer sensibility. Consumers aren’t sticking to strict mealtimes these days; instead, they’re increasingly gravitating toward food and service formats that can seamlessly integrate into their rapid-fire lifestyle. Expect snacks like bar bites and shareable fare to drive appeal during the hours after dinner, while grab-and-go platforms will expand across segments to make eating on the run easier any time of day.

Trend 5: Potent potables

The desire for deeper, more complex flavour profiles is driving the ongoing influx of bolder drinks. Trends point to robust-flavoured cold brews as the next big thing in coffee, while behind the bar, housemade bitters, sour IPAs and lesser-known cocktails that tout Fernet, Campari, Aperol and amaro digestifs will spur on this renaissance for flavour potency in beverages.

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