Current menu trends weren’t the only takeaways attendees of FSD’s 2017 MenuDirections conference went home with. Operators also left with a view toward the future from fellow FSDs, industry watchers, social media experts and more. Here are six predictions for the future of foodservice offered at noncommercial’s marquee event.
1. 'Clean' will become commonplace
Hearing college students and millennials demand transparency about the ingredients chefs are putting into their food is expected at this point. But Executive Chef Kevin Frank of the Detroit Public Schools Community District says he’s feeling the pressure in K-12 as well. That’s because those health-aware millennials are now the parents of kids in the school system.
Frank works in the district of this year’s FSD of the Year Betti Wiggins. And even though their school qualifies for the community eligibility provision and serves 85,000 meals a day, they’re taking steps to meet that demand for quality.
Through farm-to-school initiatives, Wiggins buys 30% of the produce for her urban district from local and regional farms. And she’s converting a former high school into a 30-acre space for food production, processing and development—innovations that contributed to her winning FSD magazine’s top honor.
2. Noncommercial chefs will get globally inspired
In a presentation of 15 emerging menu trends, nine had global, regional or ethnic origins:
- Global breakfasts
- Ethnic street foods such as sopes or halal chicken
- Native American cuisine
- Sambal as an alternative sauce
- Jackfruit, the Asian produce turned pork substitute
- Tamarind, a staple in emerging Filipino cuisine
- Acai, a berry originating in Central and South America
- Dukka, a Middle Eastern multitasking spice
- Buttermilk, a key player in the resurgence of Southern American cuisine
3. Breakfast will break into sub-dayparts
During a workshop, “the breakfast queen,” Ina Pinkney spoke about dividing all-day breakfast service into three segments:
Prebreakfast: Targets those on their way to the gym or work, who may stop in for a power smoothie, yogurt parfait or oatmeal in a cup. The key is it has to be mess-free.
Delayed breakfast: Customers who have a prebreakfast may opt for a more indulgent meal midmorning—especially one that’s more adventurous, such as globally-inspired shakshuka or cilbir (Turkish poached eggs in yogurt)
Breakfast for dinner: Comforting options such as pancakes and breakfast flatbreads served at dinner or late night.
4. Ag threats will evolve
Former senior advisor for nutrition policy and White House chef Sam Kass mentioned that culinarians and customers will have to reckon with a significant loss of diversity in what's grown. “That’s quite dangerous in terms of the stability of our system,” Kass said. He went on to say that the Irish Potato Famine was so devastating because Ireland only grew one type of potato.
Kass said it might be harder for FSDs to get their hands on coffee, chocolate wine, pistachio and shellfish in the future. “It’s getting harder to grow food,” Kass said. “Changing climates are real, and they’re dealing with it.”
5. Urbanization will create more sophisticated, demanding diners
Joe Pawlak, managing principal of market research firm Technomic, said boomers are moving back to major cities, and urbanization is increasing in general. “That means consumers want and are expecting more sophisticated dining experiences and convenience.”