If you’re thinking of joining a restaurant franchisee, it’s important to consider what customers are looking for. Just like the fashion industry, the food industry goes through big trends every year. The National Restaurant Association publishes an annual report of culinary trends for the upcoming year based on a survey of over 1,300 chefs in restaurants across the country. Here are just a few of the highlights of their report for 2014:
Locally Sourced Meat and Produce
Consumers are very concerned about environmental sustainability these days. Even when dining out, many people tend to choose restaurants that get their meat and produce from local farmers rather than having it shipped from across the country. In some cases, restaurants are going hyper-local and starting gardens to grow their own vegetables. Owning a franchise restaurant doesn’t mean it’s impossible to use locally sourced materials. Chipotle recently began promoting their efforts to use organic, local, and family farmed ingredients with their Food With Integrity program.
Healthy Kids’ Meals
With childhood obesity on the rise, many parents are clamoring for healthier options on the kids menu. Parents are looking for restaurants that offer options such as fruit, yogurt, and whole grains instead of french fries and hot dogs.
Healthier Options for Adults
Eating healthy certainly isn’t just for kids. Many adults are growing tired of the oversized portions so many restaurants serve. In response, some restaurants have started offering half-sized portions for a lower price. Vegetarian dishes continue to be very popular. As of 2012, roughly half of all Americans were eating at least one meat-free meal per week, which is 40% higher than it was in 2007. Vegetarian options aren’t just healthy, it makes good business sense to include them. Many people dine out in groups and offering vegetarian options might prevent groups from choosing another restaurant over yours because there are vegetarians in their group.
The demand for gluten-free food options continues to grow. As a result, many restaurants are using grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, and amaranth as a substitute for wheat products. Even restaurants that specialize in foods like pasta and pizza are trying to offer gluten-free alternatives. In the Metro Detroit area, Renee’s Gourmet Pizza, a pizzeria with a completely gluten-free menu, has recently opened. Cottage Inn Pizza, a franchise restaurant in Michigan and Ohio, has also developed a gluten-free pizza crust and sandwich bread for those who request it.
People are starting to get bored of pizzas with the same old processed meat toppings, processed cheese, and vegetables that aren’t fresh. If you want to really impress pizza-buying customers, you’ll want to offer some different cheese options, fresh vegetables, unique toppings, and interesting concepts for pizzas. Blaze Pizza lets customers create their own pizzas (kind of like at Subway) with high quality ingredients and a variety of cheeses and sauces.